SXSW 2013: Bowlsey / Desi and Cody / Brave

The mellow hip-hop and chill-pop vibes of Oklahoma City’s Bowlsey set the afternoon off at a very easygoing pace. Composed of organ, acoustic guitar, synths and gentle beats, the trio’s tunes casually made their way to my ears. Its spartan musical arrangements put the focus squarely on the vocals.

Two of the three members were vocalists, as a male rapper and a female rapper/singer took turns on microphone detail. His tone was clear, strongly listenable and especially memorable. Their closer put all the pieces of the puzzle together, with her vocals complementing the rapped lyrics as a solid arrangement played beneath them.

It was a striking turn.

Desi and Cody
Photo: Stephen Carradini

Tulsa’s Desi and Cody brought a three-piece band to back themselves up, and the resulting quintet delivered the goods in its set. Even though five people were crammed onto a tiny stage, their sound never sounded cramped or rushed: the old-timey, Western swing-esque country and folk songs sauntered along at their own gentle pace, revealing melodic and compositional charms aplenty.

Desi — aka Desirae Roses — sang lead on most of the songs in the set, and her lilting, gorgeous vocals drew me in immediately. Her persistent smile made it hard not to have a smile of my own; not only were these songs precisely arranged and performed, Desi made it look easy by having a grin on her face the entire time. It’s hard to not have fun at a show like that.

Cody Clinton led the band instrumentally, playing acoustic guitar. The drums, bass and pedal steel/electric guitar swept in behind him, creating tight and well-organized tunes for both of them to sing over. In the end, the set was about the vocals, and they were excellently written and performed.

Huge thumbs-up to Desi and Cody.

Photo: Stephen Carradini

OKC’s Brave broke my chill reverie for some female-fronted pop-rock. Her first song was on the moodier, softer side of things, but she broke into tunes with crashing drums and mashing guitars before long.

Although a solo project for Sierra “Brave” Brown, her band contributed a great deal to the sound; the drummer of the quintet stood out with his strong fills and great groove, while the bassist took over some vocals during one song.

The band would be a big hit with fans of Flyleaf or Paramore, as Brown had an attitude to her voice and lyrics throughout. —Stephen Carradini

Stephen Carradini

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