Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SXSW 2013 - Tuesday: The 1975, Blondfire, Robert Delong

While the South By Southwest festival officially opened March 8 for Interactive and Film-goers, Tuesday night marked the start of the Music portion.

Robert Delong kicked things off at Pandora’s Discovery Den at Antone’s.  Working with a drum kit, synthisizers, and a looping machine, Delong functioned as a one-man band – creating the ‘80s-ish background music and singing over it.  It’s like he’s a mash-up DJ instantly mashing up his own music.  He brought out what looked like a Wii game controller and used it to control the backing music with whole body jolts, and mixed in a little Talking Heads sample of “Once In A Lifetime,” for good measure.  If you combined ‘80s synth with the sonic dystopia of Skrillex and added a good dose of Caribou, you might get something like Robert Delong.  And he’s a man in demand – he’s playing at least 12 times during the festival.

Things at the Belmont were running late, so before Blondfire hit the stage, Charli XCX performed.  While she’s had some success working with Icona Pop on “I Love It,” none of her songs are quite as catchy as that one – even when she’s sampling Gold Panda.

Unfortunately, because the stage at the Belmont is on a strange decline, it was fairly impossible to actually see the Los Angeles band Blondfire.  It’s possible the lead singer, Erica Driscoll looks a bit like Jennifer Morrison, but who could really tell?  They played a brand of indie pop in line with San Francisco’s Minipop, but seemed to save most of their energy for their closer, “Where The Kids Are.”

Inside the BBC 1 showcase at Latitude 30, Tall Ships was wrapping up to make way for the Manchester, UK band The 1975.  They’ve rather rightly been compared to ‘80s bands like New Order, but employ more jazzy guitars and longingly expressive looks from lead singer Matthew Healy.  Healy pithily introduced the songs, saying things like, “This is a song about sex,” and then playing the song “Sex.”  Gotta keep it simple.

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