It may come to people’s surprise that Nick Cave and Karen O are just normal people off the stage. But concert-goers get so wrapped up in their show personas that the show paints a picture in their heads. The collective perception of a band creates a mythology. At DC9, a new mythology began to build around LA-based quartet Starcrawler. Singer Arrow De Wilde and guitarist Henri Cash met in high school in 2015, adding drummer Austin Smith and bassist Tim Franco soon after. Their debut single “Ants” was picked up on Elton John’s “Rocket Hour” show on Apple’s Beats 1, and they’ve made a huge splash on and off the stage since then. They've spit fake blood into the crowd. They've been kicked out of a Teen Vogue party. They’ve almost gotten into a fight with a photographer in San Francisco. And they’ve been slowly racking up appearances in publications like Vice, Vulture, and, surprisingly, Teen Vogue. There’s no doubt about it: Starcrawler is earning their place among the larger-than-life musical personas of Nick Cave and Karen O.
It’s wise to have musicians as level-headed as Smith and Franco on board with the band. The two balance out the wild antics of Cash and De Wilde. Decked out in a frilled cowboy jacket, Cash is a fireball on stage, getting into power poses and doing near-splits throughout the show. The guitar riffs in songs like “Love’s Gone Again” and “Different Angles” are infectious and reminiscent of The Stooges and The Ramones. But with De Wilde on vocals, their show becomes unforgettable. Channeling the likes of Iggy Pop, Karen O, and an escaped Arkham Asylum inmate (even looking the part, too), De Wilde’s paranoid expressions and outrageous absolutely enthralled the crowd as much as it made them uncomfortable. She touched camera lenses, smacked an iPhone out of someone’s hands, and even stuck her hand into her diamond-encrusted jock cup and immediately rubbed someone’s face with the same hand. At the end of the set, she bolted off stage towards the green room with a panicked look on her face and kissed someone in the crowd as she ran off. If there’s anybody that lets their freak flag fly high, it’s De Wilde.
The infectious music and larger-than-life personalities of Starcrawler left an indelible mark on the DC9 crowd. Though they’ve only released one album, they’ve already got the heaviness, heft, and swagger of Van Halen in spades. With their first SXSW coming up, there’s a lot of serious potential for them to become the next big thing in rock and roll music. Slowly, but surely, the mythology of Starcrawler is growing. Their self-titled debut album is out now through Rough Trade Records.
Opening for Starcrawler was Chicago’s Sundown Club, who was also making their live DC debut. Though they only have one single out, the self-released “Sweet Rose,” they played a full set that pays homage (and could probably even soundtrack) the spaghetti Western films of yore. The echoing electric guitars and galloping drums were expertly orchestrated and very reminiscent of an Ennio Morricone score. Those looking to fill in a musical niche they didn’t know they needed before should look no further.