Live Review

SXSW 2010: Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers, Kung Fu Saloon, Austin

Like something you’d find in Pink Floyd’s attic.

Shilpa Ray

’s funerary voice follows the up and down dirges of her little hand organ, rising up quickly, unexpectedly, throughout her set, to punctuate like bird song the long, laconic sound of herself and her band, The Happy Hookers.

There’s always something so nice about an unusual instrument, and the usually unusual personalities who have taught themselves to play them. I’ve never seen anything like this up close and personal. Her lap-sized squeeze box seems like something you’d find in Pink Floyd’s attic, or Alistair Crowley’s estate sale. But her lovely inversion of classic ideas, like the beautifully melancholic and twisted ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’, wrench forward the tortured reality of romance, clichéd or not, and like any infatuation, seem to encompass love and hate simultaneously.

Solid backing courtesy of the Hookers provide ample stage space for Shilpa Ray to strut her sexy voice and low down melodies across an audience who stand by, with the mute so freely given to passing funerals.

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