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The Knocks, Coming Full Circle at SXSW

“I just saw a disco cactus over there; it got me excited,” said Ben Ruttner, one half of The Knocks, on Friday night. He and creative partner James Patterson had arrived in Austin earlier that morning, and the New York-based electronic music duo were getting ready to kick off the first weekend of SXSW with a performance at Audible’s After Dark Party at “The Audible Sound Experience.”

The disco cactus, situated next to a disco cowboy hat, was just the start of the extensive decor stretching across the parking lot along Congress Avenue. The centerpiece of the two-day carnival-inspired experience was a large rainbow-lit Ferris wheel, with each gondola of the ride equipped with narrative audio selections. Back on the ground, there were Audible-themed games (prizes were Audible merch).

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The Friday night opening party was hosted in collaboration with Brooklyn performance venue House of Yes, who added stilt walkers, a face glitter station, costumed dancers — and a set by The Knocks — into the mix.

“House of Yes is staple, OG, classic New York throwback warehouse party. We’ve been New Yorkers for most of our lives, so we feel pretty embedded in that scene,” said Patterson. “We’re just happy to be part of the family.

“And they love disco, and that’s our M.O.,” added Ruttner.

The group, who released their latest album “History” in 2022, have another EP in the works, a “collab project” that they’re hoping to release later this year. “We’re kind of putting the final touches on that right now,” said the pair, also shouting out their recent single release “One on One,” with Sofi Tukker. They’ve also been working with Lily Allen for the singer’s anticipated forthcoming record.

“She’s an icon,” said Ruttner. “She’s got a lot to say, and she’s got a lot of cool stories. She’s one of those artists that only thinks about very real stuff. She’s not making up anything — so it’s really fun. Writing songs with her is like story time with music.”

The Knocks were in town through the end of the weekend, with another SXSW set on deck for Sunday night.

“We’ve been coming down here since even before we were a band. We used to come down and do the whole slog, and carry gear, and do the whole thing,” said Ruttner. “So coming down here is very nostalgic, at least for me. We had some of our best times that I can remember playing music here and really getting our teeth cut from playing shows. It’s kind of like bootcamp for playing music.”

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 08: The Knocks perform at Audible and House of Yes’ SXSW ‘After Dark Party’ at The Audible Sound Experience on March 08, 2024 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Audible at SXSW)
The Knocks perform at After Dark Party. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Audible at SXSW)
AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 08: Guests kick-off SXSW at The Audible Sound Experience during ‘After Dark Party’ hosted by Audible in Collaboration with House of Yes on March 08, 2024 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Audible at SXSW)
Guests kick-off SXSW at The Audible Sound Experience during After Dark Party. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Audible at SXSW)
AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 08: The Knocks perform at Audible and House of Yes’ SXSW ‘After Dark Party’ at The Audible Sound Experience on March 08, 2024 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Audible at SXSW)
The Knocks perform at After Dark Party. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Audible at SXSW)

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