The Aussies are poised to dominate South by Southwest Music Festival this year, as evidenced by singer-songwriter Angie McMahon’s rumbling, soulful set at Patreon’s House of Creativity on Monday. The Melbourne-based musician balanced deep, melancholy vocals and fiercely confessional lyrics that called to mind Julien Baker, with melodic instrumental swells reminiscent of Baker’s sometimes bandmate Lucy Dacus. McMahon’s mesmerizing 40-minute performance left the crowd certain she was poised to become a big star.
And amid all that, McMahon succeeded in getting in some pronunciation jabs about the differences between the way Americans and Australians say words like “pasta” or even the singer’s own last name.
Angie McMahon is my new crying music, in a really good way. Gorgeous deep voice with so much emotionpic.twitter.com/JJJG0fILi8— Kayleigh Hughes (@kayleighqueue)March 12, 2019
I’ve got a suspicion that crowds at SXSW will become familiar with Aussie language quirks as the music fest carries on. The country/continent has sent a strong musical cohort to Austin this year, spanning every genre.
Late Monday at Cheer Up Charlie’s, the indie-pop quintet Quivers, from Melbourne by way of Tasmania, offered further evidence of Australia’s strength at the fest this year. A co-ed act with women locking down the rhythm section, Quivers stood out with instantly memorable choruses and a vocal sweep that sometimes included all five members singing.
Between songs, they joked about miscommunications with a local ride-hailing service driver. They probably thought he was asking about their country’s infamous Tasmanian devils when he asked how big their moles were. Or so they thought. Turns out he said malls. They reviewed the driver kindly in the app: “We gave him five stars and said, ‘Great conversation!’”
In addition to McMahon and Quivers, Australia has sent us everything from the sharp, clever punk rock of Brisbane-based five-piece WAAX to Holiday Sidewinder’s sexy candy-colored pop (with a knowing wink) to free and freaky feminist rock the Gooch Palms to quirky indie like Greenwave Beth and Denise le Menice. Melbourne has sent the melodic indie folk of Oh Pep!, while from Sydney has come warm pop vocalist Odette.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Keep your eyes peeled for sets from Body Type, Golden Vessel, I Know Leopard, Kwame, San Mei and WAFIA. Australia is really turning it out for SXSW 2019, and we recommend you start riding the Aussie wave early.
(Peter Blackstock contributed to this report.)
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