24 Hours With the Stepkids at SXSW

A backstage pass to a day's worth of music and madness with one of the buzziest bands around.

March 21, 2011

Of all the acts that played last week at the indie-music smorgasbord South by Southwest, none put on shows as visually stunning as those of the up-and-coming Connecticut band the Stepkids. Dressed in white from head to toe, the three main members—guitarist Jeff Gitelman, bassist Dan Edinberg, and drummer Tim Walsh—stand on stage, awash in waves of projected, kaleidoscopic light while producing their sublime, idiosyncratic brand of psychedelic soul.

Signed last September to L.A.'s Stones Throw label (whose roster includes Madlib, James Pants, Aloe Blacc, and J Dilla), the Stepkids will be releasing their debut single, "Shadows on Behalf," in April as a limited-edition 12-inch. Their self-titled album, slated for this fall, was recorded on analog tape to achieve a sound that is equal parts early-seventies soul and futuristic funk, a style reminiscent of experimental-pop pioneers Ariel Pink.

Details sent photographer Cambria Harkey to document a day in the life of a band on the cusp of making it big. The band's manager, Anthony Patterson, gave an oral account of their journey.

"This was one of the first times the band performed an acoustic set live, unplugged. People were really pleased with it. The audience was drinking Bud Light Lime—it's like there's Fruity Pebbles in your beer, but at 12:30, you'll take any free beer you can get."

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