SXSW Review: Cairn String Quartet, March 14, The Hideout

Increasingly¬†over the last few years, the question arises of how likely it is for a band to break out big at SXSW. With more and more acts crowding the landscape at the festival, one wonders how viable it is to make the trek to Austin. If you’re not already a heavily buzzed indie act, mega-popstar, or gimmicky joke band featuring a former child star, the chances of being noticed above all the other noise are iffy. That said, if you’ve got something special going for you and a bit of luck, there’s still a chance you’ll stand out and just may fare better than that guy who’s handing out CDs and flyers to promote his showcase slot at 11 am in the backyard of a chiropodist’s office. It’s quite possible that Scotland’s Cairn String Quartet might have that something special to help them stand out.

A quartet known for playing arrangements of songs by popular acts such as Daft Punk, CHVRCHES, and Franz Ferdinand, these four ladies from Glasgow appeared onstage wearing matching t-shirts emblazoned with the time and date of their showcase (a cute bit of self-promotion) and proceeded to wow the crowd with their setlist, which included a medley of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Pharrell’s “Happy” as well as a song from some film they had seen on the plane ride over to Austin. They were not only very talented players, but kind of charming onstage. Sure, string quartets have been known to cover pop tunes before, but to see it performed live by skilled players is something else and besides, they’re definitely a sight better than some schmaltzy string quartet tribute to James Blunt or some horribleness. Definitely something a bit different and a nice respite from the craziness that is SXSW on a Friday.

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest