The internet is a weird place. I was a little nervous to see how acts like Kero Kero Bonito and all of the PC Music people would translate live because they were born and bred online, and everything they do is so thoroughly ingrained in online culture. At first, it was a little awkward seeing them outside of a Soundcloud page, but all of that went away pretty quickly. Their music is just so infectiously fun that it’s so easy to forget about everything and just keep dancing.
I started off the night with Kero Kero Bonito at Austin’s Hype Hotel. Intro Bonito is one of my favorite albums from last year, so I was super excited to see them in person. The venue itself is cavernous, an old warehouse whose only purpose seems to be to support the influx of people who come into Austin for SXSW. Everyone was still filing in because they were the first ones to go on, but I was there early and standing in the front row anxiously waiting for them to go on. Sarah Bonito is the star of their live show, a charismatic and bubbly figurehead who knows how to work a crowd. One of the most memorable things about the set was how they work with props — during a fantastic new song about graduating from college, she put on a cap and gown and sang about how getting a degree doesn’t matter; for “Pocket Crocodile,” she sang to a plush crocodile. It was the sort of star-making performance that you hope to see at SXSW, and I really don’t think there was anyone in the room who wasn’t a convert by the end of the set. For their first time playing in the U.S., it was their time to shine.
It was also PC Music’s first time Stateside, and they played Empire Garage just a few blocks away from KKB. The two acts are closely intertwined (one of the people in KKB performs as Kane West), and it felt appropriate to see them back-to-back. Because of the nature of their music, most of the night consisted of DJ sets, but luckily all of the PC Music members have such distinct personalities that every set felt more like a performance. But they really shined when someone hopped on the mic — I was already in love with Hannah Diamond and GFOTY, and their live sets only solidified that. Diamond’s glossy pop and GFOTY’s dance-punk translated beautifully live, and both of them are magnetic performers. GFOTY was accompanied by backup dancers and did some cheerleader-style dancing, while Diamond took the stage alone, but both were equally arresting. On the DJ side, everyone was great, but the clear frontrunners for the night were Sophie and Spinee. Sophie’s set was last of the night, and he’s been on the performance circuit long enough that the whole thing came across like a finely tuned machine, every drop placed for maximum effect. And while Spinee was clearly less well-practiced, she was just as great, trotting out some awesome new material alongside her hard-hitting “Hell Hound” and her crazy-great remix of GFOTY’s “My Song.” Overall, the night was a success, a dance party of epic proportions and one that I won’t be forgetting for a long while.