AlunaGeorge helps SXSW lose track of time past the witching hour

In college, the mother of one of my good friends would wait up for us on the curb of her house until we pulled up well after midnight most summer nights. She would yell that nothing good could happen that late at night. She wasn’t much of a festival-goer.

At 1 a.m. on Wednesday night, British electro-dance duo AlunaGeorge — aka Aluna Francis and George Reid — helped a delirious audience disengage from a long day and completely surrender to rhythm and free Tito’s vodka. Francis herself seemed to forget where she was at the start of the set, because she certainly didn’t say she was at Hype Hotel.

Photo by Eric Webb

Photo by Eric Webb

Regardless of location, the singer was decked out in her best vintage Whitney Houston sun visor, dishing out body rolls and attitude to spare from opener “Attracting Flies.” The banter was minimal, because as mentioned, it was 1 a.m. in an East Austin warehouse. “White Noise,” the group’s track with Disclosure, was a blinding snowdrift of mindless locomotion. “Best Be Believing” later on amped up the energy (which was already nuclear) thanks to its tight, technical beat and Francis’ theatrical pantomime.

New single “I’m In Control” was the unequivocal highlight of the evening, its swooping, undulating dancehall rhythm worthy of catalogue by the CDC. The trippy synthesizer gave the exhausted crowd just enough of an EDM hook to close their eyes and let the soundwaves swallow them whole.

As the evening crept dangerously close to the time some city workers set morning alarms, AlunaGeorge gave Hype Hotel “You Know You Like It,” their radio-penetrating feature with DJ Snake. But “I’m In Control” remained the high-water mark of an evening that proved the duo’s pop promise way back in 2013 — when album “Body Music” came out — is still thrillingly real in 2016.