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SXSW: the Scottish Invasion

3 16 2012

We were promised jetpacks

Nothing should come as a surprise at SXSW. On Sixth Street—the nerve center of the festival—a carnival atmosphere builds all day and then rules all night. You can find people waiting to get tattoos at noon, and then you can find a new batch waiting to get them at midnight. But it is still striking to see concertgoers in kilts—it takes determination to wear the wool in the Texas heat.

But the occasion demanded it: a showcase of Scottish music at the Easy Tiger Patio. The headliners and the main attraction, We Were Promised Jetpacks, did not disappoint the faithful, whether they were hard-smoking Glaswegians or self-styled urban cowboys from Bushwick. The band’s magnetic appeal draws from their shift between jaunty pop and hard-driving power rock. Their hooks are irresistible and then give way to dueling guitar solos that recall the swirling strength of their countrymen, Mogwai. It was a concentrated set with plenty of rewards, and the crowd was in good voice by the finale, an epic version of “It’s Thunder and it’s Lightning.”

Django Django opened with their singular brand of what might be called power-dance-rock. It’s a bit of a psychedelic twist on vintage Depeche Mode with more militant beats. That sounds serious but it was all in good fun. And the kilt-clad in the crowd had every reason to be proud.

— David Coggins

More from SXSW:

A Musical Scavenger Hunt
A Day with Daddy-O

Sharon Van Etten
Let the Games Begin

Valentino Rockstud Challenge
Packing for SXSW
Accessories Highlight

See more on The Swipe