SXSW 2017: Thursday afternoon at the Full Irish Breakfast and the Radio Day Stage – 16th March 2017

By on Thursday, 30th March 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

It’s become a yearly tradition for TGTF to cover the Full Irish Breakfast, a daytime showcase put on by Music from Ireland at B.D. Riley’s Irish pub on 6th Street. Carrie generally does the honours while I usually take five, tucking into my complimentary breakfast, avoiding the pub’s Lipton tea and bemoaning the absent black pudding and mushrooms. This year for SXSW 2017, however, I stood in for Carrie at the start of the showcase, as she was down at the convention center, listening to Zane Lowe.

This was all fine by me, as the first band on were Belfast’s New Portals specialising in synthpop, therefore squarely in my wheelhouse. We had featured the act’s single ‘Winter Skin’ before Christmas last year and prior to our Derry correspondent Adam’s preview of the Northern Irish acts coming out to SXSW 2017. I should probably read our previews one more time before we go out to Austin because I evidently forgot that Mike and Ruth Aicken are married. They’re way too young and cool to be married! Ruth was wearing a baseball cap and her voice is sultry and poppish, leading me to compare her to Lorde and BANKS, both who young girls seek to emulate.

New Portals, full Irish breakfast, B.D. Riley's, Thursday 16 March 2017

I would think B.D. Riley’s is an unusual place for Irish artists to perform because on most days, it’s sunny in Austin and the windows out to 6th Street are thrown wide open. With New Portals’ music, it’s a bit odd to be hearing electronic music in a sunny environment and not in a club. However, Ruth let herself be totally drawn into the moment, singing with her eyes closed, grooving to the music as if she was in her own little world. But we were welcomed into that world, the buzz of the synths and the catchiness of the beats pulling us into the music despite it being eye-blinkingly 11 in the morning. As I looked around the room, I saw quite a few Guinness and gin and tonics being drunk, so it wasn’t too far from what it’s like being in a club…

The great thing about a man and his guitar: he takes next to no time to set up. For a completely different change of pace, fellow Northern Irish artist Ciaran Lavery was next up on the bill. We’ve been fans of Lavery for quite a while, and we covered him when he came out to Austin last year. The popular ‘Shame’, with Lavery’s plaintive vocals and simple yet effective guitar chord progressions, proved so disarming, I was nearly in tears.


Ciaran Lavery, full Irish breakfast, B.D. Riley's, Thursday 16 March 2017

Lavery clearly impressed the crowd, as several people asked me for his name and I recommended his live album ‘Live at the Mac’ that Adam reviewed for us at the end of 2016. I find his droll hand at stage patter hilarious, though I do wonder if it goes over better in front of Irish fans, several of whom had come all the way over from Belfast that I met at the breakfast. In any event, a job well done.

After sitting in on the enlightening and moving talk by Russell “DMC” McDaniels back at the convention center, I was able to catch most of Middle Kids’ performance on the Radio Day Stage early Thursday afternoon as part of the KCSN afternoon showcase there. I included the female-fronted Aussie band in my best bets of acts from Oz showcasing this year in Austin.

Middle Kids, Radio Day Stage, Thursday 16 March 2017

By the time they arrived at SXSW 2017, they had under their belt an appearance on American alt late night tv programme Conan, so they’d already had their American close-up with thousands of armchair viewers. The brashness of their hit ‘Edge of Town’ hit the spot with Radio Day onlookers. For an indie band on one of their first-ever trips to America, you really can’t do much better than having such a great reception on the biggest stage in the convention center.

Middle Kids, Radio Day Stage, Thursday 16 March 2017, 2

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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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