Review: Pulled Apart By Horses @ Latitude 30, SXSW

pulled apart

So what do you have to do to make an impression at the SXSW festival? There’s over 600 events a day, taking place at countless venues across the business end of Austin. You’ve got maybe ten minutes to get a quick soundcheck done, probably three of four other bands on the same bill hoping to steal your limelight.

Maybe you rely on hype, some bands arrive in Austin with so much media attention behind them a lot of critics and crucial A&R people have already decided on a verdict before a single note has been played. Or maybe you could just make sure you’re the best live band performing at the festival – maybe you could just conduct yourselves like Pulled Apart By Horses.

What makes the Leeds natives so special is they perform the gig of their lives every time they take to the stage; no matter where they happen to be, or to how many people they are playing to. So when coming on third at the British Music Embassy’s excellent Yorkshire/North East showcase held in Latitude 30 on the final day of this year’s SXSW, Pulled Apart By Horses were always likely to be the band to steal the show.

It’s not like their wasn’t competition; more excellent punk/metal anthems from fellow Leeds boys Dinosaur Pile-Up and the always catchy indie/funk foot-tappers from Little Comets, as witnessed by previously by Live4ever yesterday, made for a strong line-up of acts hailing from the right end of England. It was always Pulled Apart By Horses’ day though, unleashing an action packed half hour that would leave a very respectable turn out which would last throughout the day at Latitude wondering what on earth had hit them.

For starters, it was frontman Tom Hudson who first displayed what makes the four-piece such a great live act, leaving the platform not long in to crank out a thunderous guitar break right in the midst of the baying crowd. Hudson teeters on the edge of a bar table being just about held firm by a quick thinking fan and by the time he returns to the relative normality of the stage the table is on the floor in two pieces, the first casualty of the mayhem.

Next, guitarist James Brown goes for a wander onto the bar, performing his own guitar work from the new lofty position before being escorted back to the stage via the shoulders of a more than willing punter, all the while not missing a note of the super-charged punk anthems which run throughout the set.

Crowd favourites back home and new favourites in Latitude such as the ridiculously great, refrain looping single ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’ are aired as a truly triumphant set brought to a close with Hudson once again leaving the stage microphone stand in hand to join a crowd which is now in the palm of his hand and transfixed by his band‘s every move. Relaxed stage banter in between the highly charged rock thundering from the speakers has helped to create a special atmosphere, and yet another brilliant chapter in the gig is written when members of stable-mates Dinosaur Pile-Up briefly take over guitar and vocal duties to bring to an end a show which no-one present will be able to forget in a hurry.

As the final notes fade down, Hudson throws up off stage. Another audience member joins him. There’s stains on the floor. There’s quite literally a mark left in Latitude, and indeed at SXSW 2011.

(Dave Smith)

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