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The (Abbreviated) Best Guitar Performances of SXSW 2013

The (Abbreviated) Best Guitar Performances of SXSW 2013

Bradley Fry, Pissed Jeans
A relentless juggernaut revved to full-throttle with fuzz and reckless abandon … that’s Pissed Jeans. “I’ve always been super sloppy,” Bradley Fry says of his guitar playing. “I have really small hands, so I can’t play super fast or anything like that. I figured instead of trying to play like somebody else, let me play how I play, and write songs to fit with that—embrace feedback and that sort of stuff.”

Fry sells himself short, but deliberately unkempt was certainly his method and the band’s, as they didn’t plan a setlist but charged right through. Fry had a great, sludgy tone reminiscent of Greg Ginn circa 1982, and put it to work at sharp riffs with plenty of feedback. His right hand never seemed to hit the strings the same way twice, flailing back and forth yet somehow holding down a melody.

“You want it to have some sort of spontaneity to it, versus everything being planned,” he adds. “It’s just what feels like coming out.” On the recent Pissed Jeans record, Fry did most of the solos in one take. His philosophy was: “Let’s just do it, record it, boom. ‘Was it horrible?’ ‘No?’ ‘Okay, keep it.’”

On the other hand, he’s found it hard to recreate those solos, he says, played through two favorite amps—including a Peavey Renown 400—and two cranked fuzz pedals, at shows. This was apparent in Austin, where his excellent riffs and their devil-may-care strumming, not the solos, were the highlight.

Fry generally plays Jaguars and Jazzmasters, but at Austin’s 1100 Warehouse, he played a Godcity guitar that Kurt Ballou built with three different P-90s and phase switching, allowing at least a dozen pickup combinations.

Watch Pissed Jeans at their record release party at Philadelphia's Underground Arts, February 2013:

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