On the Scene

Unknown Mortal Orchestra Win SXSW's "Catchiest Riff" Award

Imaginary award. Actual talent
Jordi Vidal

Are we allowed to give out awards to South by Southwest bands? Is it too early in the festival to bestow Unknown Mortal Orchestra with a "Catchiest Riff" trophy?

At Thursday afternoon's Pitchfork party, the Portland-via-New Zealand trio augmented their psych-pop-funk-hip-hop amalgam with reverbed vocals and extended guitar solos channeling the best 1960s psychedelic freakouts.

But it was the opener, 2011's "Ffunny Ffriends," that got the most attention. Over a breakbeat that cracks like a Golden Age hip hop beat, singer/guitarist Ruban Nielson laid down the deceptively simple, head-nodding guitar riff.

Heads everywhere, even those seemingly disinterested waiting for later bands, began to nod in unison, setting the tone for a crisp, 30-minute set that included "From the Sun" and "So Good at Being in Trouble" from last year's II. 

The track may be a few years old, but still has the power to convert new fans. Listen below: 

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