There was something appropriate about Edie Brickell & New Bohemians starting their South By Southwest set Wednesday night with “Tell Me” and it’s refrain about “waiting so long for this happy day.”
The 55-minute show at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary was actually the group’s first appearance at SXSW in its 35-year history – despite the fact it hails from Dallas and certainly played a circuit with other groups who were habitual performers at the festival. “It’s a funny thing,” lead guitarist Kenny Withrow told Billboard after Wednesday’s show, noting that New Bohemians were signed out of its home town to a major label record deal, producing a double-platinum debut – 1988’s Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars – and a smash hit in “What I Am.”
“When our record came out on Geffen, nobody really knew what was going to happen,” Withrow added. “We kind of went from playing clubs to being on Saturday Night Live, so there was no in-between where the unsigned band thing used to happen at South By. We were lucky; We stayed home and somebody came and signed us.”
Nobody in the band, however, even made mention of the St. David’s show’s notoriety. Instead it was a solid set of 10 tightly delivered songs, including “Superhero” and the Caribbean-flavored “Singing in the Shower” from Rocket, New Bohemians’ first new studio album in 12 years. Brickell, who played guitar on a couple of songs, smiled throughout the show, which also tapped older favorites such as “Buffalo Ghost,” “Stranger Things” and “Nothing” and finished with a muscular conjoined trio of “Spanish Style Guitar” into a slinky “What I Am” and an extended version of “What Makes You Happy,” with a couple of members breaking out horns during the funky vamp.
New Bohemians’ SXSW run continues Thursday with a Sun Radio live session and interview and wraps Saturday with another show at the Hotel San Jose. “I’m looking forward to the rest,” Withrow noted on Wednesday. I’m always looking to play more shows.”