Despite its unusual setup this year, South By Southwest have managed, to some degree, to replicate their exciting, collaborative environment online. Attendees were able to take in five days of music, film, workshops and comedy while networking through SXSW’s online portal. As always, the British Music Embassy highlighted the best of new British music on an international stage and Music From Ireland gave us some of the best Irish exports. Here’s a few of our highlights:
With powerful tracks like ‘Talks’ and ‘Divine Intervention’ in their armoury, PVA are a force to be reckoned with. Their performance for the British Music Embassy is visceral and engaging, drawing viewers in from the get-go. It’s the best possible start to SXSW, and it’s easy to imagine PVA being the band to see in a real, in-person, South By Southwest.
Starting with her track ‘Most Modern Painting’, Sinead O’Brien struts around the stage with well-deserved confidence. Her band provide the perfect instrumental base for Sinead’s poetic vocals which are mixed with a disorientating combination of chorus and delay, adding another dimension to the band’s otherwise sparse setup. ‘A Thing You Call Joy’ is another highlight, proving that Sinead O’Brien is at the top of her game.
Ethereal and intense, Just Mustard’s post-punk is right at home on the SXSW stage. Intricate drum lines and instrumentation that sounds more like violins than guitars help Just Mustard stand out from the crowd, while the vocal work, provided by Katie Ball, takes the lead throughout their set. Just Mustard are masters of their craft, keep an eye on them in the coming months.
Dead Pony don’t mess around. Their opener ‘Sharp Tongues’ is as furious as it is catchy. Their set is full of gigantic choruses and lyrics made for audience participation. Much the same as PVA, it’s very easy to imagine Dead Pony playing to packed rooms in Austin every night of the real festival. Older track ‘Sex Rich’ is proof that the band are experienced songwriters with an ear for a catchy hook. Their newer music is no different and fans, new and old, will be hoping for more music sooner rather than later.
Another Glaswegian offering, Walt Disco have been making a name for themselves for quite some time. With one band member playing from home, it’s a stranger setup but one that doesn’t affect the band’s energy. Their Talking Heads-esque dance routine in ‘Cut Your Hair’ still hits the spot, and their other tracks deliver the dramatic punk-based pop music we’ve come to expect from the six-piece. The band are undoubtedly a highlight of the week.
A band that we’ve already covered on Joyzine, Yard Act come charging out of the gate with ‘Fixer Upper’. While some bands don’t quite translate to the new online setup, Yard Act’s sarcastic, to-the-point delivery feels like it’s straight off the record, proven by their performance of their song ‘Dark Days’. It’s no mean feat, but the band have undoubtedly gained some new fans and pleased the old ones in the process.
With its huge choice of entertainment to choose from, a South By Southwest experience is always full of tough choices. While it might not be the same as the chaos-filled festival that usually graces the streets of Austin, SXSW’s 2021 edition was well organised and, albeit temporarily, filled the live music-shaped hole that the past year has left. Here’s hoping for the same effect in person next year.
SXSW 2022 has just been announced for 11th-20th March – get all the latest details at sxsw.com