Blondshell kicks off her SXSW with her runaway hit ‘Veronica Mars’, bringing a fierce sense ambition to the Radio Day Stage. “Good afternoon and morning,” says the artist (born Sabrina Teitelbaum) as she introduces herself to Austin Convention Center’s Ballroom A, which has been transformed into a venue for this year’s festival. Looking around the room, she jokes that she feels like public speaker Brené Brown, about to give a keynote speech on bravery.
Blondshell’s self-titled debut is set for release next month (April 7), and she leans into those tracks at this afternoon and bellows out her caustic, gritty lyrics. “You’ve been running around LA with trash / Sleeping in bars with a gun in your bag / Asking can I be somebody else” she howls on ‘Joiner’, peering at the audience before her with a knowing grin.
Having only started releasing music as Blondshell just last June, Teitelbaum told NME recently that sharing her intense songs with the world was no easy feat. Yet today, standing in an oversized white tee and baggy denim jeans, there’s a sense of ease beaming from the singer as she giddily dances across the stage with her hands on her hips.
“We’re gonna play a song about salad,” Teitelbaum tells the crowd with a wink. “That’s why it’s called ‘Salad'”. The joke soon begins to unfurl: she holds the mic stand tightly while she delivers a story of love, poison and devious crime. Her lightweight vocal delivery contrasts to the dark and forthright lyrics, amplified by chaotic bursts of cymbals. “We were never violent,” she sings right before a fierce guitar solo. Amusingly, at this point, Teitelbaum takes a moment to lay flat on the stage before hopping back up to finish the track.
During ‘Olympus’, Teitelbaum’s voice takes on a real, emotional grit as she sings, “I wanna save myself / You’re part of my addiction / I just keep you in the kitchen while I burn”. Sonically, the track feels like it has been ripped from the ’90s grunge handbook, and is bolstered by sharp, kinetic percussion.
Teitelbaum wraps up with a powerful rendition of the Cranberries’ ‘Disappointment’, adding her own raspy delivery to the track. For a moment, the Convention Center – which is filled with rows of black chairs – takes on the energy of a dive bar, and Teitelbaum looks right at home.