SXSW Online

SXSW Review: The Mysterines, Enjoyable Listens, Scrounge

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Watching SXSW Online 2021 is an interesting experience. On one hand, I was rather sad that I was unable to attend these sets live and in person in Texas, but on the other hand, I was excited to discover new music again. In a way, I felt sorry for these bands because:

a) The audience is smaller
b) They can’t feed off the energy of the crowd

However, in a way, this is also great for bands because:

a) They aren’t exhausted when performing (most bands perform up to 10 times over five days at SXSW)
b) There aren’t sound issues
c) They get to give the performance they want.

Either way, I don’t think it replicates the live experience. I watched several acts over the past few days – here’s my take on some of the acts:

The Mysterines

Even through my TV screen, I can sense the power that is Lia Metcalfe’s voice. Her voice sounds somewhere between PJ Harvey and Marina and The Diamonds, Metcalfe’s voice and vocal delivery adds a level of star power and wattage to the group. Are The Mysterines trying to bring rock back? It seems so. Despite their nods to the past, it is a refreshing sound. The Liverpool group played a solid 3 song set that has me curious for more.

Enjoyable Listens

Given the amount of IDLES-inspired acts that permeated many of the showcases, it was super refreshing to see Enjoyable Listens play their set. A one man act, Luke Duffet danced to the TV while singing some delightful 80’s ballad tunes in his baritone voice – tunes that brought a smile to my face. He sounds a bit like Morrissey to be honest, hopefully doesn’t share the same politics. Either way, Duffet seems like a riot based on the 15 minute set and I’d be excited to see how they pan out


A duo from South London, Scrounge’s pulsating riff driven rock music made me comment to my friends that “Scrounge makes me miss live music”. As I watched them, all I could think about was being once again in a dirty bar, head nodding up and down, pseudo-drunk and just feeling energized from the energy that would emanate from the band and would proliferate throughout the crowd. So in other words, Scrounge caught my attention. I want their energy. Listen to this song – feed that into my veins.

SXSW Review: Altin Gun, Enola Gay, HAEPAARY, Hook, The Lazy Eyes, Hachiku, Alexander Biggs

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

With the first day of SXSW Online under my belt, it really didn’t take too long for me to fully embrace the couch potato aspect of this year’s festival and lean hard into the channel surfing element of it all, taking in a little bit of everything on the second day of programming. So in the spirit of me flipping from channel to channel, here’s a quick rundown of the acts that made the biggest impressions (both good and bad) for Day Two:

Altin Gün
With a compelling blend of Turkish folk sounds and funky psychedelia, the Amsterdam-based Altin Gün made a strong impression as part of the New Dutch Wave showcase.

Enola Gay

Like a lot of people, I was quite taken with the aggressive, abrasive and confrontational sound of Bristol’s Idles when they first made the scene a few years ago (I still look back fondly on my introduction to the band when they played the tiny stage at BD Riley’s as part of their first jaunt to SXSW) and, like many, I was also quite taken with the small ecosystem of Idles-esque bands that have risen to the forefront in the ensuing years. There’s something about the immediacy of that sound that hits just right. But I am sad to say that while they seem to fit the bill, Belfast’s Enola Gay might be the tipping point for me in not just immediately loving bands of this ilk. While the energy and attitude was there, there was something about their performance that didn’t quite click for me. Maybe I’ll give them another chance though and revisit their stuff a little later on down the line.

On the other hand, I was immediately drawn to Korean duo HAEPAARY right off the bat with their cool electronic sounds. Standout track: The excellently titled “A Shining Warrior – A Heartfelt Joy”

Playing as part of the Move Forward Music showcase, Riverside, CA-based rapper Hook put on a performance that was chaotic and joyful and fun and … Damn, I wish I could have actually been watching this live and in person (and preferably at a tiki bar like the one she seemed to have recorded her SXSW set in.)

