Five of the Best Shows at SXSW
By Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt
SXSW is held in Texas’ eclectic capital, Austin, every March to bring together all mankind with the one common love – music. From the big guns flaunting their hottest talent, to the homeless who just want to party, there’s a sound for everyone. In my inaugural attendance, I believe I witnessed and felt the highest of highs and the lowest of lows; we’ve all heard about the very unfortunate, tragic hit-and-run incident. In the trauma of it all, we were once again brought together with love and support for one another. We individually and as a mass felt highs watching our favourite bands give it all on stage so close we could taste their sweat or discovered a new band to froth over for a while. Below I have compiled my top 5 from SXSW. A mix of bands I’ve loved for years who bring to my ears amazing new music and bands I hadn’t heard of who I am now very eager to share around.
Band Of Skulls
From Southampton, England, this trio of blues-rock bandits was on the top of my list to see in hope of getting another taste of their forthcoming album Himalayan, out March 31st. If their new album is anything like their previous albums, Sweet Sour and Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, then bring it on. We know them on stage for their sometimes subtle but ever so tight tempo changes, stops and finishes in every single song, their satisfying harmonies, heavenly guitar solos and heavy riffs. From what they gave us at South By, I can safely say that their new album is full of all this and more. You need Band of Skulls in your noggin.
New York duo Phantogram, have an exceptional two-month young album out, Voices. Their stage presence at South By was as energetic and bouncy as their self-described sound is to say – street beat psych pop! Anyone who has had their heart filled, broken or confused can relate to each track lyrically. Only with any track on this album you can easily imagine yourself dancing up in da club, going for a run or looking in to a flame thinking of that special someone. Also, I think I speak for everyone who saw them at South By when I say vocalist/keyboardist Barthel’s legs are respectively mesmerising.
These Swedes have had crowds jumping for years with their unique electro-pop sound combined with Yukimi Nagano’s unmistakable jazzy, hip-hop vocals, leaving us in the lurch since their last release in 2011. Luckily for all the hipsters and guest-listers who could actually get in to Fader Fort, veterans Little Dragon didn’t disappoint; dropping a mind-blowing light show and a taste of their yet to be released album. Living up to their name, history and hype, their latest single Klapp Klapp is a tantalising teaser from their forthcoming album Nabuma Rubberband.
What do you do when you make a friend in crochet class? Form a fucking Led Zeppelin-meets White Stripes rock ‘n’ roll duo of course! Lindsey (lead guitar/lead vocals) and Julie (drums/vocals) from LA nail it on your banging head! They sure as hell gave it all they’ve got on stage, throwing at us some favourites from their 2013 debut album, Sistrionix, including End Of The World, Baby I Call Hell and Gonna Make My Own Money. Completing the greatness that is Deap Vally was their killer attitude and badass style on stage, in teeny tiny hot pants and flamboyant top-garments. Can’t wait to see and hear what else these crochet queens have for us.
Composer Thomas Arsenault or MAS YSA was born in Canada, spent his younger years getting his techno-rave on in San Paolo, Brazil and now resides in Woodstock, NY after being evicted from his DIY home studio in Brooklyn. On a small stage in the Mohawk/Vans venue at SXSW, this guy wasn’t just pushing buttons hoping to get your heads-a-bobbing; you watched him feel every new layer he added in every song as if triggering a memory. His vocals held so much emotion as his bare feet shuffled from side to side, helping yours to do the same. He released his EP Worth earlier this year and it’s safe to say a full length is soon to follow via Downtown Records.