British Invasion: SXSW wooed by transatlantic talent

Austin’s 24th annual South by Southwest is nothing short of a roaring success, complete with excessive foot traffic, eclectic garb and the guarantee that your ears will ring for days on end. With nearly every musical genre represented throughout the five-day festival, I was less than surprised to pass crowds of confused-looking 20-somethings trying to decide which show to attend. Oh, the choices.

Although South-By typically yields a strong return of homegrown unsigned artists, the international music pool was well represented at this year’s event. Up-and-coming British indie band The Vaccines did not cease to please as they charmed crowds with their hipster beards and enthusiastic tunes. Performing at one of AOL’s meticulously planned pop-up shows on Wednesday, the group inoculated the audience with their melodies, making them one of the most sought after South by acts in the ensuing days.

A refreshing blend of punk and pop, lead singer Justin Young croons out his tunes with poise. Respectably dressed and properly washed, Young instantly eradicated stereotypical notions of unruly, grungy Brits. Visibly influenced by the Ramones and nothing short of ear candy, The Vaccines’ music will keep your toes tapping time and a melody lodged in your brain.

Let’s move on to Veronica Falls: I simply could not get enough. Pregnant with undertones of Belle and Sebastian, songs captured that quintessentially British sound we Americans adore. Coincidentally, lead singer and guitarist Roxanne Clifford emits a captivating innocence, holding fans captive while listening to her balmy vocals. Keep your eyes peeled for these spunky popsters, as I’ll be shocked if we don’t see much more of them in days to come.

Similarly, London-based alternative rock band Yuck delivered powerful sets, leaving a strong impression upon fans. Don’t be fooled by the named – Yuck is simply delightful, aptly catering to that slightly grungier, more deviant side of us that unabashedly loves the Killers and Radiohead. Their popular single “Get Away” is a bit ominous; yet, a cheerful base line acts as the guiding light through the dark.

Whether it’s those cheeky accents, their impeccable sense of fashion, or the fact that they are ridiculously talented, South-By (and this writer) are quite smitten with British groups. With but a few precious days left before many bands pack up their gear and head back across the pond, there is still time to experience the delightfully bohemian allure of South by Southwest for yourself. If the music doesn’t appeal, come in search of an eligible Brit rocker – because we all can’t snag princes, can we?

-Bonnie Berger