SXSW 2017: a taste of Norway and the KCRW showcase at Elysium (Wednesday night, part 1) – 15th March 2017

By on Wednesday, 29th March 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

Inevitably, there’s going to be at least one evening at SXSW where things don’t really go to plan for you and you want to rip your hair out. You can have the best, most beautiful, seemingly airtight schedule ever created. And then bands miss shows, sets run horribly late due to technical difficulties and other things happen that you can do absolutely nothing about. I would guess Carrie would say Friday night was her moment of disaster at SXSW 2017, but it came 2 nights earlier for me. After watching The Heart Collectors at the Westin on E. 5th Street, I went on to my next stop, realising I wouldn’t have time to stop and eat a proper meal. Cue an editor’s surreptitious nibbles of a granola bar under the cover of darkness in clubs…

Something you forget after a year of being away from Austin: that monster of a hill up towards the Omni Hotel and St. David’s Historic Sanctuary. However, no hill was going to thwart me! I fixed my gaze on cocktail bar CU29, an oasis of tranquility on Brazos Street, amazingly not far at all from the nightly crazy going on 6th Street. Due to a delay in forcing non-SXSW patrons to vacate the club, first band of the night Tuvaband would begin late. The Oslo act is named after singer Norwegian songwriter Tuva Hellum Marschauser, and only half of Tuvaband was actually showcasing.


Tuvaband, CU29, Wednesday 15 March 2017

Suffering a similar setback to fellow Scandinavians Rainbrother, Tuva’s musical partner British musician Simon Would had visa problems and was denied entry into the U.S. Thankfully, their manager Ruben Nesse stepped in for Would and with minimal time to practice. Further, from what I understand from this Facebook post, their usual accompanist on piano Signe Eide wasn’t able to make it easier, leading Tuva to invite a random piano player from New York to join her performance. He was smiling and nodding his head during the set, so I think he was pleased to be asked to assist. It was just like Tuvaband’s newest single ‘Everything We Do is Wrong’ had come to life. I felt so bad for them, as CU29 seemed to have been the perfect backdrop for their dreamy pop. As their live performance was compromised by actions beyond their control, I encourage you to watch the video for their new single below to get an idea of what they’re supposed to sound like.

You need to take care on your way to the stage at Elysium. The venue has a weird series of steps that I’ve tripped over while completely sober and carrying equipment. There are also sofas placed oddly near the front door, exactly where you would not expect them to be. God help anyone who is in any stage of inebriation in this place. When I arrived, I was expecting the showcase being put on by Los Angeles radio station KCRW to be on their first changeover between the first and second acts. So I was surprised to see Gabriel Garzón-Montano on stage with his keyboards and accompanied by a drummer.


Gabriel Garzon Montano, KCRW showcase, Elysium, Wednesday 15 March 2017

I had to research the Brooklyn soul singer’s background after I saw him play: he was plucked out of musical obscurity by Canadian rapper Drake, who sampled a soulful hook of a song from an EP of his in 2012. His primary onstage gimmick is red makeup applied squarely over his right eyelid. I’m not sure if this is supposed to mean something, but it’s a memorable look. Like I said, I didn’t know anything about him when I saw him perform, but it was clear he had quite a few devoted – and loudly vocal – fans cheering him on.

Following Garzón-Montano were London via Lancashire electro soul pop duo Aquilo, my primary reason for risking the health of my limbs at Elysium. Equipment issues plagued the duo and their backing band, further delaying the KCRW showcase schedule. Aquilo, playing their second of four shows at SXSW 2017, were entirely worth the wait, sounding peerless as they ran through a blindingly beautiful series of songs from their debut album ‘Silhouettes’, which was released in January. If you’re sceptical, read my review of the LP here.


Aquilo, KCRW showcase, Elysium, Wednesday 15 March 2017, 2

Up against the stage, grooving to the music, blissfully unaware (well, almost) that I was the only person in the room singing along to the boppy ‘You Won’t Know Where You Stand’ and the achingly gorgeous ‘Silhouette’, among others. I was in heaven. As much as I detest the layout of Elysium – did I mention if you’re down the front, you’re basically looking up the musicians’ noses? – I was in heaven. The lighting highlighted the duo’s photogenic qualities, making it feel less of a club show and more like as if we were at a fancy tv studio taping. Nice one.


Aquilo, KCRW showcase, Elysium, Wednesday 15 March 2017

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