Live Review: Migrant Kids at Empire Control Room & Garage

Material: Their sound is difficult to categorize, but finds its niche between pop and rock,
with a unique spin. With perfectly harmonious vocals from Zakoor and Odeja, and energetic, captivating live presence, songs such as “Threads,” a synth-supported, post-rock track and the hard rock/dance blend of “Beaten” resonate with listeners.

Other tracks, such as highlight “Canvas
Of Me,” an acoustic-driven tune with subtle angst, help put the band’s sound into proper perspective. Using electronic elements and vibrant guitars, the self-described “jungle rock” causes a bright hallucination listeners won’t mind getting lost in.

Musicianship: Zakoor’s breathy, layered vocals are at the forefront, stretched to their limit during each song, but never too thin. The lead vocalist gets lost in the music, treating the audience to a smooth, controlled and slightly sultry performance. His charming delivery pairs well with Ojeda, who chimes in naturally and harmoniously.

O’Flynn’s drumming dominates and creates an alluring effect as the backing electronics excite and engage the crowd. The trio lineup is fairly new, but no one would know with their cohesiveness. The band has an effortless air—a promising quality.

Performance: The eight-song set was an experience from beginning to end. Intrigue
and mystery captivated an initially small crowd that grew to cramp the entire venue. There was passion in every word, every strum, that acted as a call for attention towards Migrant Kids’ hypnotic atmosphere. On top of original material, the band entertained the audience with an unexpected cover of The Fugees’ version of “Killing Me Softly,” a faithful rendition that showcased the vocalists’ abilities well. Another pleasant surprise occurred when two members of Austin staple band The BLSH joined in for last two tracks, “Religion” and a cover of Prince’s “I Would Die For You,” which immediately turned into a dance party.

Summary: From the abstract, David Lynch- inspired songwriting to psychedelic production, the band presented a refreshing look at genre- blurring musicianship. Though, music with diverse components and influences usually fails to find its footing, Migrant Kids’ expressive instrumentals, ambient sounds and emotive vocal delivery allow the impressive mix to create a sound that knows no boundaries, and frankly, doesn’t need them.

Players: John Zakoor, lead vocals, bass, synths; Miguel Ojeda, vocals, guitar, bass; Bryan O'Flynn, drums; special guests from The Bright Light Social Hour: Curtis Roush, Jack O’Brien

Venue: Empire Control Room & Garage
City: Austin, TX