SXSW 2014: Wednesday evening at Maggie Mae’s, Esther’s Follies and Parish Underground – 12th March 2014

By on Monday, 24th March 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

My Wednesday evening at SXSW 2014 started at Maggie Mae’s, where the Force Field PR showcase was being held. The lineup for the showcase included Withered Hand, Yellow Ostrich, Tony Molina, Painted Palms, CYMBALS, and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. I regretted not being able to stay to hear all of them play, but for the moment, I was focused on my pre-show interview with Scottish singer/songwriter Withered Hand.

Withered Hand at Maggie Mae's 12 March 2014

I arrived at the venue rather early and was graciously invited to listen in on Withered Hand’s soundcheck before we sat down to chat. Sitting in on soundcheck is always a nice preview to a gig, and this particular soundcheck was incredibly laid-back, almost serene in its calm. Despite the relaxed atmosphere of the soundcheck and interview, Withered Hand delivered a set that was both energetic and introspective, consistent with the mood of his latest album of songs, ‘New Gods’. The room filled slowly during the performance, and the gathering crowd seemed delightfully appreciative of Dan Willson’s acerbic and darkly humourous lyrics.

After Withered Hand’s set, I stepped outside to check my phone messages and my watch. I had an hour before I was due for my next interview appointment, which was just enough time to peek in at the Gibson Room, the upstairs part of Maggie Mae’s, where the Music From Ireland showcase was being held. I should have known better than to even walk in to the Irish showcase on such a tight schedule, because once I was there, I wouldn’t want to leave. In the end, I couldn’t resist a quick peek, especially after I was invited inside by a lovely Irishman who turned out to be the manager of one of the bands featured on the showcase, The Young Folk. (I couldn’t stay to hear The Young Folk play on this particular evening, but watch this space for more on them from later in the week.)

The atmosphere in the Gibson Room was amazing, with guitars and music memorabilia in evidence everywhere (natch!). I had heard that the venue was plagued with technical and sound issues in past years, but none of that was in evidence during my brief stop. I only had time to listen to one Irish band, but fortunately for me, it turned out to be Dublin twin sister duo Heathers. I was hooked almost immediately on their edgy rock melodies, especially ‘Forget Me Knots’, to the point that I completely forgot to take any photos (is anyone sensing a theme here?).

The lineup for the evening at the Gibson Room included an amazing list of Irish bands: Dott, Heathers, Hozier, The Young Folk, Wounds and Kid Karate (all of whom we featured here before SXSW 2014 began). It absolutely broke my heart to have to leave after Heathers’ set, especially as I’d been dying to see Hozier and I was now intrigued by The Young Folk, but I consoled myself with the fact that I’d be seeing all of these acts on the upcoming Friday.

I dashed out of the Gibson Room with only a few minutes to spare before I was due at Esther’s Follies to interview Kentish alt-folk collective Cocos Lovers. As it turned out, Cocos Lovers were running a bit late themselves, but I did manage a nice sit down chat with band members Will Greenham and Phil Self, who were gracious enough to talk with me while they grabbed a bite to eat before their set. (Keep an eye out for the audio of that interview, coming soon.)

Gabby Young at Esther's Follies 12 March 2014

The stage at Esther’s Follies on that night hosted two acts featured here at TGTF, the aforementioned Cocos Lovers and “circus swing” practitioners Gabby Young and Other Animals. Young’s band for the night was partially composed of a mix of local musicians, some of whom she’d just met the day before, but their lively enthusiasm completely overcame any difficulties they might have had. Young and her troupe were in fine form, and the audience at Esther’s Follies absolutely adored her unique and vivacious combination of jazz, flamenco, Vaudeville, and classical bel canto singing. Her glorious high notes drew special applause, and by the end of her set, everyone in the seated venue was dancing in the narrow aisles.

Cocos Lovers at Esther's Follies 12 March 2014

Cocos Lovers played a slightly more mellow but equally charming set, which was unfortunately not as well received by the crowd at Esther’s Follies, who by now were in the mood for a party. Particular highlights of the set for me included the bluesy harmonies of ‘Emily’ and the lightly tripping ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’, which I listened to with delighted new ears after our interview.

After Cocos Lovers, I made yet another mad dash, this time to meet up with editor Mary for the end of Modern Outsider showcase at the Parish Underground. By this point in the evening, I was ready to put my notebook away and get my groove on, and the last act on that bill, The Crookes, were the perfect fix. Read Mary’s coverage of the showcase here.

Special thanks to Daniel, Jim and Jay for their assistance on this night.

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2 Responses

[…] the opportunity to see many of the Irish bands I had missed at the Music from Ireland showcase on Wednesday night at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room. One of the bands I did see on Wednesday was Dublin twin sister duo Heathers, and I was excited to […]

[…] have been more of a stylistic contrast to UNKNWN. I had gotten a sneak peek at them at the Music From Ireland showcase on the Wednesday night, so I knew to expect a change of pace. Of course, it helped that before they […]

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