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London Grammar schools Stubb’s crowd on chill with immaculate vocals

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Eric Pulsifer

Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 15, 2014

With only a couple more showcases and one day to go, London Grammar is the best-sounding band I’ve heard at SXSW so far. The British trio’s five-song set at Stubb’s tonight marked their final performance at SXSW 2014.

Live, vocalist Hannah Reid sounds impeccable. She’s a siren on the stage, and as she opened with “Hey Now,” it seemed she sang the crowd to a stunned silence. Well, not silence, but they shut up a little. (Austin continues to show that the new normal in the live music capital of the world is turning away from the stage and loudly engaging in drunken conversation during an artist’s set.)

Reid’s voice soared in the mix as she climbed to angelic heights and slid down to smokey lows atop trip-hop drum machine beats, keys and cool, clean Coldplay-like guitar arrangements. It’s chillout music to sway to and a soft, not-too distracting backdrop for the centerpiece that is that voice.

While the first four songs were pretty, set closer “Metal & Dust” is a bona-fide dark indie-pop banger. With rapid-fire punches of Portishead “Machine Gun” bass, it got the Stubb’s crowd the closest to full-blown dancing of any song so far tonight.

“It’s been the best week we’ve had as a band in terms of having fun,” Reid said. “Everyone has been so nice to us, especially the locals.” If they’re going to be rude during shows, at least Austinites are remembering their manners on the street.

Setlist

1. “Hey Now”

2. “Wasting My Young Years”

3. “Stay Away”

4. “Strong”

5. “Metal & Dust”