How the West Was Won


Dizzee Rascal
Dizzee Rascal

SXSWUK 08 is in a state. In a stalemate betwixt love and hate, Amy and Blake. And Pete, post-Kate.

The Gorillaz are extinct, and with barely a Queen, good, bad, or indifferent, in site (wither Mika?), it's been left to a New Yorker of all things to resurrect the anarchic spirit of Thatcher-era UK punk pioneers Crass that's so sorely needed now. Hullo SXSWer Jeffrey Lewis.

"If you want a vision of the future," Orwell wrote, "imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever." Prescient though he was, bear in mind one Liverpool lad's more optimistic visioneering: "Imagine there's no war ..." Tough one, that, but then that's why Britain's so great: equal measures of dark, war-tinged stoicism and funked-up electro anthemics, plus, for the first time in a long time, enough traditionally Churchillian bulldog eccentrics (Fuck Buttons are but one) to detect a musical strategy along the lines of that Liverpudlian's How I Won the War. The resistance would be proud.

It's not just the UK that's gone round the bend, of course. We're all waiting for the great leap forward, as Billy Bragg once noted. While last year's SXSWUK superstar Amy Winehouse was snagging (snogging?) a fiver at the Grammys and never-ever-getting-a-visa boys Babyshambles put together the best LP of their career – this despite Pete Doherty's disreputable promises to Rumpole of the Bailey et al. that he would "never, ever do anything like that again" – the rest of the world fell apart even worse than those two. You've not noticed that on Yank FM, to be sure, but it's all over Steve Lamacq's programming on BBC Radio.

Take, for instance, the case of Riz MC, né Rizwan Ahmed, the London-based, Muslim actor (Michael Winterbottom's The Road to Guantanamo) and rapper, who, since this time last year, has been publicly pilloried and briefly held against his will by UK Immigration and the Special Branch chiefly due to the sardonic wordplay on his ruthlessly humorous hip-hop take on terror, Tories, and other dangerous UXBs, "Post 9/11 Blues." We'll believe he's actually here at South by Southwest and not shackled up in some officially nonexistent Black Ops detention center in Kyrgyzstan when we see him perform. (Best of luck, Riz!)

Still, while there's an unmistakable air of 1984 redux arriving at SXSWUK 08, it remains – against all odds – hopelessly, helplessly hopeful, bursting with the return of big beat; a fresh fleet of harder-than-hard, ruffer-than-ruff, Jamaican dancehall-influence hip-hop from South London's Dizzee, Rascalian, grime-encrusted streets; and plenty of the olde guard on hand to guide their underclassmen in Political & Musical Upheaval 101 at least to their "O" levels:

Former Clash diva Mick Jones and former Generation X/Sigue Sigue Sputnik-launcher Tony James are now Carbon/Silicon, "national treasure" and perpetual one-man-Clash Billy Bragg arrives as Mr. Love & Justice (think Judge Dread but with more hugs: "I am the love!"), ska-novators the English Beat saved it for later after all, and the Slits come back with vengeance like the nonstop groove of reggae mastermind Pato Banton.

The globe (not Mick Jones' Globe, mind you) may be well and truly fucked, but here at SXSWUK 08, to quote Spaced's gun-toting Territorial Army teddy bear Mike, we're "the fuckest uppest," so grab yourself a pint and a Wombat, and "let's dance to Joy Division and celebrate the irony. Everything is going wrong, but we're so happy!"


An Entirely Subjective List of the Catchiest Singles at SXSWUK 08

"We're in the Music Biz," Robots in Disguise

"Battle Royale," Does It Offend You, Yeah?

"This Is Our Time," Ocelot

"URA Fever," the Kills

"Waving Flags," British Sea Power

"Our Bovine Public," the Cribs

"Charlotte," Air Traffic

"Buttons," Sia

"In My Dreams," Scanners

Everything by Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip

Who the Hell are Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip?

Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip
Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip

Glad you asked. Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip are a London DJ/MC duo possessed of the most acutely calibrated sense of social-realist hip-hop humor since Basil Fawlty met Terry Southern at Jonathan Swift's crib for a cup of Earl Grey and a bite of Edward Lear.

In the UK they're already aces, chiefly due to their unstoppable lyrical firepower, yo, and a series of electro-beat-bomb cannonades ( led by the devastatingly on-target "Thou Shalt Always Kill." Sample brilliance:

"Thou shalt not steal if there is a direct victim. Thou shalt not worship pop idols or follow lost profits. Thou shalt not take the names of Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, Johnny Hartman, Desmond Dekker, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, or Syd Barrett in vain. ... Thou shalt not read NME. ... Thou shalt not question Stephen Fry. Thou shalt not judge a book by its cover. Thou shalt not judge Lethal Weapon by Danny Glover. ... Thou shalt not use poetry and/or music to get into girls pants. Use it to get into their heads."


