MUSIC | Kickin it with Yaz Ali and Tomorrow We Move to Hawaii, Queen Kwong and Christeene!
Tomorrow We Move to Hawaii
On a blindingly bright day in Austin, a Norwegian duo by the unassuming name of Tomorrow We Move to Hawaii hit the Mood Media stage at Clive Bar. It was a sobering hour in the afternoon and the crowd was still in the oh-so-familiar ‘too cool for school’ stance that is often found in the DNA of the hipster-infested audience - that was, until the ribcage-moving bass was blasted onto the stereos. Layering the beefed up electro pop with tender vocals was the ever-enthusiastic, and magnetic, redheaded beauty, Marianne Stranger. Her raw punk attitude was a refreshing wake up call to the audience while Eyvind Brox’s epic synthesizers evoked a pulsating dance to their newly found fans. Stranger’s dedicated connection with the audience was just part of TWMTH’s charm. The screams, squeals, swooning and serenading coming from this elfish punk star’s raspy, yet delicate, voice was difficult to disregard. Erratically pouncing from the stage to the amplifiers gave the photographers and bystanders something to smirk about whilst silently agreeing upon how awesome this Nordic duo was. Listening to them perform ‘Feathers’, it was tough not to imagine a young Bjork backed by Crystal Castles in an underground club in Berlin. Brox’s focused energy on his distorted, dance-y beats was a nice juxtaposition to Stranger’s mesmerizing presence.
Queen Kwong is one hell of a force to be reckoned with. QK is Carre Kwong Callaway, the 20-something HAPA from Denver, Colorado who first gained recognition by opening up for Nine Inch Nails at the tender age of 17. Completely solo. Seriously. So it’s safe to say that Ms. Callaway is no joke. Carre’s music inhabits this hypnotizing duality of voracious edginess and intimate vulnerability. At first glimpse, one would not expect such heart-felt, gut-wrenching lyrics layered over such loud, distorted guitar riffs from this young, beguiling woman. But don’t let her striking feline-like exterior fool you. She will lure you in one moment with her innocuous, delicate voice and her sinewy, alluring demeanor but before you know it she unpredictably pounces on you (quite literally) from the stage and single-handedly moshes the audience with her uncontainable fury. From there, she shouts her lyrics from the pit of her stomach, stomping and thrashing her ax, creating this crop circle of awe and bewilderment from her spectators. Queen Kwong is in fact a whirlwind of beauty and brutality.
She evokes much passion onstage while she screams and moans upon her wailing guitar. It’s raw and real, never over-produced and squeaky clean. What’s so endearing is the capriciousness and sincere authenticity. She is unafraid to announce that her guitar is out of tune or to play so loudly that there is a ringing dissonance in your ear hours after you’ve left her show. That’s what makes Queen Kwong so unforgettable. You relate to her but you also want to be her. An awesome dichotomy of poetic exposure coated with a primal volatility. Simply put, she’s pretty badass. Long live the Queen.
“I just had two dicks in my mouth!” shouted a fan from the side of the stage at Cheer Up Charlie’s. This was overheard after one of Christeene’s sex slave/back up dancers grabbed an enthusiastic bystander by the hair and rubbed his genitalia on her face. Immediately following that incident, the other bearded, half naked dancer also simulated fellatio to the eager stranger. This is just a peek into the bizarre, overtly sexual extravaganza of Christeene.
At first glimpse, Christeene appears to be a filthy, Aborigine dominatrix stomping on stage whilst spewing hip-hop lyrics upon crunchy electro beats. But this self-proclaimed “drag-terrorist” cannot be described as just that. She is a provocative, profound artist that layers an array of music genres from dub step to rap and electro to R&B. Beneath her ratty, raven hair appears striking, icy eyes comparable to a Siberian Husky. She glares into the hypnotized audience and allures them into her dark, shameless world of sex and dance. There, with her subservient Backup Boyz, T-Gravel and C-Baby, they booty-pop, gyrate, slap and dance in synchrony that riles up the crowd into frenzy. It’s a sight in itself to see the audience watch the onstage shenanigans. They are fixated upon Christeene, in her ass-less loincloth and stiletto boots, as they move in a pulsating rhythm that equals the impenetrable beats blaring from the monitors. Singing, “How many people does it take to fix my dick?” while shifting the tiny piece of fabric that is concealing the subject of the song. This peep leaves the audience thinking they’ve literally seen it all at SXSW.
But don’t be under the impression that Christeene is just an erotic showcase of voyeurism and campy S&M. She leaves you craving more, not only for the palpable beats and catchy lyrics, but her genuine relationship with the audience. It’s the overall agenda of Christeene that is strangely endearing. Almost like an after school special that teaches you to be proud of your sexuality and unashamed of your ingenuity — except that the teacher is swinging a dildo in one hand and has a man on a leash in the other.
When asked about her inspiration as an overall artist, she stated through her smeared crimson lips without any hesitation, “Myself. And life.” I think we can all learn a lesson from the college of Christeene.
Words | Yasmin Ali