SXSW 2018: catching Brits and Europeans Wednesday night – 14th March 2018 (Part 3)

By on Wednesday, 28th March 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

After getting our drink on at the Focus Wales drink reception, I left Carrie to catch two Welsh acts before running down nearly to the other end of the busy part of East 6th Street, ending up at the very colourful Esther’s Follies for my first visit in 7 years. In its normal, non-SXSW form, the place puts on comedy and vaudeville shows. As you should expect, there’s theatre-type seating in this venue, which offers the unique opportunity for a photographer to get real close to the artists while the rest of the audience, well, is comfortably seated and a good distance away from the stage.

The 8 PM slot isn’t always a great one at SXSW 2018, but it worked out wonderfully for Austrian duo Leyya and their live band. I featured them in one of four preview write-ups I did for the Music Bloggers Guide to SXSW 2018. Even though they were classed in the avant / experimental genre in this year’s SXSW schedule, in reality what Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer are doing is putting together the best bits of pop, soul, electronic and percussive music. This is music designed to get your body moving and grooving but without the pretension of intellectual electronic but with more bite and presence than the average pop band. They’re exactly the kind of act who make me excited about the future of music: artists who are willing to take chances, stepping out of the mainstream box and trying something different, with amazing results. My only wish for their performance was to have more people swinging their partners to and fro to their music!

Leyya Wednesday at SXSW 2018 2

I got hung up at Esther’s Follies for longer than I expected – I indulged a Leyya superfan and took a photo of her and Sophie after their set – so I decided a nice saunter over to the Waller Ballroom was better than trying to rush off somewhere else. The Waller Ballroom was Dutch New Wave’s venue for the week, having an indoor space plus a nice biergarden outside. I’m sure it was something else previously, but the door staff couldn’t tell me what it used to be. Once inside, I was surprised by the weird, rectangular shape of the room, the stage more than twice as long as the room’s depth. It made for strange options for photography, that’s for sure.

A parade of white and black Dutch people came through the doors after I arrived, talking up a storm, slapping each other on the back. While I couldn’t understand what they were saying, it was clear they showed up to provide support to their friends The Homesick from Dokkum. Living in a country so divided by race like ours, such a simple thing between friends was heartwarming to me. Then it was time for the band to take the stage. While going through all the bands scheduled to appear in Austin from the Continent, The Homesick were in my top five bands I definitely wanted to see. They’re a young band, but they’ve already figured out how to write a compelling song, compelling in the sense that their songwriting captures your imagination and keeps you wanting more. The driving guitars and drumbeats in their rock songs are simultaneously weird and wonderful. Watching Elias Elgersma wail on his guitar with awe-inspiring dexterity, I realised I was experiencing something special indeed. Read my preview of their appearance in Austin through here.

The Homesick Wednesday at SXSW 2018 3

Having gotten an appropriate Homesick fix, I intended to catch American duo Bat Fangs at Barracuda’s indoor stage as part of the Ground Control Touring showcase there. Oddly, my press pass didn’t let me in. Rebuffed, instead of waiting, I thought I’d just go around the corner to the 720 Club and wait for The RPMs to start their set. Brighton’s newest hope for the next big British guitar band were setting up in the hole in the wall club.

Which I mean quite literally. The band are a five-piece and only the keyboardist and drummer could fit on the stage. This was definitely an opportunity to get up close and personal with your musical idols! Although the rough and tumble nature of the venue seemed more appropriate for a punk band, the RPMs filled the room with their brand of glittery synthpop and rock and this show, along with their appearance at the British Music Embassy Friday afternoon, showed they have loads of potential to be as big as their own influences. Read my SXSW 2018 preview piece on The RPMs through here.

The RPMs Wednesday at SXSW 2018
As you can see, the stage was brightly lit at the 720 Club, but the floor wasn’t.

Then it was time to pop back to the British Music Embassy. I didn’t need to see Frank Turner there, as I knew uber fan Carrie would catch him during the week some point. However, I did want to get into Latitude 30 early enough for Sam Fender and not have to jockey for a good position to see him and his band playing. As you might imagine, Frank Turner was a huge draw for Brits and Americans alike, so the place was one in, one out when I arrived. I’m not sure why this hadn’t occurred to Latitude 30 staff until that moment – maybe it was because it had been unseasonably cold in Austin since we arrived? – but they decided that night to open up the windows so those in the queues could hear Turner play. He ended his set with a rousing version of ‘Polaroid Picture’ that had nearly everyone inside and outside singing along. I recognised the song but not knowing the words, I just bobbed my head to the beat. Good enough, right? For more photos from my Wednesday at SXSW 2018, visit my Flickr.

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