It was a terrible venue — just a stage set up in the middle of a restaurant — but the Last Town Chorus persevered during the band's performance Friday at South by Southwest, playing a set of ethereal, gutbucket songs that were flat-out mesmerizing.
Singer and guitarist Megan Hickey is the focal point of the band, for good reason. Her lap steel guitar moaned out low chords, and shrieked high notes when she yanked the steel bar in her left hand up the neck and raked the fingers of her right hand across the strings. Hickey mostly sang with her eyes closed, occasionally squinting at the crowd through red bangs hanging over her eyes. The solo she let loose on a dark bone-chilling cover of David Bowie's "Modern Love" all but stopped time, and it was almost a surprise when no ashy remnants of some incinerated psyche floated down from the rafters after she finished.
Still, to paraphrase one smart aleck, it was disconcerting to have your heart broken while the wait staff rushed by with heaping plates full of deep-fried mushrooms.
The Last Town Chorus — "Modern Love" mp3