SXSW 2017: Monday night variety, including Americana at the Swan Dive, pop at The Gatsby and rock at the British Music Embassy – 13th March 2017

By on Monday, 3rd April 2017 at 5:00 pm
 

After our arrival in Austin on Monday afternoon, Mary and I officially began our music festival adventures at SXSW 2017 on Monday night at the Swan Dive, which played host to a showcase of alt-country and Americana artists. We only stayed long enough to see one band, but it turned out to be a fortuitous choice, as the first act on the evening’s bill was outstanding Finnish duo Tuomo & Markus. (Mary also wrote about them in this previous SXSW 2017 review post.

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Tuomo Prättälä and Markus Nordenstreng are each career musicians in their own right, but they came together recently at Wavelab Studio in my own adopted home of Tucson, AZ to record an album of contemporary Americana, with contributions from well-known friends, including members of Wilco, Calexico and The Jayhawks. Though the album, titled ‘Dead Circles’, has yet to be released outside of Scandinavia (its North American and European release is due later this year), I found out later in the week that Rolling Stone contributor David Fricke had already named it to his list of ‘New Albums from the Best of SXSW 2017’.

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Following Tuomo & Markus’ set, Mary and I set out in separate directions (you can read her Monday evening review here). I headed to The Gatsby, which was playing host to the heavily-hyped and well-attended Pandora showcase. After a brief wait in the queue, I got inside just in time to see another duo act, FRENSHIP, whom I’d already encountered in my preview of Los Angeles bands at SXSW 2017. James Sunderland and Brett Hite’s high energy blend of organic songwriting with electronic dance music is immediately captivating, and their anthemic tracks ‘1000 Nights’ and ‘Capsize’ fit perfectly on the large, brightly-lit stage at The Gatsby. You can hear more about FRENSHIP’s Monday night set in my post-performance interview with them right back here.

"chk

The next act on the Pandora stage was Brooklyn-based dance pop band !!! (aka chk chk chk, if you want to say it out loud). They made an entrance worthy of all three exclamation points, and proceeded to shimmy and shake through a set that was equal parts glitz and Jazzercise. Their new album ‘Shake the Shudder’ is due out on the 19th of May, and if you love to dance, you’ll want to catch them on tour this summer: they already have dates scheduled in the UK and at home here in America.

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I’m not sure how I missed L.A. rock band Lo Moon in my aforementioned preview, but I was pleasantly surprised by their intense and atmospheric set on the Pandora stage. The video for their latest single ‘Loveless’ came out just after SXSW, and the drawn out anticipation of its slowly unfolding drama is a fair representation of their music, though they do make a much more powerful impact in live performance.

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Before the first night of SXSW could officially close, I naturally had to pay a visit to the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30. The last two bands on the DIY + TicketWeb showcase that evening were Manchester-based False Advertising and Exeter trio Muncie Girls. Both bands fall into the rock category, but False Advertisting were more on the fuzzy, grunge end of the continuum, while Muncie Girls have a brighter, cleaner sound. False Advertising do an interesting lead vocal/drums switch between Jen Hingley and Chris Warr, but as I was never able to see Warr’s face beyond his hair when he was singing, I think I’d have to say that I prefer Hingley in the forefront. Fellow frontwoman Lande Hekt of Muncie Girls had a more immediately engaging stage presence, though her pleasant smile was rather ironic, given the subversive lyrics behind her band’s catchy punk sound.

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Monday night at SXSW 2017 was a grab-bag of different bands and different sounds, but it was only the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned to TGTF for my further accounts from the week in Austin, and if you haven’t been able to keep up with Mary’s fast-paced coverage of events, you can find everything collected right back here.

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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. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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