SXSW Live Shot: Public Service Broadcasting
Think Man or Astro-man? and add a degree in astrophysics
By Richard Whittaker,
9:15AM, Thu. Mar. 19, 2015
Boffin (noun): A historical predecessor to the nerd, a loving diminutive for a scientist. Boffin rock (noun): See Public Service Broadcasting.
Think Man or Astro-man?, take away all the Roger Corman B-movie references, and add a degree in astrophysics. London duo J. Willgoose Esq. (guitar, keyboards, banjo, Geddy Lee-esque penchant for playing two of the three at the same time), and Wrigglesworth (thunderous drums) are as quintessentially English as Oasis or the Kinks. But the England of these retro-futurists is the valves-n-wires glorious future of the post-WWII era, when gentlemen in bow ties and tweed jackets with leather patches would save the world through technology.
Traveling light – without projections drawn from classic British television broadcasts – the pair retained its sense of impeccable decorum while powering through highlights from debut full-length Inform-Educate-Entertain, and last year’s moonbound sequel The Race for Space.
Undoubtedly the only SXSW act to sample Yuri Gagarin and W.H. Auden, they let the machines do the talking – literally. Prerecorded digital banter re-enforces the image of scientists engineering raucous rock, Willgoose’s only crowd interaction being the odd thumbs up. He reserves his intellect and energy for a Dick Dale meets Krautrock guitar assault.
Shamelessly intellectual, and referential like a library, PSB’s surprising live intensity has made them unlikely chartbusters in their native country. If a solid riff and odes to NASA engineers get people interested in science again, then proceed, gentlemen.
Complete SXSW Music coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw/music