RFB at SXSW 2019: Part 1

14 Mar 2019

We're back in Texas for the annual music festival and conference. Here's our report from the first couple of days...

The first night of music offers sets from a host of the world’s most talked about new bands. Black Midi pack out Mohawk for an enthralling performance built on post-hardcore and math-rock principles with an unconventional and fresh approach, people losing themselves in the music under the 5pm sun. Fontaines DC play shortly after, their untamed, purposeful and poetic punk resonating with the US just as it does the UK - inspiring music in challenging times. Babii surprises us with an intimate set at the Indigo Hotel Bar - our last time catching them supporting our very own Crooked Colours at London’s Scala. Next up is Primo, one of Germany’s breakthrough hip hop band’s who put on a great set - even if the venue’s idea of having the Wikipedia page for the artist on a screen next to the stage is a little distracting. We head back toward Mohawk to catch New Colombian quartet Combo Chimbita and meet some of the SXSW Music crew along the way, who are impressively calm given the nature of the event, and smile as we discuss just how unique the festival is. The music team also offered us a tip of their own, recommending we catch Berlin trio Gaddafi Gals at the German Haus - and their mix of punk and hip-hop impresses, as tech and music guests find their badges swinging in time to the music. We end the night at the British Music Embassy, where Sports Team rouse the jetlagged with a mischievous and energetic set.

Tuesday evening and we’re back at legendary Austin spot Pearl Street Co-op, hosting our fourth annual House Party - with previous guests including; Hinds, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Julia Jacklin and Marika Hackman. Oxford, Mississippi’s Kate Teague starts things up with her band for a rendition of captivating and heart swelling songs that channel the likes of Alvvays’ Molly Rankin and Lana Del Rey, bringing the local Austin university students - and some familiar faces - inside from the pool. With the parties blue cups - they were out of red, honest - refilled from the keg, Squid start the mosh pit with their refreshing, forward thinking take on post punk, as melodic as it is eccentric - it’s a performance that will be remembered. Londoner’s Puma Blue turn the space into a more intimate affair, the crowd surrounding the stage, charmed by Jacob Allen’s romantic ode’s and a voice the captivates - the band as tight as they are risk taking, transforming his late night tales into something you can really move to. Body Type transcend the hype into something naturally far more meaningful, exceptionally written songs performed with an energy and ambition that reminds all of SX’s truest quality - a place to discover the best new music, just minutes before the rest of the world catches up. As people drip from the clothes they arrived in after some carefully considered jumps into Pearl Street’s famous - infamous? - swimming pool, Kinshasa’s KOKOKO! warm up to a full room, and begin in earnest to an audience in true anticipation following the whispers they’ve heard regarding a band from the Congo playing at a student house in Austin. The call and response nature of the music is agreed upon immediately - as people sing, dance - and Facetime - throughout the band’s energetic and entirely unique 45 minutes. It may well be the most electrifying set we’ve had the pleasure of hosting at the house and over ‘one last drink’ outside feels like the first of the select SX moments that will take place over the rest of the week. Photo: Sam Huddleston

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