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SXSW 2015: bits of BBC Introducing, Music from Ireland and more – 18th March 2015

 
By on Friday, 27th March 2015 at 5:00 pm
 

Given our Web site’s generally UK-directed alignment, it would have been rude not to stop by the BBC Introducing / PRS Foundation night at the start of Wednesday night programming. I’m not really into psych rock, but I had been pleasantly surprised seeing Kettering’s Temples live in DC 6 months after giving them a pass at their high-profile slot on the Saturday night at the British Music Embassy of SXSW 2014. So I decided I was ready to have an open mind about Blossoms, whose songs played on 6music didn’t excite me much. I was very pleased that as a live prospect, the Stockport band are much more engaging.

Blossoms at BBC Introducing PRS for Music at SXSW 2015

Despite their young age (read: too young to drink in America), they’ve got a lot of swagger, and not just for appearances: musically, they’re a very tight unit. As frontmen go, Tom Odgen is a lanky, Pantene-beautiful, long-haired lad, bound to be a pinup on teenage girls’ walls in the very near future, but he also does a good job at commanding the audience. Then again, I’m a sucker for a Mancunian accent; 2 nights later, out in what seemed appropriate for boys from Manchester, sat out in the rare Austin rain, we complimented each other on our accents…

Blossoms at BBC Introducing PRS for Music at SXSW 2015

But the real expert on stage was lead guitarist Josh Dewhurst, whose axe-playing prowess was on full display on the single ‘Cut Me and I’ll Bleed’, among others. The single itself also is a primer on how to construct a radio-friendly pop song, going from a sinister, Scooby Doo-like minor key verse led by Myles Kellock’s keys to more positive chord progressions in the chorus. I had an accidental but entirely enjoyable opportunity to see the Northern lads play again Friday, when they filled in last minute for an absent Ghetts. In short, they won me over, including this possibly unusual tender moment about “the stately homes of England” in ‘Blown Rose’.

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After greeting friends from the Beeb, I was off to see Public Service Broadcasting play at LA promoter School Night!’s show at Red 7’s outdoor patio. I wasn’t about to miss my favourite tweedy chaps play a rare outdoor performance. I would have preferred better lighting – the dark reds and blues projected onto the stage seemed more appropriate for later acts to come Beat Connection and Urban Cone.

Public Service Broadcasting at School Night! at SXSW 2015

But despite the darkness, both their older songs from ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’ sat well alongside newer ‘The Race for Space’ tracks. “This is a song about an airplane” ‘Spitfire’ was met with audience cheers, as was early ‘The Race for Space’ cut and uber funky number ‘Gagarin’ and 6music favourite ‘Go’. (Catch my interview with J. Willgoose, Esq. of the band here.) I was sad to leave just as ‘Everest’ began his ascent towards its climax, but I had a date with some new Irish friends.

Public Service Broadcasting at School Night! at SXSW 2015

I arrived to Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room in the midst of Meltybrains? mental set for Music from Ireland. Another group of young European lads let loose on the festival environs of Austin, but entirely different results: at one point, everyone in the band jumped off the stage to start a conga line, and their fans were more than willing to join them in the impromptu dance formation. Their thing is masks, having handed out hundreds of lovely spray-painted ones to punters at the Gibson room that night, which was quite the marketing coup. All week, I saw music fans walking around Austin with their mask attached in varying alignments on their heads. You knew immediately they’d been at the Meltybrains? show Wednesday night and had enjoyed it so much, they wanted to help promote the band. Super cool.

Meltybrains? at Music from Ireland at SXSW 2015

The band’s most recent single ‘Donegal’ demonstrates their comfort with mixing up styles and genres, with lyrics in falsetto, atmospheric electronica and compelling beats and percussion, all mixed together, and live, the energy of young Ireland comes through loud and clear through their music. At one point I mused that maybe they were alien Rastafarians.I kind of wish I had arrived earlier to witness more or all of their live set, as I knew I had other obligations Friday afternoon during the full Irish breakfast at B.D. Riley’s and this would be the only time I’d get a chance to see them gig. But of what I did witness, it became abundantly clear that they were one of the top, if not my top band discovery at SXSW 2015. Stay tuned for Carrie’s interviews with both acts at the full Irish breakfast coming soon on TGTF.

