THE world’s largest and most influential music industry event returns next week for six days of exciting showcases and thrilling discovery. Taking place across the 13th-19th March, the city of Austin will once again transform into a hub of new musical talent as thousands of bands and artists descend on SXSW in search of prosperity and acclaim.
Attracting over 2,000 artists at varying levels of success and from almost every conceivable genre, the festival has become synonymous with new music over the years thanks to its ability to pluck new bands from obscurity and thrust them into the spotlight of the music media. Giving hopeful bands and solo artists the opportunity to perform in front of scores of industry musos and tastemakers while reaching out to new American audiences, SXSW has become widely recognised as a vital stepping stone on the path to musical greatness.
It should come as no surprise then that there is a big appetite for Scottish talent at this year’s festival; so much so that the Mohawk Indoor will be hosting its first ever Glasgow Buckaroo Ball in a special celebration of some of Glasgow’s best up and coming bands on Friday 17th March.
Covering a range of genres from pop, electronic, punk, indie and garage rock, this year’s Scottish line-up provides a perfect snapshot of the many different types of music currently breaking through in the country’s diverse music scene. Armed with sizeable ambitions and a wealth of incredible material, all of the bands set to feature have the potential to make a significant impact at their respective showcases. Set to follow in the footsteps of successful homegrown bands like Frightened Rabbit, Fatherson, Hector Bizerk, Young Fathers and CHVRCHES, we’ve provided an in-depth rundown of Scotland’s SXSW class of 2017 as they prepare to make the all important journey across the Atlantic.
As one of the most exceptionally talented bands to emerge from Glasgow in quite some time, it seems only inevitable that Catholic Action will make an incendiary impact on their first trip across the Atlantic.
Now a regular feature on BBC Radio One thanks to incredible tracks such as ‘Rita Ora’, ‘L.U.V’ and ‘Doing Well’, their recent signing to Modernsky Records suggests that their seemingly unstoppable trajectory will continue throughout 2017. Fresh from a recently acclaimed UK tour, the four-piece have been selected to perform at the BBC Introducing showcase on Friday 17th March.
Armed with an impressive setlist full of catchy choruses, irrepressible basslines and dazzling guitar melodies, they look certain to leave a lasting impression on American audiences. Destined to transcend the Glasgow music scene once and for all, it will be a remarkable opportunity to catch the band in an intimate venue before they hit the big time.
Set times: 17th March, Mohawk Indoor, 8pm-8.40pm and Latitude 30, 12am-12.40am
Charlotte Brimner is no stranger to SXSW. However, following a fruitful 12 months, she has never looked more ready to grace the Austin stage. Leaving audiences enthralled with her stunning vocal abilities and innovative pop compositions, the singer has already left a lasting impression far and wide in recent months thanks to a spate of shows around Europe and the Far East.
Now armed with a wealth of experience, she returns to the festival as the focal point of a three-piece outfit along with an impressive live show to match. As a truly unique and refreshing representative of Scotland’s music scene, the outfit look set to spread their appeal even further.
Set time: Friday 17th March, Esther’s Follies, 10pm-10.40pm
Following a slew of self-released home recordings and an EP on Gnar Tapes/Lame-O Records, Glasgow-based group The Pooches released their self-titled debut album back in September. Celebrating the juxtaposition of bitter and sweet under a roof of immensely catchy indie-pop, the four-piece have carried on the tradition instilled by the likes of Teenage Fanclub, Belle & Sebastian and The Pastels.
As one of Glasgow’s best kept secrets, they will surely gain the recognition they deserve when they journey over to Austin, Texas.
Set time: Friday 17th March, Mohwak Indoor, 10pm-10.40pm
No stranger to the pressures of performing to American audiences, Sam Gellaitry has amassed a huge online following in recent years thanks to his hugely experimental and carefully crafted electronic arrangements. The young producer from Stirling released His EP Escapism II last year on XL Recordings, home to some of the world’s biggest artists; a clear sign of his growing reputation.
Following a number of sold out shows around Europe and the US, his star looks set to rise even further this year with a return to Coachella in April after this showcase at SXSW.
Set time: Tuesday 14th March, Latitude 30, 11pm-11.40pm – Wednesday 15th March, Scratchouse, 12.10am-1.10am – Thursday 16th March, Kingdom, 12.50am-1.30am – Friday 17th March, Mohawk Outdoor, 8pm-8.40pm
The Spook School
Edinburgh outfit The Spook School have been asked to return to SXSW this March following an impressive run of shows at last year’s festival. Looking to build on the success of 2016, the band are gearing up for the release of their third full-length album in late 2017. Known to thread an innate social awareness through their fun and infectious guitar pop, the band will no doubt charm a whole new legion of fans once again.
