NME closed out SXSW 2017 in spectacular fashion on Saturday night with an official showcase at Barracuda. Featuring a diverse and gripping clutch of up-and-comers, the night was a fitting end for another wild week in Austin, Texas.
Au/Ra debuted late last year with the mesmerizing future-pop single ‘Concrete Jungle’, and her confident set made good on the burgeoning promise.
The Ibiza-born, Antiguan-raised artist’s set highlighted several new tracks, including ‘Junk Food’ and ‘Kicks’, that showed she still has plenty held in reserves.
Tel Aviv-based Noga Erez had a decidedly gloomier pop vision—horrorscapes constructed of spooky stirs of echoes, clanking, dilapidated beats and spliced vocals. Think Crystal Castles in a funhouse hall of mirrors.
In a live capacity, Erez mostly stayed out of her own way, letting the songs work their dark magic over the fevered crowd.
The striking, classically trained Skott, was able to land some undeniable blog-bait bangers early on in her set.
With newbie ‘Glitter and Gloss’, the Swedish musician staked her claim as one of the most intriguing new acts in Texas this week.
Having already made friends in high places thanks to a spate of recent endorsements from the likes of Alex Turner and Tame Impala’s Cam Avery, Portland, Oregon native Alexandra Savior had perhaps the most to live up to on the night.
Noir-ish torch songs like ‘Vanishing Point’ and ‘Mystery Girl’ proved that the plaudits weren’t misplaced. Consider the ante upped for upcoming debut album, ‘Belladonna of Sadness’.
Gold Connections, a.k.a. Will Marsh, is a recent Fat Possum signee who counts Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo as a personal friend. Indeed, Toledo even recorded and mixed Gold Connections’ forthcoming EP.
Appearing as a trio on the Barracuda stage, Marsh proved a clever tunesmith in his own right, deploying his sticky-sweet GBV-inspired hooks with scruffy DIY charm. He even offered up his own “country” song featuring a nifty bit of slide—“we’re in Texas after all, right?”
With a name sounding like a long-lost Jesus Lizard album title and a live show not too far removed from the legendary Chicago band, London’s Shame took their final bow at SXSW by the throat, turning the entire industry-packed venue into a massive stage for their guttural punk screed.
20-year-old lead singer Charlie Steen smashed his head against the stage monitor, showered the audience with half-empty beer cans, and at one point, attempted to mount the venue’s photo booth in the back. Worth mentioning: most of this was done while Steen was stripped down to his boxer shorts.
The rest of the band did their best to keep up with a bass-heavy attack that at times recalled Chicago’s other least forgiving punk band Shellac, but the truth is whatever they did musically hardly mattered. Steen owned the night from top to barely-covered bottom.
Seasoned SXSW’s veterans that they are, Diet Cig didn’t even bother to acknowledge the neutron bomb that had just dropped before, instead choosing to focus on exactly what they do best. The New Paltz, NY duo of Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman, who first came to prominence at last year’s conference by winning over crowds with their charmingly tongue-in-cheek indie, led the audience on a wildly infectious sing-along throughout with Luciano acting as de-facto MC.
Previewing tracks from their forthcoming Frenchkiss debut ‘Swear I’m Good This’ built nicely on tracks from their 2015 ‘Over Easy’ EP, with observations in songs like ‘Tummy Ache’ perhaps a little more direct and pointed but choruses no less winning. Hard to imagine a more fittingly celebratory finish to SXSW’s 2017 edition.