SXSW 2017: introduction to our coverage, and Monday night with unlikely Americana and at the National Geographic party at Vulcan Gas Company – 13th March 2017

By on Monday, 27th March 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

We spend a lot of time in the months and weeks previewing SXSW. But I can say with certainty that every year when we’re actually out in Austin for the week, it seems to go by in a flash. This year, I saw more artists than ever: 70. So strap yourself in for quite a few posts about my experiences at SXSW 2017, along with Carrie’s.

The weather as a bit chilly the first few nights this year, requiring me to bring a coat along. But unlike the last 2 years, we weren’t hit by a monsoon of a sideways thunderstorm or saw performances halted by dangerous lightning during the week. Blue skies smiled on us all at SXSW 2017. I was grateful, as so many new and old friends had come out here for some good weather and plenty of sun, so I was glad this year we were able to provide both in large amounts. I think, too, this year more Brits followed our recommendations with the suncream, though from what I hear from Carrie, the Irish made the mistake – again – not to slather up the SPF for the Generator NI boat ride on Tuesday. But I’ll let Carrie fill you in on that show.

Tuomo & Markus, Swan Dive, Monday 13 March 2017

After a quick dinner and cocktails at Second Bar and Kitchen, Carrie and I went on to our first show of the evening at Swan Dive. If you think it’s unlikely to hear good Americana coming out of Finland, Tuomo & Markus are here to prove you wrong. Unless you heard them talking between songs, you’d have no real way of someone playing piano (Tuomo) or well-picked guitar (Markus) and their lovely harmonies from someone from our own country. Considering how we have been ‘marked’ for years for the way our politics have shaped the rest of the world and in a negative way, it’s nice to witness firsthand that our musical influences that are exported out to the rest of the world have a positive effect that leads to beautiful art.

This Monday was different than it had been for me in previous years, as I had been put on a guestlist to a very exclusive event (yes, ooh). The legendary scientific and natural sciences-promoting publication National Geographic had made their home at the Vulcan Gas Company for several days during SXSW 2017 as part of the Interactive third of things, and Monday night was when they’d be hosting a special party to celebrate all they’d accomplished. I wondered immediately upon arriving why I had eaten dinner before, as I was overwhelmed by a dizzying array of food, open bar and complimentary dessert from the famous Voodoo Doughnut’s outpost further west on 6th Street.

Hamish Anderson National Geographic, Vulcan Gas Company, Monday 13 March 2017

But as you might imagine, though, I was there for a very special musician who has had a ‘Hold on Me’ and I was excited to see live. On his second trip out to SXSW, Australian blues rocker Hamish Anderson was the entertainment for the evening. He said to me during an interview on Saturday afternoon outside B.D. Riley’s that corporate gigs are “always a bit weird” because you know you’re not the focus of the attention at the event. Despite this, he was the consummate professional, transporting us to a down and dirty club where his kind of rough around the edges rock normally resides. Sounds Australia sent out so many electronic artists this year that they needed to have a separate day of the Aussie BBQ to accommodate them, but when you’re stood in front of Hamish Anderson wailing away on his guitar, you soon forget – and maybe even for a moment, loathe – anyone who has to lean on electronics and Macbook for crutches during live performances. The Melbournian has a debut album out now, ‘Trouble’, that I highly recommend. As much as I wanted to partake on the free donuts, tacos and macaroni and cheese (I have a wheat allergy, sob!), the British Music Embassy showcase for that night beckoned.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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