Orla Gartland at Music from Ireland at SXSW 2015

Another nomination for my sound of young Ireland is the lovely Orla Gartland, who already had her first headline tour of North America under her belt even before she arrived in Austin. Wide smiles from the lovely ginger lass and her band were the order of the day, as Gartland played a selection of super poppy, super catchy songs from her catalogue that you know will hit the spot for teenager and tweenager crowds that are already stalwarts of Kodaline and The 1975. I think her success is already assured, with upbeat, synthladen numbers like ‘Lonely People’ and ‘Souvenirs’, driven by her clear, confident voice, which were accompanied by the squeals of delight from young fans excited about every one of her songs.

I found myself at a loose end and let’s face it, there will be moments during your SXSW where you physically do not want to move anywhere, especially if you’re stuck in a mob of people and you can’t move anyway. I caught a bit of James Vincent McMorrow, whose headgear could rival James Bay’s for biggest and most annoying hat of the festival. I very rarely enjoy falsetto – it works in Meltybrains? because there is more than just the voice to lead the song – but I found myself completely underwhelmed by his singer/songwriter machinations. Funnily enough, Carrie was somewhere else in the crowd but because the place was so packed, we never ran into each other; despite her affinity for the singer/songwriter genre and her excitement in seeing McMorrow, we came to the same conclusion about his performance.


I returned to Latitude 30 for the final act of the BBC Introducing / PRS Foundation show, Spring King. If there was something that certainly was not lacking this year at SXSW, it was loud rock music, played fast and raucously. While what they offer is not earth-shattering (watch the BBC filmed video of ‘City’ from this set below), hey have the kind of ethos that the Vaccines had on their first two albums, before they went pop with this year’s single ‘Handsome’. Which one of these up and coming bands are ready to take over the Vaccines’ mantle in that part of the music scene is anyone’s guess, but for sure, Spring King is one option.

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SXSW 2015: St. Patrick’s Day Brunch on a Boat with Generator NI – 17th March 2015

 
By on Friday, 27th March 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

At the close of the Creative Belfast showcase on Monday night, editor Mary and I were invited to attend a special St. Patrick’s Day Brunch on a Boat, sponsored by Generator NI and Invest Northern Ireland. The boat launched from the Hyatt Regency Austin boat dock and floated down the Colorado River for a couple of idyllic hours on Tuesday morning, while we were treated to muffins, mimosas and intimate, scaled back performances by several of the showcasing bands from the previous evening.

The first artist to perform on the brunch lineup was Hannah McPhillimy, who is the keyboard player for Belfast pop band GO WOLF, but who is also a talented singer-songwriter in her own right. She performed a brief set of her own tracks, showing her versatility by switching from the ukulele to the keyboard for her accompaniment. I was enchanted by the sweetness of McPhillimy’s voice and by the very different songwriting style in her solo work compared to that of GO WOLF, so I was well pleased when she agreed to an interview with me at the end of the boat ride. (You can take a listen to her interview here, if you haven’t already.)

Hannah McPhillimy at St. Patrick's Day Brunch 17 March 2015

McPhillimy was assisted by her GO WOLF colleague Scott Jamison during part of her solo set, and at the end of her performance, the full band came up to take their turn on the stage. The vivid synth pop we had heard from GO WOLF at the British Music Embassy the night before mellowed easily in this quieter setting, matching the cordially relaxed mood on the small open air boat.

GO WOLF at St. Patrick's Day Brunch 17 March 2015

Perhaps the most breathtaking performance of the morning was by alt-rock quartet More Than Conquerors, who in a rather unexpected stylistic transformation, appeared here as an acoustic trio. Kris Platt’s strident vocals, which cut so well through the band’s full electric sound at Latitude 30 the previous night, were softened and delicately harmonised by drummer Jamie Neish and guitarist Danny Ball, while bassist Danny Morton looked on from the small back deck of the boat. I was surprised, to say the least, to hear this band sound so lovely in an acoustic setting, but the sensitive performance of ‘The Great Deceiver’ we heard here is evidently a mainstay in the band’s live repertoire, though it hasn’t appeared on any of their recorded releases to date.

