Saturday at One Eyed Jacks, the infectiously joyous Cajun-French band created a community beyond language barriers.
On Saturday night, Sweet Crude hosted a gathering of the tribe. Dressed in white-and-red ensembles, the seven-piece band stormed One Eyed Jacks with infectious, rocket-through-the-ceiling energy that could have powered a stadium.
While the group's selling point is its lyrical experimentation in both English and Cajun French, Sweet Crude's dominant sonic feature is its percussive drive. Most indie rock bands rely heavily on guitars, but Sweet Crude builds its foundation on vocals, drums, and more drums--five drum kits, to be exact. The thunderous percussion propelled each song, from the foot-stomping "One in the Hand" to the call-and-response "Super Vilaine." The high energy rhythms of these tightly crafted songs were made for hip-shaking, floor-quaking dancing.
When Sweet Crude relies too heavily on percussion, however, its songs grow tepid. The middle of its set featured a number of tunes with less ambitious fiddle or bass lines, and the lack of melodic spark created some slack. Sweet Crude nonetheless held its audience with its immutable enthusiasm and charm, eventually picking up the pace. The band finished out its encore with a fiddle-backed cover of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' song "Maps," sung with French lyrics (the kind of cover you never knew you wanted, but were glad you heard) and fan-favorite "Little Darling."
"I always wanted to play in a band with a tribal feeling," vocalist Alexis Marceaux said previously. Sweet Crude succeeds in creating that tribe mentality live, and therein lies its greatest strength.
Between its chorus of drums and collective shouting, the band seemed perfectly in step with each other while also raising its voices outwards in a call to arms. It sprang to life when audience members exuberantly found two-step dance partners in the crowd, and when David Shirley from opening act Cardinal Sons joined it onstage. Though most audience members didn't know any Cajun French, they roared along to the lyrics anyways. Fans from Lafayette to San Diego had lined up down the block to get into the show, and it seemed like a sense of almost-filial dedication had brought them--a sense that, no matter your background or language, you fit in with these crazy, beautiful kids.