SXSW 2013: Pre-Festival Shenanigans with the Dig at Clive Bar and the NI@SXSW showcase at Latitude 30 – 10th and 11th March 2013

By on Thursday, 21st March 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

You may think it’s mental showing up a full 2 days before the madness known as SXSW officially begins on a Tuesday, but it was part of my concerted effort to ease myself gently into the maelstrom. That’s the benefit of having been through the craziness at least once before; not only do you not get lost every 5 minutes in Austin, you also have the foresight to take it easy as you can.

I arrived in Austin Sunday afternoon after a very bumpy, turbulence-filled plane ride from California shaken up but undeterred with the upset stomach and the chill in the air. (Not kidding. I must have looked strange wearing my winter coat and hat around town the first 2 nights and I am sure everyone knew I was from the East Coast, but I was freezing!) My first night’s goal was to see Brooklyn’s the Dig play the imgur / Brooklyn Brewery SXSW Interactive party at Clive Bar on Rainey Street, on the far southeast corner of downtown. It should be obvious that any party offering up free booze will translate to a good time, and in this particular case, the good people of the Brooklyn Brewery hosted this night of Brooklyn bands, with punters plied with all the free beer they wanted.

The Dig imgur Brooklyn Brewery party

This night was unusual in the sense that on Sunday before the Music portion of SXSW, the only people in town are Film and Interactive festival attendees, so the vibe was different but cool all the same. Not sure it it was the booze or it was because Interactive was winding down, but the Dig had plenty of fangirls and boys squealing to their music and kicking up their heels to their music. The majority of songs they played were either from 2012’s ‘Midnight Flowers’ or were brand new songs only that night seeing public light of day for the first time, so I felt very special being there for their premiere. The lighting wasn’t great but seeing that it was being supported by imgur, it made sense in the SXSW world that animated images lit up the tent under which they were playing. The next day I also sorted an interview with the band, which we posted on TGTF last week; listen to it here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzuJ7G6-10U[/youtube]

Monday was another relatively relaxing day, with few shows going on but really only one showcase I cared to catch. alt-J was playing some showcase on 6th Street and the only reason why I knew this was there a massive queue in the middle of the street and I finally had to stop and ask someone who they were queueing for. (Yawn.) Me? I was headed for the NI@SXSW showcase at Latitude 30. Not sure why they do this but the Northern Irish contingent likes to have a showcase the night before the festival properly begins, so I was glad I was in town to see it. (According to the video above, they do 2 days at SXSW before going on to Nashville.) The line-up had been up in the air for some time and it was not until I arrived at Latitude 30, the home of the British Music Embassy for the week, that I saw the final bill.

Girls Names SXSW 2013

First up was Belfast’s Girls Names. (No, that’s not a mistake, there is no apostrophe in their name. In an interview coming up soon on TGTF, all will be revealed…) How is it possible that I have not heard of this band before? Guh. It is hard for me to describe what they sound like to anyone else because I had such a visceral reaction hearing them for the first time. A little shoegazey, a little Joy Division-y, a little Smiths-esque, with gorgeous, gorgeous guitars. I cannot overstate how amazing their guitars sounded with Cathal Cully’s dreamy vocals. It reminded me why I stepped away from dance in the last couple of months and have been hankering for guitar music again; there is so much artistry that can be made from a person’s hands on the fretboard of a guitar that too few people in the world truly appreciate. One song had plenty of guitar feedback, with Cully walking straight into his amp; it’s not just for Ritzy Bryan anymore, folks! Check out their new album ‘The New Life’, you won’t be disappointed.

Tim Wheeler SXSW 2013

There had been a rumour that Tim Wheeler sans the rest of Ash would be performing. I think everyone had assumed he would headline the night but he didn’t. As expected he played some of Ash’s major hits, but what was more heartwarming was his closing number, in which he covered the Undertones’ ‘Teenage Kicks’, as if he was offering up a love letter to the Northern Irish music scenes of the past. I chatted with him briefly, telling him I barely recognised him without his beard and him wearing a three-piece suit. He replied glibly, “I like to confuse people!”

Girl from Mars
Burn Baby Burn
A Life Less Ordinary
Oh Yeah
Shining Light
Teenage Kicks (Undertones cover)

The Lost Brothers SXSW 2013

The next band were the Lost Brothers, an Irish duo who, according to their Soundcloud, actually met in a library in Liverpool. They look the part of world-weary folk performers, with their long hair and leather outfits, but they are the real deal, straddling that all too fine line between country and western and folk. Their harmonies are peerless, as if they had been separated at birth and reunited by the stars to make music together. At times they could be bluesy in the Johnny Cash way, and other times they were more straight forward folk. When I was small, my mother had a running joke with my father that country and western songs were either about being in love or having a broken heart. In the case of the Lost Brothers, they have both happy and sad songs, but they are all marked by excellent guitar playing and those all too beautiful harmonies.

I did not hang around for Belfast techno purveyors Psycatron; the evening had begun an hour and a half late and I was already flagging. Besides, I needed my strength for the official start of the festival the next morning. I was ready to take whatever Austin and SXSW 2013 would dish out.

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8 Responses

2:05 pm
21st March 2013

RT @tgtf: New post: SXSW 2013: Pre-Festival Shenanigans w/ the Dig at Clive Bar and NI@SXSW showcase at Latitude 30 10-11/3/13: http://t

2:05 pm
21st March 2013

RT @tgtf: Mary’s 1st (pre)SXSW 2013 review post with @thedigisup @Girls_Names @TimWheeler1977 @ashofficial @thelostbrothers: http://t.co

2:07 pm
21st March 2013

RT @tgtf: Mary’s 1st (pre)SXSW 2013 review post with @thedigisup @Girls_Names @TimWheeler1977 @ashofficial @thelostbrothers: http://t.co

2:29 pm
21st March 2013

RT @tgtf: Mary’s 1st (pre)SXSW 2013 review post with @thedigisup @Girls_Names @TimWheeler1977 @ashofficial @thelostbrothers: http://t.co

5:16 pm
21st March 2013

RT @tgtf: Mary’s 1st (pre)SXSW 2013 review post with @thedigisup @Girls_Names @TimWheeler1977 @ashofficial @thelostbrothers: http://t.co

[…] of mine from SXSW 2013 was guitar band Girls Names from their spiffy appearance at the NI@SXSW showcase on Monday night. I put ‘discoveries’ in quotes, because I really should have heard of them prior to this […]

[…] The Mighty Stef but the next band up were duo The Lost Brothers, who I’d been treated to at the NI@SXSW showcase on Monday night. Could it just be the confines of an Irish pub, but doesn’t every Irish band sound even better […]

[…] like to confuse people!” – Tim Wheeler to me after his solo performance at Monday night’s NI@SXSW showcase (11th March […]

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