More Than Conquerors at St. Patrick's Day Brunch 17 March 2015

The final act on the brunch’s music lineup was a somewhat more predictable choice, folk duo The Lost Brothers. Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech were clearly in their element playing to a small room of quiet listeners, performing from a seated position and tapping their toes in unison with one another as they sang. They took the opportunity to show off their seamless vocal harmonies with a lovely performance of ‘Under the Turquoise Sky’ and closed the curtain on the morning’s festivities with a charming cover of ‘Moon River’ as the boat headed back into the dock.

The Lost Brothers at St. Patrick's Day Brunch 17 March 2015

Special thanks to Mark from Generator NI for inviting us along on the Tuesday morning river cruise. Stay tuned to TGTF in the coming days for coverage of another river-related event from later in the SXSW 2015 week.

 

SXSW 2015: Sounds from Spain showcase and a quick trip to the convention center – 18th March 2015

 
By on Friday, 27th March 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

So how exactly does a Chinese-American girl find herself partaking in complimentary paella and sangria and watching a bunch of Spanish bands with a bunch of people from there or of that heritage? If it’s in March, it can only mean one thing: SXSW. The glittery, colourful music carnival that was SXSW 2015 included six vibrant acts performing as part of Sounds from Spain in a tent Wednesday afternoon; none of them were like no another, which added further interest to the proceedings at Brush Square Park. Initially, when Carrie and I began planning out our Wednesdays, we were both bracing ourselves for an afternoon of poncho wearing and outdoor drenching by the rain that had been forecast.

It did rain – we awoke to it tapping on the roof of our friends’ house and we both groaned to ourselves for the terrible weather misfortune we anticipated later – but by the time I reached Brush Square Park to begin my coverage of the Sounds from Spain showcase at the exceedingly early time of 11 AM, the rain clouds were gone and about 2 hours later, the sun came out and started beating down on us, causing both of my interviewees Xavi Marín of Oso Leone and musician/producer beGun to yelp that even for Spaniards used to oppressive summers, it was too hot! As the week went on though, we wished that the sun had held out, for hot sun is still better than rain chucking it down, agreed?

Oso Leone was first up on the afternoon’s bill. Drawing their inspiration from nature for some of their song titles (‘Ficus’, ‘Cactus’), this band mixes up experimental, psychedelic, and chill and drone-y rock ‘n’ roll to create some of the most interesting soundscapes I’ve heard in a long time. The only other band I can think of who have been this inventive in producing unearthly music is Sigur Ros, so think Sigur Ros, but more melodic.


Disco Las Palmeras at SXSW 2015

Disco Las Palmeras are essentially a Spanish-language Pixies, with frontman Diego Castro preferring a deadpan, disaffected vocal ala Black Francis. They played it loud, they played it fast, and they had a good time.


Madrid girl group Hinds (formerly known as Deers until American band The Deers sicced their lawyers on them) and their sunny, ’60s-style garage rock need no introduction. As popular as they are in the UK and Europe, they’re just starting to make inroads here in America, which might explain why someone in their camp had the crazy idea to book them for 16 shows during their week in Austin. Hey, the 1975 played some 13 shows at SXSW 2013 and look where they are now, so maybe there’s some method to the madness. (Stay tuned for Carrie’s impression of them Saturday night at the NME/PRS showcase at the British Music Embassy, where I believe I should thank my lucky stars for not being allowed into the venue, as Carrie described the situation like being stuffed like sardines in a tin.)

Hinds at SXSW 2015

Rulo Y La Contrabanda have a very classic rock ‘n’ roll sound and since I speak so very little Spanish, I lost of the emotion of the songs not comprehending what was being sung. Most of the crowd didn’t have the same problem, cheering wildly for them and I assume having arrived early for the next act.


Phew. Okay. No amount of mental preparedness could have readied me for the punters’ reception of Macaco. A blonde Spaniard isn’t very common, is it? Apparently, this band with this guy Dani Carbonell out front is huge. I mean, massive. The amount of oestrogen in the tent went sky high just before they took to the stage, so it’s a safe bet they’re a big deal in the Spanish-speaking world.

