Considering SXSW’s influence within the music community, especially in indie circles, it’s no surprise that folks from across the pond clamber to be there. And no, it’s not just because of the great Tex-Mex and free beer. Honestly.
Despite the freebies, it’s a costly mission. Austin is a 15-hour journey from London, with connections, and hotels certainly aren’t cheap. Thankfully, bands can apply for funding via PRS For Music if their label is unwilling or unable to pay the bills to get them out there. As a result, there was a hearty British contingent present in Austin during the music portion of SXSW. Latitude 30 is the long-time home of he British Music Embassy and featured showcases from around the country throughout the week.
Here are my Anglo-centric highlights for you to enjoy.
Photo credit: Lauren Keogh
Buzz has been steadily building in the UK for this quartet since 2009, and they played a whole raft of shows in Austin. I was fortunate enough to catch them at Maggie Mae’s, and they definitely didn’t disappoint. There’s something extremely satisfying about their synth-addled pop songs, which translate surprisingly well to a live setting. Roaring through a short set, they blasted out recent singles including “Once and for All” and “Belongings”. Clock Opera’s (@clockopera) debut album is out later this month, and I absolutely can’t wait to hear it. Bonus: the singer has one hell of a beard.
Pounding beats, handclaps, samples and nonchalant vocals provide the backdrop to the rabble-rousing riot that is Breton (@bretonlabs). Though wearing hoodies on-stage in the baking Austin heat was a questionable move, they nonetheless put on an energetic live show at the British Music Embassy. They will always be accused of pretention due to their self-description as a multimedia arts collective, but we’ll gloss over that. They make gritty, interesting music. There’s definitely more in the tank for these kids.
On Wednesday, Django Django (@thedjangos) was one of the hottest tickets in town, which unfortunately meant that I wasn’t able to see their show (despite the fact that it was a badges only event). Finally, I was able to catch up with them at the BMA on Friday. I adore their album, but their live show was a disappointment. It had the lethargy of a band that had already played a number of shows and needed to spend a week on a beach. They looked shattered. If only I’d caught them on the first day.