Best of SXSW 2014: The Strypes

The Strypes rocked SXSW this year. (Credit: Pat Healy)
The Strypes rocked SXSW this year. (Credit: Pat Healy)

In the 1998 Kurt Russell flick, “Soldier,” a group of infants are selected at birth and raised as soldiers. It’s a program referred to in the movie as “Project Adam.” Methinks that is exactly what’s going on with The Strypes. But instead of using every resource to educate the children in the school of warfare, somebody drilled it into these Irish kids to play the blues. (By the way, we’re totally going to use a variation of this intro when we do an extended profile of the band. UPDATE: We did.)

Ranging in age from 16 to 18, they come onstage chomping on gum and dressed to the nines, and then they proceed to blow the minds of the audience at the 1100 Warehouse in Austin, Texas. Most of the audience members appear to be in their 50s or 60s. Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke is amongst those in attendance, rocking out in the front row to the band, wearing a big smile on his face. Could this be his “Project Adam”?

But here’s the thing, even if this is some sort of classic rock reclamation initiative, summoning some dystopian future, I approve of the results.

Guitarist Josh McClory rips with an ease and enthusiasm that warrants his cocky stage demeanor. Singer Ross Farrelly (the 16-year-old in the band) is a dead ringer for 1966 Eric Burden in looks and stage presence. And the rhythm section of bassist Pete O’ Hanlon and drummer Evan Walsh hold it all down and hit all of the unexpected stops that give the audience an opportunity to release one big “wooo-hoooo” in appreciation of how finely tuned the band’s brakes are.

The songs are simple blues rock compositions, but they provide an ideal launchpad for McClory’s solos. And the energy that they bring to their live show is contagious enough that I think it’s time David Fricke and the government go public with “Project Adam of Rock.” Let’s see where this can take us in 15 years.



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