SXSW Review: Death By Unga Bunga, March 11, Fareground

Death by Unga Bunga
This past Monday afternoon, two of my favourite festivals in the world came together at the Meet The Nordics showcase at Fareground co-presented by Denmark’s Roskilde Festival. Yes, SXSW and Roskilde together at last – it was like a sort of peanut better cup of music fests.

To kick it all off for the evening, the organizers even brought in the Crown Princess of Denmark to give an opening remark of sorts. Of course, this being Austin during SouthBy … she was stuck in traffic. So before things officially got going, those in attendance were instead treated to some guy vamping to kill time by doing some pretty awkward crowd work while they waited for Princess Mary to arrive (“What is your name? And how old are you?”). Once she finally arrived, she addressed the crowd with a nice rundown on the state of the Nordic music scene and also managed to sneak in a nod to her Australian roots with a reference to Muriel’s Wedding after mentioning that ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus would also be appearing at SXSW this year.

Following her address, the music finally began with Denmark’s Lowly getting things off to a solid start on a bill that also featured Shitkid and non-Nordic ringers Black Midi. But the highlight of this show was easily Norway’s Death By Unga Bunga, who took to the stage with some not so humble opening remarks from singer Sebastian Ulstad Olsen (who was introduced by guitarist Stian S. Gulbrandsen as a “weird guy, weird fellow”): “Pleased to meet you guys. We’re Death By Unga Bunga. We’re the best rock and roll band in the entire world. You didn’t know?”

Olsen and his bandmates had many choice moves that made the case for this self-described “best rock and roll band in the world”, including the moment when Olsen ventured out to sing in the crowd, blocking people’s phones with his hand as they tried to take pics and the moment near the end of their set when the entire band, with guitars over their heads and behind their backs, played the riff from “The Boys Are Back In Town”. That’s some good rock and roll right there.

Best in the world? Maybe, maybe not, but Death By Unga Bunga are big, dumb, fun rock n’ roll at its best.

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest

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