Friday 17th March, Sidewinder Outside, 7.45pm-8.25pm
Hailing from Edinburgh, Elle Exxe has attracted attention from all corners of the industry thanks to her striking brand of electro-pop and fearless attitude. Championed by BBC Introducing, the release of her slick debut album Love Fuelled Hate last year marked her transition from fledgling talent to major pop contender.
Now beginning to make her mark on the live circuit on both sides of the Atlantic, she will undoubtedly attract hordes of pop fans keen to see what all the fuss is about.
Set times: Thursday 16th March, Tellers, 9pm-9.40pm and Saturday 18th March, Townsend, 9pm-9.40pm.
Inhabiting a continental sound which oscillates between kraut-experiments, euphoric pop, acid house and heady electronica, Happy Meals are another exciting product of Glasgow’s thriving DIY scene. Having followed up their critically acclaimed mini-album Apero with an extended EP titled Fruit Juice, the duo have made a significant impression in their short time together; taking their infectious compositions around Europe last year.
With two new records lined up for 2017, the journey is bound to be a productive one for Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook.
Another band making their return to SXSW this year are WOMPS. In their short time together, the Glasgow-based duo have built up a strong following at home and abroad by touring large parts of the UK, Europe and the east coast of the US. After recording their critically acclaimed debut album Our Fertile Forever at Electrical Audio in Chicago with Steve Albini, they released it last June on New York-based label Displaced Records.
Boasting a stellar 90s inspired sound full of hook-heavy pop songs and garage rock sensibilities, another appearance at SXSW is sure to see their fanbase expand even further.
Set time: Friday 17th March, Mohwak Indoor, 11pm-11.40pm
Another product of Glasgow’s fiercely committed DIY scene, Spinning Coin have certainly turned a lot of heads in the short time they have been together. Signed to the revered Domino Recording Company, the four-piece deal in gloriously affecting pop melodies over a backdrop of fuzzy guitars and wonderfully off-kilter arrangements.
Fuelled by an irrepressible work-rate and DIY ethic, the band toured extensively across the UK in 2016 before recording their debut album with Edwyn Collins in the remote north of Scotland. Gearing up for its release on Domino later this year, they are certain to attract a great deal of industry musos to their showcase at SXSW.
Set times: Friday 17th March, Mohawk Indoor, 9pm-9.40pm and Saturday 18th March, International Day Stage Austin Convention Centre, 1pm-1.40pm
With three albums to their name, Paws are one of the more established Scottish bands to appear at this year’s SXSW. Enlisting the help of Blink 182 supremo Mark Hoppus as producer, the band released their most accomplished record to date in No Grace last year. Capturing the unbridled energy of their live shows, the album saw the band build on their loud and dynamic combination of emotionally charged lyrics and ramshackle punk with great strength and confidence.
Set times:Friday 17th March, Sidewinder Outside, 9.25pm-10pm and Saturday 18th March, Barracuda Backyard, 12am-12.40am.
Fuelled by an irrepressible work-rate and unbridled energy, Pinact simply haven’t stopped since the release of their debut album Stand Still And Rot back in 2015. Following an impressive debut showing last year, the Glasgow-based three-piece return to SXSW as they prepare for the launch of their second LP. With big touring plans for the year ahead, they hope to make the right connections and solidify their growing appeal in the States.
Representing Glasgow punk rock at its finest with their 90s infused blend of raucous guitar pop, they will join the likes of Catholic Action, The Pooches and WOMPS at the inagura Glasgow Buckaroo Ball showcase.
Set times: Friday 17th March, Mohawk Indoor, 12am-12.40am
Anna Meredith was toast of the tastemakers last year when she released her pioneering debut album Varmints. As a composer, producer and performer of both acoustic and electronic music, her unique and singular vision has stood her apart as a truly breath-taking talent. With the ability to flit between genres with consummate ease, her debut album straddles contemporary classical, art pop, electronica and experimental rock all at once.
Now with a dazzling CV to her name, the singer-songwriter is sure to mesmerise American audiences and industry musos alike at this year’s SXSW.
Set times: Friday 17th March, Esther’s Follies, 12am-12.40am and Saturday 18th March, Latitude 30, 8pm-8.40pm