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Moats: From the garage to the big stage

Staff Writer
Austin 360

There’s not much info out there online about Moats from places that don’t have “tumblr” or “blogspot” in their URL, which makes sense. The British four-piece is unsigned, only has a few tracks to their name and is mostly unknown to U.S. audiences. Yet here they were in Austin, playing a big stage at a big music festival in front of a, well, the crowd was actually pretty small — four or five rows of people front and center. Still, not too shabby.

The British garage rock four-piece scored their slot on the ACL Fest roster after winning a contest hosted by British music mag NME to send an unsigned band to the fest. Fortunately, the contest was based on the strength of the music rather than luck of the draw. Though the band may lack a big label backing or PR folks to get their music mentioned by tastemakers, their Friday afternoon performance was entertaining — even if the guys would have been more at home on the bite-sized BMI Stage rather than the medium-tier RetailMeNot stage.

Their singer and guitarist shifted from scowling and screaming to crooning and oh-ing through a set of no-wave bass, fuzzy guitar and primal drumming. (Think Sonic Youth or a grungier version of the XX.) They even encouraged the crowd to mosh on one of their heavier tunes — an offer the early afternoon onlookers declined.

Moats was an ACL weekend one exclusive act. They have a new EP due in November.