Indie Pop + Alternative Often = Oddly American-Sounding Music

The Sonic Hearts

The Rascals

Secret Shine

Look See Proof

Los Campesinos!

Our Lunar Activities



Unquantifiable Weirdness Indicative of the Times


Liz Green

The Heavy

Lightspeed Champion


Noah & the Whale

Magic Arm

Bo Pepper

Rocking Harder So You Don't Have To

The Big Bang

Furthest Drive Home

Gin Palace



Underground Heroes

The Pervasive Influence of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion on Young Minds

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis

Christopher Rees

Son of Dave


Back Door Slam

This Year's the Jam

Beat Union

This Year's the Fall

These New Puritans

This Year's Jesus & Mary Scream

The People's Revolutionary Choir

Song Titles to Die For

"We Hate the Kids," the Indelicates

"Steven Fucking Spielberg," Bearsuit

"Donkey Kosh," Florence & the Machine

"This Band Is Killing Us," Johnny Foreigner

Hip-hop You Don't Stop

Dizzee Rascal


Newham Generals

Killa Kela

Riz MC


Floor-Filling, Booty-Shaking, Electro-Disco-Fuck-Me Music

Simian Mobile Disco


The Ironweed Project



I Know I've Heard This Before

"Seven Nation Army," Alice Russell

"Bizarre Love Triangle," South

"Please Please Please," Copter

"Where Is My Mind?" Emmy the Great

"You Really Got Me," Robots in Disguise

"Who Loves the Sun?" Hafdis Huld

England & Wales

Adele, London,, Wednesday, 1am, Driskill Victorian Room

Air Traffic, London,, Friday, 10pm, Pangaea

Akala, London, , Thursday, 11pm, Fuze

Alabama3, London, Wednesday, 12mid, Latitude 30

Back Door Slam, Isle of Man,, Thursday, 1am, Opal Divine's

The Barker Band, London,, Wednesday, 8pm, Latitude 30

Bearsuit, Norwich,, Friday, 10pm, Thirsty Nickel

Beat Union, Birmingham,, Friday, 10pm, Maggie Mae's

Ben's Brother, London,, Wednesday, 12mid, Smokin' Music

Eric Bibb, Salisbury,, Saturday, 10:30pm, La Zona Rosa

The Big Bang, Birmingam,, Wednesday, 10:30pm, Tap Room @ Six

The Black Ghosts, London,, Friday, 12mid, Vice

The Blackout, Merthyr Tydfil,, Friday, 11:30pm, Latitude 30

Billy Bragg, London,, Thursday, 12mid, Cedar Street Courtyard

British Sea Power, Brighton,, Saturday, 1am, Maggie Mae's


Capitol K, London,, Wednesday, 11pm, Prague

Carbon/Silicon, London,, Thursday, 11:30pm, Friends

Carlis Star, Manchester,, Wednesday, 9pm, Smokin' Music

Copter, Birmingham,, Wednesday, 12:45am, Tap Room @ Six

The Cribs, Wakefield,, Friday, 11pm, Stubb's

Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, London,, Friday, 12:30am, Ninety Proof Lounge

Deluka, Birmingham,, Wednesday, 9:30pm, Tap Room @ Six

Dizzee Rascal, London,, Thursday, 1:15am, Scoot Inn

Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Reading,, Friday, 9pm, Emo's Main

Duffy, Wales,, TBA

The Duke Spirit, London,, Wednesday, 1am, Buffalo Billiards

Emmy the Great, London,, Thursday, 9:30pm, Latitude 30

The English Beat, Birmingham,, Friday, TBA, Momo's

Enter Shikari, St Albans,, Thursday, 9:45pm, La Zona Rosa

Esser, London,, Saturday, 11pm, Wave

Fanfarlo, London,, Friday, 11pm, Wave

Florence & the Machine, London,, Thursday, 9pm, the Rio

David Ford, Eastbourne,, Thursday, 1am, the Parish

Fuck Buttons, Bristol,, Friday, TBA, Prague

Furthest Drive Home, Farnham,, Friday, 8:30pm, Latitude 30

Gin Palace, London,, Friday, 8pm, Blind Pig

Gravenhurst, Bristol,, Wednesday, 1am, Smokin' Music

Liz Green, Manchester,, Saturday, 8pm, Latitude 30

Hafdis Huld, London,, Saturday, 8pm, Wave

Ed Harcourt, London,, Wednesday, 11pm, Smokin' Music

The Heavy, Noid,, Thursday, 8pm, Elysium

Hey Negrita, London,, Wednesday, 11pm, Latitude 30

The Homosexuals, London,, Saturday, 10pm, Beauty Bar

The Indelicates, Brighton,, Saturday, 8pm, the Rio

The Ironweed Project, Manchester,, Wednesday, 10pm, Prague

I Was a Cub Scout, Lincoln,, Thursday, 12mid, the Rio

Jammer, London,, Thursday, 12:45am, Scoot Inn

Joe Lean & the Jing Jang Jong, London,, Saturday, 9pm, Emo's Main

Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit, London,, Thursday, 10:30pm, Latitude 30

