SXSW 2017: the Killing Moon / ReverbNation / Metro showcase (part 2) and BBC Radio 1 / PRS for Music / PPL showcase – 14th March 2017

By on Tuesday, 28th March 2017 at 5:00 pm
 

Upon my return to Scratchouse for the second half of the evening, I was pleased to see that Manningtree’s SuperGlu were proving their reception Monday night at the British Music Embassy wasn’t sheer dumb luck. (And if you missed the first half of my Tuesday evening, you can read it back here.) While the room at the indoor stage was certainly smaller than that of Latitude 30, SuperGlu proved they could draw a big, not to mention animated and engaged crowd without the promotional muscle of the BME.

Interestingly and somewhat headscratchingly, Killing Moon, ReverbNation and London newspaper Metro chose to put the quieter acts for their Tuesday night showcase on the backyard stage at Scratchouse. I guess they thought people who would coming out to the backyard would want to sit on the benches? Folk rocker Reuben Bidez is originally from Atlanta, but a relocation to Nashville appears to have done him good, according to American Songwriter. TGTF readers know this kind of music isn’t my bailiwick but rather up Carrie’s alley, so we’ll be sure to keep an eye on Bidez’s progress in his new locale going forward.

As part of our TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 previewing acts from the South of England, Steven described Guildford’s Annabel Allum as a free spirit, one who “refuses to be pigeonholed or adhering to any kind of fad.” While I was keen on seeing Allum live, as it happens all too often at SXSW, it’s difficult to focus on a single musician when so much stuff is going on around you, in the venues nearby and with the buzz of chatter of punters who aren’t paying attention to who’s on stage. Under the eerie glow of lights on the backyard stage and wearing a flowy blouse, I got the feeling like Mt. Wolf earlier in the evening that a conventional club atmosphere (or even a coffee shop?) would have done Allum more favours.

Annabel Allum, Killing Moon, ReverbNation, Metro UK, Scratchouse, Tuesday 14 March 2017

Turning my attention back to the indoor stage at Scratchouse, it was time for Dine Alone Records act Mantra (stylized Måntra, as I understand it for purely legal reasons) to take the stage. Definitely more my speed. Growing up with the music of Led Zeppelin thanks to an older brother who for a time only listened to music designed pummel your eardrums and annoy parents, there will always be a part of me that wishes I could play guitar like Jimmy Page. Mantra are probably the closest these days I’m going to get to Led Zeppelin and one better, they seem to be taking the best of what England’s grand rock tradition of the last 20 years has had to offer into their sound. Namely Muse, or at least before Matt Bellamy went commercial (I haven’t forgotten you getting into bed with Twilight, Matt), too out there and sometimes just plain annoying.

Mantra, Killing Moon, ReverbNation, Metro UK, Scratchouse, Tuesday 14 March 2017

We’ve gone through an unusual period of seeing duos like Drenge, Royal Blood and Slaves prove you don’t need more than two people in a hard rock band. However, my memory goes back far enough to remember a time when rock trios like The Joy Formidable were questioned for their ability to pack in the firepower. There’s no such question in the case of Ealing’s Mantra. This is hard driving, pulse thumping rock for the headbanger, and this is the band who will renew your faith that good, hard rock can still be found in England. Check out my interview with the band in Austin through here.

SYKES, Killing Moon, ReverbNation, Metro UK, Scratchouse, Tuesday 14 March 2017

Time for a quick dash back to the backyard for my final band at Scratchouse for the night, SYKES. The band is named for frontwoman Julia Sykes, lead singer and keyboardist for the band. They’ve had an interesting ride so far, having recently appeared at the traditionally hard rocking Warped tour, wowing crowds with their self-described alt-electropop. Sykes, in a Chicago-themed hoodie, was the epitome of composure, and it’s not surprising, given that their band showcased last year in Austin and weren’t suffering from SXSW virgin sensory overload. It’s just too bad that there was a bigger crowd for Sykes’ yearning voice and their buzzy, crunchy synth beats, as this is exactly the kind of band I’d expect SiriusXM’s Alt Nation to pick up on.

We don’t do a lot of writing about hip hop and grime on TGTF because, as I repeated quite a bit in Austin to friends, I just don’t feel comfortable about us writing about it if it’s a genre we don’t know a lot about. Dave, also known as Santan Dave, which explains his otherwise unusual Twitter handle @santandave1, was longlisted for the BBC Sound of 2017, so it was nice to see the BBC put him on the Tuesday night British Music Embassy showcase sponsored by Radio 1, PRS for Music and PPL.

Dave, Radio 1, PRS for Music, PPL showcase, British Music Embassy, Tuesday 14 March 2017

I’ve still got a lot to learn about how this genre is morphing and expanding its reach in the UK. But even without knowing much about this Streatham native, standing there in Latitude 30 as punters looked on silent and in rapt attention, you knew you were witnessing greatness. It must have been a terrifying moment for Dave to perform on such a stage and at such a young age. But he must also have felt incredible validation by the reception he received in Austin.

Kent punk duo Slaves are no stranger to Austin and SXSW, or to TGTF for that matter. As rightly noted by drummer and master of ceremonies Isaac Holman from the stage of Latitude 30, they performed previously and on a Radio 1 showcase in 2014. I got on the Slaves bandwagon pretty late, which was probably for the best, as I refused to be swept up by the hype and wanted to decide for myself if they were an act I wanted to follow. Suffice to say, I finally got on, not so much for their musical prowess than for the sheer fun of their music. Let’s face it: Slaves’ specialty is hard, fast, in your face tunes, whilst also being tongue in cheek. Who else would subject one of their crew to crowdsurfing in a manta ray suit for their ‘art’? And really, how smart was it of Holman it to be wearing a coonskin cap, a symbol of American frontiersman Davy Crockett and a symbol of white entitlement, during this period of unprecedented racial prejudice in our country? I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he had no idea.

Slaves, Radio 1, PRS for Music, PPL showcase, British Music Embassy, Tuesday 14 March 2017

But make no mistake, they’re not animals, Slaves realise what they’re doing and while they’re all for their fans having fun during their shows, they’re also not going to be dicks about it either. Guitarist Laurie Vincent, realising that a circle pit was forming down the front at Latitude 30 in response to their aggressive music, acted quickly and helpfully to direct photographers out of the fray and to the side of the stage so their expensive cameras wouldn’t get destroyed in the melee. ‘Spit It Out’, from last year’s ‘Take Control’ out now on Virgin EMI, was a revelation live, and the crowd were completely up for their punishing show. Mission accomplished. It seems strange to think they’re still playing small clubs here in America but on the other hand, it seems fair. Even though they’re signed to a major in the UK and they’re huge in Europe, they’re having to win over new fans in a new territory, just like everyone else who tries to make a go of it over here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave Your Response

* Name, Email, Comment are Required
 
 
 

About Us

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.

Learn more about us through here.

RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Our Privacy Policy