Reviewed by Marc Savlov, Fri., March 18, 2005
Nuno's, Thursday, March 17
"So this is the taste of SXSW?" lamented Aberfeldy frontman Riley Briggs, downing a dodgy, bar-gratis Miller Lite. "Hmmm ... SXSW tastes like warm piss." Someone give this man a Shiner Bock before Edinburgh's finest lovelorn popsters hightail it to the land of Maclays and Belhaven. There's no better way to kick off a festival any festival than with a previously unknown outfit that leaves a fully packed house standing slack-jawed with collective, gleeful grins, and Scottish band Aberfeldy, mining the fertile fields of pop-rock-folk ("pork!"), are apparently in on the secret. Official SXSW/Yank recipe for overnight success: Mix semi-nontraditional instruments like xylophones and fiddles with a blissful two- or three-part harmony (courtesy of bandmates Sarah McFadyen and keyboardist Ruth Barrie) with Briggs' soulful guitar, and the rest is as easy as heaven. Mining most of their Rough Trade debut, Young Forever, Briggs and company merged the melancholy twee of Belle & Sebastian with impossibly hummable melodies that cascaded over the audience like a warm and joyous bear-hug from a long-lost friend. Single "Something I Must Tell You," with its rushing electronic backside and close-quarter harmonizing was/is the perfect soundtrack to meet your future ex by, while the lovely "Love Is an Arrow" made couples pair up and off quicker than anything Cupid's done for us in ages. Genius. But let's let Aberfeldy have the final word, shall we? "You're such a lovely audience," finished Briggs, after the Chronicle came to his aid with a Guinness. "I'd like to make love to you all, slowly ... at first." Brilliantly put, and even more brilliantly rendered.