Johnny Foreigner, Birmingham,, Wednesday, 12:15am, Dirty Dog Bar

Killa Kela, London,, Thursday, 10:20pm, Fuze

The Kills, London,, Wednesday, 12mid, Antone's

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, London,, Wednesday, 10pm, Latitude 30

Koopa, Colchester,, Saturday, 9pm, Wave

Lightspeed Champion, London,, Wednesday, 10pm, Antone's

Look See Proof, London,, Saturday, 11pm, Wave

Los Campesinos!, Wales,, Saturday, 12mid, the Parish

Magic Arm, Manchester,, Thursday, 11pm, Stephen F's Bar

Laura Marling, Eversley,, Friday, 9:30pm, Ninety Proof Lounge

Newham Generals, London,, Thursday, 1am, Scoot Inn

Noah & the Whale, London,, Thursday, 8pm, Friends

British Sea Power
British Sea Power

Jim Noir, Manchester,, Saturday, 8pm, Maggie Mae's

Noisettes, London,, Wednesday, 12mid, Vice

Ocelot, Leeds, mthrfckrs, Thursday, 1am, Beauty Bar

Our Lunar Activities, Isle of Lewis,, Saturday, 10pm, Cedar Door

Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man., London,, Friday, 9pm, Wave

The Pan I Am, London,, Thursday, 1am, the Rio

Passenger, Brighton,, Thursday, TBA, Smokin' Music

People in Planes, Wales,, Friday, 9:30pm, Latitude 30

The People's Revolutionary Choir, London,, Thursday, 11pm, Creekside @ Hilton

Bo Pepper, London,, Wednesday, 12mid, B.D. Riley's

Phantom Limb, Bristol,, Wednesday, 9pm, Habana Calle 6 Annex

The Pigeon Detectives, Leeds,, Thursday, 12:50am, Friends

Pinstripe, Bristol,, Wednesday, 10pm, B.D. Riley's

The Rascals, Liverpool,, Friday, 1am, Wave

Christopher Rees, Cardiff,, Saturday, 12mid, 18th Floor @ Hilton Garden

Restlesslist, Brighton,, Thursday, 9pm, Creekside @ Hilton

Riz MC, London,, Saturday, 9pm, Latitude 30

Robots in Disguise, London,, Saturday, 11pm, Latitude 30

Alice Russell, Brighton,, Thursday, 12:50am, Elephant Room

Jack Savoretti, London,, Friday, 12:15am, Driskill Victorian Room

Scouting for Girls, London,, Saturday, 12mid, Latitude 30

Secret Shine, Bristol,, Thursday, 9pm, Habana Calle 6

$hit and $hine, London,, Saturday, 9pm, Scoot Inn

Shri, London,, Wednesday, 11pm, Copa

Sian Alice Group, London,, Thursday, 12:10am, Room 710

Simian Mobile Disco, London,, Wednesday, 1am, Antone's

The Slits, London,, Wednesday, 11pm, Flamingo Cantina

John Smith, Devon,, Saturday, 10:30pm, Stephen F's Bar

Sohodolls, London,, Thursday, 9pm, Wave

The Sonic Hearts, Liverpool,, Saturday, 1am, Latitude 30

Son of Dave, London,, Thursday, 11:30pm, Latitude 30

South, London,, Friday, 1am, Creekside @ Hilton

Stoney, Chislehurst Kent,, Saturday, 12mid, Creekside @ Hilton

Peggy Sue & the Pirates, Brighton,, Thursday, 9:30pm, Friends

Swampmeat, Birmingham,, Wednesday, 8:30pm, Tap Room @ Six

Sway, London,, Friday, 1am, Molotov Lounge

Switches, London,, Thursday, 12mid, Wave

These New Puritans, Essex,, Wednesday, 9pm, Antone's

The Thirst, London,, Saturday, 10pm, Latitude 30

The Ting Tings, Manchester,, Friday, 8pm, Stubb's

Trash Fashion, London,, Wednesday, 11:30pm, Tap Room @ Six

Underground Heroes, Chatham,, Friday, 8pm, B.D. Riley's

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, Cardiff,, Saturday, 10pm, the Rio

The Voom Blooms, Loughborough,, Thursday, 8:30pm, Latitude 30

Doug Walker, Manchester,, Wednesday, 1am, Momo's

Kate Walsh, Brighton,, Friday, 1am, Driskill Victorian Room

The Whip, Manchester,, Friday, 12mid, Maggie Mae's

The Wombats, Liverpool,, Thursday, 1am, Maggie Mae's

Working for a Nuclear Free City, Manchester,, Thursday, 9:30pm, Beauty Bar

James Yuill, London,, Saturday, 10pm, Emo's Jr.

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