The “Cadillac of girl bands,” Sis Deville took over the stage at the Saxon Pub for a rare show during the SXSW frenzy. And with Shelley King, Carolyn Wonderland, Floramay Holliday (all on guitar and vocals), Sarah Brown (bass) and Lisa Pankratz (drums), they’re not so much a girl band as a supergroup of Austin’s finest musicians.
Swapping vocal leads, trading riffs and blending styles, they have fun with the show — glamming it up with sequins, sparkles and red feather boas. There’s no time in the set list for feeling sorry for themselves with ballads of loss and heartbreak, instead they play Carolyn’s eyebrow raising “Bad Girl” and Shelley’s “Out on the Town.”
Each tune is picked in a democratic process but nothing is set in stone, changes are made with a quick glance around the stage met with nods of agreement. These gals are great pals and it shows through their ultra-tight harmonies (they’re all exquisite singers) and the way they highlight the others’ achievements: Sarah Brown for example was just inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame, and they made sure to mention it every time they got a chance.
Between the swampy blues and country twang of songs like “Brand New Day,” “If I Ever Get It Right,” and “Stormin’ in the South,” they even paid tribute to one of rock’s pioneering female performers with Stevie Nicks’ “Enchanted.”
Wrapping up the evening with “Wild Women,” and “Gold,” they squeezed in “Better Way Blues” before the lights came up turning the Sis Deville experience into a delightful memory until next time.
Photos by Nichole Wagner