Part of Nov 2011 by
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The O’s in Austin This Saturday

One of my favorite discoveries of 2011 has been The O’s, and I have Tiger Darrow to thank for that. I first saw The O’s when they opened for Tiger at the Cactus Cafe in Austin a few months ago. I knew absolutely nothing about The O’s before that show, but their live set really ripped the proverbial rug out from beneath me. Always teetering on the verge of chaos, Taylor Young (vocals, guitar, bass drum, vibes) and John Pedigo (vocals, banjo, tambo, lowebro, harmonica) are constantly multi-tasking, masterfully juggling multiple instruments at once while also contributing vocals. Obviously playing just one instrument each was not fulfilling enough for them. Their constant busyness on stage adds a slapstick comedic quality to their set, an uncanny humor that is even further accentuated by their witty between song stage banter.

A lot of modern country, Americana, and folk bands are much too polished and produced for my liking, but experiencing Young and Pedigo perform onstage feels like the real deal to me. I imagine that experiencing The O’s is akin to strolling back in time to 1930s Appalachia and finding two guys playing really great music from their rickety front porch. (It is really quite difficult for me to fathom that The O’s actually hail from the sprawling metropolis of Dallas, TX.) The O’s are proof that rawness does not always equate to sloppiness. For The O’s, rawness means getting back to the basics — though the pitch-perfect vocal harmonies and lush instrumentation of their songs are far from basic.

The O’s two LPs — We Are The O’s (2009) and Between The Two (2011) — are in constant rotation on my stereo. Young and Pedigo may wear their influences on their sleeves (Everly Brothers, Elvis, Hank Williams), but their songs are never completely derivative from one source. Besides, there is always that element of chaos — which leads me to believe that these two guys also love punk and garage rock — which adds a certain je nais se quoi to their music.

If you want my advice, save your virginal experience with The O’s for their upcoming show in Austin at The Mohawk on Saturday, December 3rd. And if you do not live in Austin, the O’s keep a very busy touring schedule, so I bet they will be in your neck of the woods soon! But if you cannot hold out long enough to experience The O’s live and in the flesh, then maybe you should start with some of their music videos.

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