Canadians are sometimes stereotyped as being overly friendly, but Toronto grunge act Dilly Dally has a sound that’s anything but. The hyped four-piece with a raucous, retro Pixies/Nirvana sound was in high demand around SXSW 2016, playing at least six shows, including a stop at the popular Spotify House and one of Pitchfork’s day parties.
Their first appearance at the fest was Wednesday at Cheer Up Charlies’ outdoor stage, where frontwoman Katie Monks’ beautiful and tormented howls and growls seemed to grip the afternoon crowd and never let go. Making a crowd at SXSW shut up and watch the show is hard enough, but it’s even harder when it’s outdoors in the middle of a sunny afternoon.
The band’s live sound has an intensity that makes you grit your teeth — and then kicks them in. Monks exudes an air of ’90s "couldn’t care less" cool that extends to her vocal cords, which she seemingly trashes about for the sake of rock like Pete Townshend bashing a Rickenbacker. Her gravely voice calls to mind Courtney Love at times and Karen O at others.
While Dilly Dally looks back to grunge, L.A. alt-rockers Autolux recall My Blood Valentine and Sonic Youth with a dark-synth and drum-machine edge.
Autolux played their final set of SXSW 2016 Saturday night at The Gatsby with Bloc Party and Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires. (Side note: I’m not sure who decided putting Autolux and the Screaming Eagle of Soul Charles Bradley on the schedule back to back made sense thematically, but I love and thank them.) Autolux drew a packed crowd, and within 10 minutes before they took the stage, the venue was at capacity.
Autolux’s dreamy, dreary shoegaze moves beyond MBV worship with electronic beats breaking up those fuzzy walls of toothy guitar and distorted noise. The electronic side of Autolux really took the front seat on their new material with ’90s trip-hop beats and a slight hint of one-time tour mates Nine Inch Nails’ touch.
The band’s third LP is set to release in April, when they’re also scheduled to play at Coachella.