SXSW ’08: White Williams Not So Proud At The Peacock

Ohio-via-Brooklyn synth band White Williams played a blue room on Wednesday afternoon — an out-of-the-way space called the Peacock, east of Austin’s Sixth Street, South by Southwest’s main strip. And suffice it to say, the mid-afternoon gig left White frontman Joe Williams feeling closer to the color of the club.

He’d give it a “3 out of 10 maybe,” Joe told me after the show. But, he noted, it was only the first of a bunch of shows they are playing at the festival, and “some are better than others.”


A “3” is a bit harsh, I would say — though it may not have been their finest moment, since the Peacock is a small room with an especially small stage, rendered even more so now that White Williams are, with the addition of a drummer, now a four piece. And the vocals definitely needed to be louder. And guitarist Hayes Shanesy was under the weather — in fact, so sick with strep throat that he was in a Dallas hospital the night before.

But those factors aside, WW gave it their all for a six-song set in which the normally electro-pop-oriented outfit actually bordered on sounding like … a rock band. Adding a live drummer is something they’d wanted to do for some time and, Joe said, once they found Cale Parks, they made the change. And all of a sudden, bouncy synth tunes like “In the Club” or the single “New Violence” are, in the words of bassist Tyler Durdick, “almost Ramones-like.” Joe explained that the more muscular sound works for the “immediate future,” but that he definitely wants to keep with the Smoke album’s more synthetic sounds, moving forward. To that end, he said he has already been working on songs for a second WW album.

In a few weeks it will be White Williams’ first-ever trip to Brazil, but for now it’s five more shows in the exotic land known as South by Southwest. As Joe said upon finishing the Peacock gig, “We’re playing tonight at 1 a.m. at Antone’s, on an even smaller stage.”

He was kidding.

For more of Norris' adventures in Austin, watch some "John TV." Plus check back with the Newsroom blog throughout SXSW for more highlights, and be sure to visit our sister blog You R Here for concert reviews, photos and more.