An hour and a half drive on a foggy Austin highway didn’t seem so bad when I considered that the performers came from halfway around the globe. Sure, seeing the same artists perform twice in three days may sound a little excessive to some people. But we were eager. Excited. There’s something about Alex Cameron’s satirical sleaze pop paired with Roy Molloy’s crooning saxophone solos that make me giddy. And when you catch these two Aussie performers live, they make you feel like you’re part of the crew.
Wearing a long pink Cyndi Lauper-esque trench coat, Australian pop performer Holiday Sidewinder floated the lyrics to “Leo,” a surprisingly steamy number that wedges its way into your brain.
“What are you doing out there? Come on inside!”
A handful of baffled concertgoers stared through a garage door window into the stage at Paper Tiger. From the looks of it, they didn’t know where to land.
“We’re getting beer!” They yelled.
“I have plenty of tequila!”
Holiday Sidewinder took a big gulp from her red solo cup. “When you’re in San Antonio, you drink tequila, right?”
The spattering of listeners chuckled, mostly at her attempt to replicate a Texan accent. As the stragglers stumbled inside, she hit the ‘play’ button and continued on.
Mixing catchy ear worms and performance art, Holiday Sidewinder is unlike anything you’ve probably seen in Central Texas. The melodies bounce like a top 40 bop, but her lyrics drip with innuendo. In this small theatrical venue she was able to sink into her sound and breathe into the beats. Subtle acting choices balanced her extravagant choreography and kept the crowd rapt with attention.
Like the abrupt scratching of a record, Alex Cameron and Roy Molloy replaced the house music’s wailing steel guitars with the twisted, deeply ironic “Studmuffin96.”
Now, for those of you unfamiliar with Alex Cameron’s style, this song may seem jarring, offensive, and deeply problematic. The swirling Bruce Springsteen-inspired number tells the story of a man waiting for his under-age lover to turn 18. As Alex Cameron sang these misogynistic melodies, he danced like a delusional dude bro. Testosterone pulsed through his veins. Then, in a sultry melodic shift, Roy Molloy played a dreamy saxophone solo that soared above the track.
It was a wildly engaging mix of theater, irony, and intoxicating jams. Some may argue that, by making fun of toxic masculinity, Alex Cameron is only perpetuating it more. But there’s something oddly cathartic about finding the humor in these problematic people. They become the fool of a Shakespearian tragedy, and everyone aches for that comic relief.
The Texans in the crowd had obviously been jamming to Alex Cameron’s work since his 2013 debut album Jumping The Shark. By this point, the shock value had worn off. Instead, they focused their energy on belting the lyrics and screaming suggestions for his set list. At one point, Alex Cameron just sat back and chuckled at the mayhem.
Play True Lies!
No, play The Chihuahua!
Alex turned to Roy with a shrug as if to say, Do we even remember that one? But he was in San Antonio, the land of haciendas, so it only made sense. The percussive melody pulsed through the speakers, but Alex just laughed.
“How does this song start?”
Everyone in the crowd offered their advice. It was a dizzying cacophony of sincere suggestions and made-up words. By the end of the song, Alex just held the mic in front of a woman’s face and let her carry us out into the end.
By this point, the elusive barrier between musicians and audience had shattered. As I looked around the room, I saw dozens of super fans wearing bright orange T-shirts that said, “CAMERON, MOLLOY AND ASSOCIATES.” The duo has cultivated a wacky cult following that people are unabashedly proud of.
“I wanna join the Alcam crew!” a voice yelled to the stage.
“Well, first of all,” Alex Cameron said, “If you want to join the crew you have to respect women and pay them equally in the workplace.”
Before he even finished his sentence, the rowdy fans roared with applause. Bet you didn’t know you’d feel inspired at an Alex Cameron concert.
Photos by Mark Moore.