Macaco at SXSW 2015

Personally, I couldn’t see or hear it (I felt like I was witnessing a cartoon), but maybe if I was a 20-year old living in Spain interested in pop, I might think differently? I’m embedding a recent video of theirs for your benefit and you can tell me what you think. I can only guess from this Facebook post of theirs that they guessed incorrectly that I was Japanese (haha).

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Last but certainly not least was my main reason for being there that afternoon at all, my pre-SXSW 2015 discovery of self-described “landscape electronica” artist and producer beGun, who I previewed in this Bands to Watch post. Most of the time, electronic artists are draped in darkness, playing at night in purposefully shadowy environments such as clubs. I think it’s a special treat to watch a master like him at work during daylight hours, so you can see how much goes into his live performance. I loved every minute of it.

beGun at SXSW 2015

As he mentioned in my interview with him before he performed at the showcase, the Barcelona producer is adamant about electronic artists including “added value” to their performances, to make it worth it to fans to see a real, live human being actually making the music live instead of just pushing a succession of buttons on a laptop or synth. On this afternoon, beGun certainly delivered, creating a swirl of music enveloping you and taking you and your mind to another place. I had a word with Huw Stephens about his music, so fingers crossed you’ll be hearing his music on Radio 1 soon enough.


Thanks very much to Rocio, Xavi of Oso Leone, the Agoraphobia girls, beGun and Agustín and everyone else at the Sounds from Spain party who made this American feel so welcome. Music, paella and sangria…let’s do it all again next year!

After my chill time in Sounds from Spain, it was a shock to the system to run – I mean, like run – to the convention center in an attempt to catch Laura Marling on the Radio Day stage. Who designs a convention center with escalators that don’t go up to every floor? Texans. I finally gave up on the escalators, deciding on a lift and nearly knocking over James Graham of the Twilight Sad, who was coming out of one, in the process. I guess he had had his fill of Laura?

The Radio Day stage, being as tall as it is and sat in a room that feels cavernous, isn’t exactly going to give you the warm and fuzzies. That said, what we do know of Marling’s new direction and album ‘Short Movie’ released this past Monday, her new material isn’t intended to give you the warm and fuzzies. Marling’s new pixie haircut, matching with long cream coloured trousers that made her legs look like they went on forever and with some fierce, military-style buttons down the left side, gave her a look that meant business at the KCRW afternoon showcase.


Because Sounds from Spain was running a little behind schedule and I refused to leave Brush Square until I said my goodbyes to all my new friends, after I arrived at the convention center, I only managed to hear half of one song and the final one, which was ‘Short Movie’ that everyone’s already heard. Despite obvious fans clamouring to be close to their goddess, the room was devoid of warmth and charm, which for me detracted from the performance and overall, I was disappointed in what seemed to be a lack of energy onstage as well. I also think they could have cranked up the volume on the amps for a more emphatic impression, but maybe the performance was meant to be muted for this all ages crowd? Well, as Meatloaf sang, “two out of three ain’t bad.” Or six out of seven…

 

SXSW 2015: Cerdd Cymru : Music Wales showcase at Latitude 30 (Part 2) – 17th March 2015

 
By on Thursday, 26th March 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Part 1 of my review of the Tuesday night Cerdd Cymru : Music Wales at SXSW 2015, starring Paper Aeroplanes, The People the Poet and East India Youth is here.

Kate Tempest at SXSW 2015, Music Wales

Next up, another 2014 Mercury Prize-nominated artist, but in an entirely different vein. Kate Tempest and her observations on life at its grittiest can stand alone as gripping social commentary in spoken word form, but with Speedy Wunderground label head and producer Dan Carey providing beats to add additional oomph to Tempest’s art, the result is nothing short of brilliant in songs such as the infectious ‘Lonely Daze’ and Steve Lamacq favourite and downbeat mesmeriser ‘Bad Place for a Good Time’. As should be expected, the opinionated Tempest punctuated her set with equally powerful spoken word pieces, reminding all of us to “hold our own” (stay the course and keep your chin up) and to be good to one another with “more empathy, less greed!”

