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Disq Fuse Noisy College Rock and Jangly Power-Pop at SXSW 2019

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Disq are exactly the kind of young, up-and-coming band that makes the madness and sleep deprivation of SXSW all worth it. The Madison, Wisconsin guitar pop wunderkinds recently released a seven-inch single, “Communication,” through Saddle Creek Records as part of the label’s Document Series, and Paste featured it on our Daily Dose column.

Paste contributor Justin Kamp wrote of the single, “The slapdash power-pop guitar-work of ‘Communication’ might deceive you, at first, into thinking you’re hearing the work of fresh-faced amateurs. There’s something disarmingly youthful about the wobbly riffs that open the track, something almost twee-sounding. So it’s even more disarming when singer Isaac deBroux-Slone skates in with his propellant, powerful vocals and bowls the whole house of cards over…It’s powerful, chugging stuff, the sound of a young band ready to leap up to the next level.”

Disq are comprised of lifelong friends Isaac deBroux-Slone and Raina Bock, who grew up in Wisconsin together on a steady diet of The Beatles, Weezer, Todd Rundgren and Big Star. Despite neither of them being of legal drinking age and with only a 2016 mini LP (Disq I) and this recent Saddle Creek seven-inch to their name, Disq found themselves on this year’s SXSW lineup, including a coveted spot on Stereogum’s Range Life showcase. I caught their set at the Danger Village and Force Field PR showcase at Austin’s Cheer Up Charlies. It was a 1 a.m. start time, which can be brutal for musicians and audience members, but given their performance, I’m sure both the band and the crowd wouldn’t have minded if it extended even further into the morning.

The duo was joined by three more band members, filling out their sound with extra guitars, synths and drums. Their set at the Cheer Up Charlies’ patio to several dozen people felt like a pinch me moment. Though their recent single showed plenty of promise, I had no idea how deep their songwriting skills and seasoned musicianship ran—and apparently neither did the audience. At one point, a man in the front row grinned and turned to his friend in utter disbelief of the band’s talent and mouthed, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

The scrawny Disq frontman Isaac deBroux-Slone is unassuming. He’s wearing a Beatles t-shirt, baggy jeans with rips in the knees, clear spectacles and big black X’s on his hands. One of the crowd members yelled to the young Thurston Moore lookalike to ask what year he was born, to which he replied, “1998.” Disq’s fusion of Sonic Youth-esque noise rock, Teenage Fanclub-esque jangle-pop and Weezer-esque twee-pop was visceral and punchy—containing sparkling pop hooks and distorted riffs that connected instantly. Brimming with confidence and stunningly compelling guitar pop in hand, Disq are undoubtedly a band to watch.

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