We arrived in Austin late Wednesday afternoon for the annual madhouse that is SXSW. Last year was our first time and we couldn’t wait to come back to count brands, get given free stuff, and maybe even listen to some bands. After finding our AirBnb and getting our bearings we headed into town to meet up with some friends and see some music.
First up were Boogie and Shamir at the NPR show at Stubbs. On the way there we could see a soul-crushingly long line already building for the highly hyped Boiler Room x Ray Ban event with Kaytranda, Rae Sremmurd, BBNG and others. Prayers were offered up to the music gods that the NPR show wouldn’t be the same. Would there be a long wait at the entrance? Would we even be able to get in? All these questions should be going through your head as you make your way to any event at SXSW.
We got in to the show, no problem, and caught Boogie (killing it, and very happy to be onstage) and Shamir (amazing energy, even more amazing falsetto). Drinks were drunk, people were met, and we even found our erstwhile pigeon Jon Tanners in the crowd. Soon, it was time to eat (shout out shrimp and grits) and then to find more music.
Let’s check out so-and-so here… at capacity.
We can head over to this show… line round the block.
This lineup looks dope… VIP only right now.
We decided to walk the streets until we found a smaller show where we might see some totally new bands. We stumbled on The British Music Embassy and the line wasn’t crazy—maybe we’d catch some cool new indie bands from the UK—but as we stood outside, suddenly thick, dirty bass washed over us. This was no indie band, it was Jack Garratt.
We’ve been hooked on Garratt’s quirky electronic pop sound, all falsetto vocals and wobbly electronic production, since “I Couldn’t Want You Anyway,” and we really knew he had something special with “The Love You’re Given.” After seeing his live show, it’s clear that Garratt has all the tools to take his career to the next level.
He’s a one man band, playing keyboards and percussion while he sings, and that voice, that emotionally charged falsetto, is even better live as it is on record. Most of the time he keeps his vocals controlled and precise, but towards the end he cut loose with a primal, powerful roar—his music is undeniably straight from the heart. We were already all in on the Jack Garratt bandwagon, but when he bust out the guitar for a couple of solos… game over. In these days of hyper-produced pop music and all electronic everything, seeing someone who can really shred on the guitar is a godsend. We need more guitar solos, we need more artists like Jack Garratt.
Jack Garratt plays No Ceilings SXSW today, Friday March 20 alongside Little Simz, Charles Hamilton, Tunji Ige Boogie, Lucki Eck$, and Bobby Raps. The show goes down from 11am-6pm at Cheer up Charlies, 900 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701.