Descending on Latitude 30 – the week-long Austin home of the British Music Embassy – last night, DIY teamed up with our fellow country men to bring a veritable smorgasbord of homegrown talent to SXSW.
With the festival’s music programme just beginning, and after a sun-drenched day filled with diversions that fully live up to the city’s ‘Keep Austin Weird’ mantra (ever heard of Goat Yoga? You have now…), Glasgow’s Breakfast Muff kick off the stage with an instrument-swapping set of ramshackle political punk. Hailing from the city’s thriving DIY scene, the trio – who rotate instruments throughout like a particularly impressive game of musical chairs – tout the kind of sub-three-minute, no fat bursts that mix playful, sarcastic lyrics with big, lo-fi punk riffs. Ending with ‘R U A Feminist’ from recent LP ‘Eurgh!’, their bullshit-blasting bangers are a breath of fresh air on a dusty day.
Winnipeg boy Boniface – our token Canadian on the bill – might channel an altogether shinier kind of kick (think Two Door Cinema Club with a yearning undertone), but he’s no less commanding a proposition. Still only 21 and with only two singles to his name, the singer is a relatively unknown entity. Tonight, however, he proves a far more buoyant and celebratory performer than those singles might have suggested; taking the more restrained hooks of ‘I Will Not Return As A Tourist’ and dialling them up a few notches, Boniface is clearly aiming for pop’s big leagues.
Returning to Scotland, and Catholic Action are old hands at this now. With last year’s debut LP ‘In Memory Of’ cementing them as wonderfully wonky purveyors of fizzing, playful indie high jinx, the quartet are a completely confident outfit that know and own their niche entirely. In ‘Rita Ora’ – their tongue-in-cheek paean to the pop star – they still have a track that can win over even the most critical of crowds.
With the venue packed to the doors, London-via-Sweden’s Francobollo tout the perfect combination of giddy earworm hooks and rollocking, sweaty fervour. With half of the band shirtless, they dish up high-octane hedonism that veers into experimental strange tangents while still keeping one foot on the hook-laden pop machine throughout. ‘Worried Times’ – a far more joyful highlight than its title may suggest – is an idiosyncratic delight: full of light’n’breezy whistles and big ol’ chunky riffs simultaneously, it’s typical of a band that manage to marry these dynamics with aplomb.
Fresh from DIY’s Class of 2018 tour with Pale Waves (who also show up at the venue tonight to support their buds), Our Girl are fine-tuning their powerful dynamic with every day. Masterfully veering from soft introversions to heavy chunks of noise, Soph Nathan leads the trio through a set that’s all about the control: knowing when to pull back and when to unleash for maximum impact. Early tracks ‘Sleeper’ and ‘Being Around’ still hit hard, but with a debut LP around the corner, tonight shows the band have got plenty more tricks up their sleeves.
Bringing the showcase home, Hull boys LIFE know how to leave people satisfied. Donning a pair of Hunter S Thompson-style yellow specs, singer Mez Green scales the bar with nary a thought for any poor punters trying to order a pint, parading down the length of it whilst busting the kind of angular moves that fully justify his frequent Jarvis comparisons. ‘Euromillions’ is a juddering, politically-charged snarl, while debut LP title track ‘Popular Music”s relentless surge is still their indie disco-ready highlight. It’s even Mez’s birthday tonight, as he declares himself to be 21 again. We can’t in good conscience confirm nor deny that one, but it’s another cause for celebration within an evening packed with it.
Photos: Emma Swann / DIY