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The 20 best bands I saw at SXSW 2013

The 20 best bands I saw at SXSW 2013

11. Disclosure

Photo by James Goulden.
Photo by James Goulden.

In one of the biggest venues of the week, the Hype Machine’s Hype Hotel warehouse kitted out with over a million dollars worth of lighting, Disclosure rip Austin into clubby shreds with a proper lesson to the Americans in how to make Electronic Dance Music. Their UK Garage dance music has a pop bent and travels well with the brothers showing off their skills on various instruments. No pure button pressing here. It’s 6pm in the day but the pair get a full rave in swing. A class act. When they drop their ‘White Noise’ collaboration with AlunaGeorge, it’s all hands in the air.

12. No Ceremony///

This Mancunian three-piece have traded in mystery on a series of songs released online and have yet to show their faces to the world willingly (UNTIL NOW). In Red 7, they seem very comfortable on stage for three people who value enigma. Their widescreen shoegaze electronics speak for themselves. The lead singer slung with bass has a Hope Sandoval ’90s cool to her and the set is a slow burner. There’s a sense of not quite there yet but what is there is really unique and at their best like on ‘Feelsolow’, they’re positively anthemic.

13. Hundred Waters

They were one of the best bands I saw at SXSW 2012 and my love for them hasn’t waned. If anything they’ve only got better, so much so that I went to see them twice. Their folky electronica is as beguiling, intricate and lush as anything out there. Will really be looking forward to seeing them support Alt-J in May in the Olympia. Look out for a video interview with them I did for Redbull.ie shortly.

14. Alt-J

Speaking of Alt-J, there’s a band that need no introduction to Irish audiences but having only played one small gig last year and their other Olympia Theatre show long sold out, their show in Stubb’s (the biggest drawing venue in Austin) is a great opportunity to witness the foursome play songs from their brilliant An Awesome Wave album.

The band have such a gentle touch in their playing that belies what a huge sound they make. It helps that the sound in Stubb’s is up there in terms of clarity and the band showcase their intricacies on a grand scale, whether it’s the drummer’s detailed rhythms which has no room for cymbals or the singer’s controlled yet expressive vocals. They amplify their concise arrangements with such ease that it’s more than a joy to watch, it’s a privilege.

15. Mykki Blanco

Mykki Blanco doesn’t need a hype man or woman, he plays between genders himself; he frequently dresses in drag and wears feminine clothing and wigs but his rap voice has a masculine energetic pump to it. His set at Easy Tiger is an hour late which doesn’t help the reception and numbers in the outdoor air. Despite that his set is a searing showcase of his firebrand rap. Like Zebra Katz, he hits the club with tracks like ‘Kingpinning’ and ‘Wavvy’ which both feature production from the rising American producer Brenmar. If you were expecting more theatrics then you’ll be disappointed, it’s just Blanco and his DJ, which will probably be enough at Forbidden Fruit.

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