Cardiknox dazzled at SXSW

Cardiknox dazzled at SXSW
March 29, 2014 BRUCE RUSSO JR


Cardiknox has been on our radar for quite some time now. They were one of our most anticipated artists to perform during last year’s CMJ.

So, it wasn’t strange when we found ourselves standing front-row at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory when they took the stage back in October. Cardiknox serenaded us with all their glossy snythiness, flooding the intimate venue with lights and infectious melodies reminiscent of 80s synth-pop that would make Cyndi Lauper jealous. The glitch-pop duo Cardiknox consists of singer Lonnie Angle and producer / synthmaster /singer Thomas Dutton who create music that would have appeared on The Goonies soundtrack. These days they call New York City home but they originally hail from Seattle. It almost seems fitting that they’re from the Pacific Northwest. Seattle has been on the forefront of popular culture this past year with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ grammy wins and the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl. Let’s not forget to mention that The Goonies was filmed in Oregon as well. Cardiknox seem to be part of a special moment in culture, where independent music can find an audience organically. Not only has PopBytes been buzzing about this band but so has Spin, Billboard and MTV.

So, what does a buzzed about band like Cardiknox do in the month of March? They pack up their synths, microphones and drum pads and head to Austin, Texas for the annual SXSW Music Festival! We caught the duo perform a headlining set at a gay bar in Austin. And this wasn’t just an ordinary gay bar, this was a gay bar called Iron Bear whose website welcomes all “bears, cubs, otters, wolfs [sic], chubs, daddys [sic] and chasers.”

Before Cardiknox took the stage I introduced myself to Lonnie and gushed about how much PopBytes adores her band. She introduced me to the other half of the band Thomas and Chris Castellino who performs with them on tour. All three of them were super awesome despite the clock inching towards 1am and they have been performing all day at different showcases all over the city. We chatted about Seattle, movie theaters in Queens and them opening up for Betty Who on her “Slow Dancing” tour.

Dressed in high-waisted animal print pants and a black tank top, Angle took complete ownership of the stage. Any fatigue the band may have had dissipated and was replaced with such high energy. She had the attention of everyone in the room. Dutton and Castellino were in complete synch while they pressed keys, hit drum pads and twisted knobs.

Dutton’s vocals are reminiscent of Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos and compliments Angle’s alto very well. After a little digging I realized Dutton fronted an emo / indie rock band called Forgive Durden (yes that’s a Fight Club reference) who was signed to the renowned emo / punk label Fueled by Ramen (who represented bands like Fall Out Boy, Jimmy Eat World and Panic! at the Disco). Forgive Durden even recorded a musical as an album called Razia’s Shadow and I’m beginning to wonder what Dutton can’t do?

In postmodern fashion, Cardiknox incorporate lyrics to Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work” into their track “Where I’m Headed” and it hits every mark when performed live. Angle and Dutton equally dole out vocal duties in the song and it sounds like a conversation between two lovers. I know you have a little life in you yet. I know you have a lot of strength left… I’m not sure there has been an interesting rock and roll romance since Rilo Kiley, or maybe even Fleetwood Mac. Perhaps Lonnie and Thomas are our new favorite indie rock couple! “Where I’m Headed” appears in an episode of MTV’s Teen Wolf which is loosely based on the cult classic 80s film starring Michael J. Fox and furthering Cardiknox’s thesis on all things 80s.

This is just the beginning of Cardiknox. They haven’t even officially released an EP yet. I could only imagine what they will come up with in the near future. If their show was any indication of what’s to come, I see a bright future for Cardiknox. Now if only John Hughes was still alive, he’d have a band that could easily soundtrack his next film.

Check out Cardiknox performing “Technicolor Dreaming” during SXSW at Iron Bear.

Catch Cardiknox on tour with Betty Who.



Bruce is an existential pop culture aficionado and writer from New York. His many vices include the constant consumption of live music, coffee and Taco Bell. If he's not tweeting about his adventures in New York City he's probably holed up in a movie theater watching movies no one has ever heard of. You can follow him on Twitter @octoberxswimmer.