The Lazy Eyes/Hachiku/Alexander Briggs
I slowed down on the channel changing a little later on in the evening and settled on the Sounds Australia showcase wherein all of the performances were loosely organized around the theme of “Close Up” and had each performer playing in whatever their interpretation of their backyard would be. The Lazy Eyes were already on my list of bands to check out based on the strength of their single “Where’s My Brain”, which they played during their two song set and which did not disappoint. In his preview of the band leading up to SXSW, Ricky described the song as “… an adventure, moving in and out of whatever wave you are on, and just when you think it’s over, it comes rip roaring back again.” Accurate.

Up next was Hachiku, who definitely put on the backyard-iest of the backyards sets, with the band set up on the porch of a suburban Australian home, except the guitarist, who was stuck inside and playing by the window because it was raining a bit while they played an there was only so much space. The band, led by Anika Ostendorf, impressed with a set of catchy dream pop-inspired sounds. Stand out track: “I’ll Probably Be Asleep.”

The final act of the night (for me at least – Sorry, Sycco and Shannen James, I’ll catch you next time) was singer-songwriter Alexander Briggs whose sound brought to mind Conor Oberst mixed in with a little Ben Lee and made for a pleasant way to end off my evening. And now, on to Day 3!

SXSW Film Review: Joe Buffalo (2021, Amar Chebib)

Posted on by Paul in Movies, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Credit: Liam Mitchell

“To me, skateboarding was definitely like a saviour,” says Joe Buffalo at the beginning of this film, and after seeing his story unfold over the course of Amar Chebib’s short documentary, it’s hard to disagree with that statement.

Joe Buffalo tells the story of its protagonist’s life, from his experiences in the residential school system to his run ins with the law (“Jail damaged my spirit”) to his struggles with addiction. But while his story is certainly tragic, the film doesn’t dwell too much on that, choosing rather to focus on the importance of Buffalo’s “saviour” and how pivotal skateboarding has been for him. In fact, some of the most impressive and memorable moments in the film are the shots of Joe Buffalo in action on his board.

With Joe Buffalo’s career on the rise and him turning pro after skating for 35 years, the film ultimately ends off on a positive note, looking hopefully towards the future.

SXSW Review: Jambinai, Dasom Baek

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest | Leave a comment


SXSW Online 2021 is unlike any edition of the festival that has ever gone before and fittingly, my start to SXSW Online was also a little out of the ordinary.

While I’d normally start off the festival by arriving in Austin, getting the lay of the land, maybe grabbing a Shiner Bock or a Lone Star and then heading off to the nearest venue, this year all I needed was just the click of a mouse to start things off. And thanks to the folks at the Korean Traditional Performing Arts Foundation, I got things off to a good start with two short but sweet sets from Dasom Baek and Jambinai.

Starting the showcase off was Dasom Baek, whose unique sound brought together traditional Korean instruments, loops, and literally the sound of water in a bowl to produce something that was beautiful and at times almost hypnotic.

The shift in tone from the simple beauty of Dasom Baek’s performance to the much denser sonics of Jambinai was not an insignificant one, though their sounds were also complimentary and Jambinai’s set was just as beautiful in its own way. And also heavy. Oh so heavy. The band’s heavy post-rock sounds, inspired by traditional Korean music and played on a mix of standard rock band setup and traditional instruments were definitely a strong way to kick off the festivities for the afternoon.

As I’ve already mentioned, this year’s fully online edition of the festival is uncharted territory for SXSW and while there are benefits to this format (everything starts on time, solid sound mix, and the pro-shot videos mean every seat is the best seat in the house), one obvious drawback is the limitation of having all of the music sets condensed into a shorter time window, which leaves an act like Jambinai, prone to epic-sounding, sprawling compositions, at a little bit of a disadvantage. Whereas in normal SouthBy times, the band would be playing multiple sets a day to enthusiastic crowds, here they only had one shot that I don’t think even lasted 15 minutes. Still, they definitely made the most of the window of time they did have, putting on an absolutely stellar performance and for the uninitiated who were tuning in to this stream, there’s no doubt Jambinai surely made a few news fans out of some of them.