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The 20 best bands I saw at SXSW 2013

The 20 best bands I saw at SXSW 2013


Sets I really enjoyed from bands I’ve already seen or like: Local Natives @ Mohawk, Austra @ Elysium/The Main, Lunice @ Boiler Room, Generationals @ Beauty Bar, Funeral Suits @ Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room, Squarehead @ BD Rileys.

Bands I wanted to really wanted to see but didn’t: Youth Lagoon (again), Prince (obviously) Rhye, Inc., Fear Of Men, Blue Hawaii, Poolside, Girls Names, Flume, Mount Kimbie, Eddi Front.

WTF? shows of the week:

Charlotte Church @ Vevo Control Room


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And so it was that because Angel Haze’s set-time was moved forward that a group of us went to see what Charlotte Church was all about. There she was big wig, weird dress (to match Austin’s tagline she says), two drummers and WTF factor thanks to her new chosen music genre: pop-leaning starry eyed indie music. Some of it was OK in truth. If it was anyone else you’d say it was alright: some good ideas executed in a muddled way. The identity of the music wasn’t clear. Look, like I ended up saying to her on Twitter myself after she got defensive after the show (now deleted – she asked for constructive criticism rather than cold derision which wasn’t what my first tweet below was really; it was genuinely WTF to see her with about 30 other people randomly), it wasn’t terrible, her voice was good but the whole thing was just a bit odd/incongruous but fair play and all that.

Kitty Pryde @ Hype Hotel

More an interesting thing to watch than anything else. Daytona rapper Kitty Pryde now just Kitty has surprised people by outlasting others like Kreayshawn who came up via the Tumblr/YouTube route. Watching her Hype Hotel show, it’s clear this is a generational thing and the gulf is wide. Pryde’s and her DJ who wears his hair in front of his face throughout, seems to be all about going through the motions or they are mostly just embarassed to be here, it’s hard to tell. She’s an engaging performer, somehow likeable, a bit silly and her style doesn’t vary much apart from nasal to shouting, but it’s 2013 for crying out loud, of course rap should have a disinterested looking nasal-voice bratty girl representative on the team that most people hate.

Artists which I wish I saw more of: DENA, Delorean, Nguzunguzu, Kid Karate.

Artist who was everywhere? Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

Artist with the earliest set time? Kodaline, who were also EVERYWHERE.

Bands which were worthy of more investigation or who need more time: Parquet Courts, Cajmere Cat, Mozart’s Sister, St. Lucia, Ratking.

Acts who didn’t do it for me live: Caveman, MS MR, Sinkane, BIG K.R.I.T., Toro Y Moi , Petite Noir, Wild Belle.

Worst set of SXSW 2013? The Neighbourhood @ Cedar Street Courtyard while waiting for Haim to come on. American rock yawn. AVOID.

It wouldn’t be SXSW without seeing… : Thee Oh Sees @ Beerland. A now annual experience.

All photos: James Goulden.

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