SXSW Music Review: Idles

The youngest, angriest, motorik-punk band on the planet

The most brutal band of the conference arrives from the historical maritime headquarters of Bristol, England, and could be the grandsons of that city’s reigning contribution to post-punk, the Pop Group.

Photo by John Anderson

Thursday night at Latitude 30’s British Music Embassy, BBC deejay Steve Lamacq introduced Idles by declaring last year’s debut long-player Brutalism his favorite album of 2017. After that bit of wind-up, the quintet’s absurdist visuals came as a surprise. One of the two guitarists dressed like a boxer, with his well-worn Stratocaster strapped all the way to his chin like a refugee from Gerry & the Pacemakers.

Singer Joe Talbot, meantime, resembled a fairly natty dock worker in his blue-knit beanie, crisp white T-shirt, and jeans.

Yet the barrage Idles unleashed proved infectious and ungodly, the most tuneful, danceable riot one could hope for. Drummer Jon Beavis beat 10 shades of brown out of his kit, relentlessly pounding out the same ferocious, primal, tom-tom-heavy beat all night. To that, add in two anti-guitarists happily dancing across prodigious pedalboards and avoiding every rock cliche in the book. In fact, the pair spent almost as much time in the audience as onstage.

For his part, Talbot led the captivated, pogo-crazed crowd in bark-along polemics like, “The best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich!” (“Mother”).

The effect was that of the youngest, angriest, motorik-punk band on the planet. By the time it all crashed to an close with axe-grinders Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan dancing atop the bar in loosely synchronized tandem like drunken show-band musicians – their Fenders issuing an effects-warped racket – all was right in the world.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Dungeon Family Headlines SXSW’s Free Outdoor Stage
Dungeon Family Headlines SXSW’s Free Outdoor Stage
Big Boi & Co. rolling into Auditorium Shores next Friday

Kevin Curtin, March 4, 2019

Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
A smaller SXSW Music week still satisfies

Kevin Curtin, March 23, 2018

More by Tim Stegall
Art-Punks Transy Warhol Carve the
Art-Punks Transy Warhol Carve the "Space to Figure Everything Out"
Quartet seeks Control in transphobic Texas on gushy, unabashed debut

May 12, 2023

Nine Essential Albums From Willie Nelson’s 90 Years
Nine Essential Albums From Willie Nelson’s 90 Years
Wishing the Texas outlaw icon a Willie nice birthday

April 28, 2023


Idles, SXSW Music 2018, Joe Talbot, Mark Bowen, Lee Kiernan, Jon Beavis, the Pop Group, BBC Radio, British Music Embassy, Steve Lamacq, Gerry & the Pacemakers

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle