Venbee live at SXSW: a high-energy drum ‘n’ bass phenomenon


Venbee is a long way from home, but you wouldn’t be able to tell on this cool evening in Austin, Texas. The rising drum ‘n’ bass star, born Erin Doyle, is taking over the city’s 3Ten venue as part of her first visit to SXSW, and the audience is singing along to every word of her songs as if she’s been here countless times before. Two fans – one in a neon cowboy hat and the other in a red bandana – are particularly enjoying the moment, chanting “aye, aye, aye” back to Doyle in between belting every word of her track ‘CPR’.

Flying across the Atlantic to play at the planet’s most buzzed-about new music showcase may have seemed like a dream to Doyle at one point, but after she achieved incredible viral success last year, this is the new norm for her. The 22-year-old dropped her hit mesmerisng hit ‘Low Down’ on TikTok at the start of 2022 and the track quickly took off, racking up over 40 million plays. She soon inked a deal with Columbia Records, before releasing the stellar ‘Messy In Heaven’, which hit the Top 3 in the UK Charts.

Credit: Ismael Quintanilla for NME

However, millions of streams and major chart achievements haven’t stopped Doyle from feeling shocked by her popularity, as she tells tonight’s crowd. “Bloody hell, what a day,” she says from underneath her large, furry green bucket hat. Even if she claims to be “winging it”, the songs Doyle plays, which jump between uptempo bops and earnest jams, prove her songwriting depth – and the fans squeezed inside the venue are proof positive that her unique style is resonating.

The beat-heavy performance peaks when Doyle plays her most-known tracks. Before she shares ‘Low Down’, she explains, “this song changed my life”, noting that she had written it in her mum’s garden. When a snippet she shared online took off, she was forced to finish it.

The audience truly lets loose during ‘Messy In Heaven’; when Doyle sings the track’s outstanding refrain – “I heard Jesus did cocaine on a night out” – the rest of 3Ten chants along. As she wraps up her set, Doyle tells fans they can expect new music, proving that her SXSW set is a sparkling preview of what’s to come.

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