Kate Tempest at SXSW 2015, Music Wales

An aside: Saturday night outside Latitude during the NME/PRS showcase, I found myself stood in the wristband queue with Tempest, Carey and crew and I asked Tempest how she’d been enjoying Austin. She said she’d had a good time but thought it’d been going on for weeks! As she shared a fag with Carey, I commented even with something as simple as sharing fags, the English were more polite with such things. She laughed at this, her blonde curls bouncing at my suggestion; she went on to smile at Carey and excessively called him “love” and “darling” for my benefit. In that moment, I was reminded that despite Tempest’s soaring success, she is like all of us. It gives me hope that the words and love she spreads will serve as inspiration to many.

Shura at SXSW 2015, Music Wales

From one woman, we go to another woman, Manchester’s Shura. If you’re into ‘80s music and New Wave, you can help but think you’ve heard this one before. ‘Indecision’, with its refrain of “you’ve got my love, boy” feels like a throwback to early, lace gloved Madonna, you know, before she thought lesbian kisses and naughty books were de rigueur. You know times have changed when a girl from Manchester comes to SXSW wearing a shirt emblazoned with the Hulk and plays this kind of music, am I right? She also pulled out a cover of Fine Young Cannibals’ ‘She Drives Me Crazy’: not earth-shattering, but interesting enough.

In what would be surely one of the rowdiest, most crowded club shows of SXSW 2015, Catfish and the Bottlemen played under a continuous red light (no Police ‘Roxanne’ jokes, please) to a packed house of fans and industry bods. This makes total sense, given that their UK and North American tours in the first half of 2015 are already sold out, making them a super hot commodity in the business at the moment. Rabid Catfish fans who were likely going to stalk the band all week arrived early to stake their places down the front, while those who arrived not so early grumbled behind them that they were being “rude.” Um, as in all gig situations, you wanna be up front, you get there early, ya dig?

Catfish and the Bottlemen at SXSW 2015, Music Wales

All the hits from their debut album ‘The Balcony’ – ‘Pacifier’, ‘Fallout’, ‘Kathleen’, ‘Cocoon’ – were fired out in rapid succession, with the crowd bouncing to the band’s catchy melodies and frontman Van McCann’s charismatic drawl and yelps. McCann, most likely aware that everyone in Austin was watching them, climbed atop the drum kit at the end, hanging the neck of his guitar precariously off a cable in the ceiling before they left the stage. Truly rock ‘n’ roll, innit?

Last up but certainly not least were Until the Ribbon Breaks, Welsh singer, musician and producer Pete Lawrie-Winfield and his live band. When I saw the now LA-based artist perform and chatted with him last year, I don’t think too many people knew of him or his music. What a difference a year makes: in January, he released debut album ‘A Lesson Unlearnt’, and he’s managed to cement his own fanbase while touring as support for the likes of London Grammar and Run the Jewels (who appear on ‘Revolution Indifference’.

Until the Ribbon Breaks at SXSW 2015, Music Wales

Hearing women behind me howl with delight over his sexy delivery of ‘A Taste of Silver’ and beat-heavy yet passionate ‘Pressure’ was incredible validation of what I already knew in 2014. I think sometimes people forget how important production is and what a talent triple threat artists (those who can sing, play instruments and produce) really are.

 

SXSW 2015: Cerdd Cymru : Music Wales showcase at Latitude 30 (Part 1) – 17th March 2015

 
By on Thursday, 26th March 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

This year, we saw a shift in showcase programming at Latitude 30 on San Jacinto Boulevard, the home of the British Music Embassy during SXSW. The conspicuous absence of a fully coordinated Showcasing Scotland night that had been put on for many years in the past and seemed to always be a given meant that there was a void ready for the taking, and at SXSW 2015, Cerdd Cymru : Music Wales and with the kind auspices of Welsh BBC radio presenters Huw Stephens and Bethan Elfyn stepped in to take over Latitude 30 on Tuesday night, lining up an eclectic bill to usher in this year’s festival with a bang.

Traditionally, there are much fewer showcases on offer on the Tuesday night of SXSW, which basically means that wherever you go Tuesday night, you should expect to queue and expect part of your evening will be spent groaning and swearing, stood outside your preferred venue of choice, unable to get inside. I am quick to point out this phenomenon happens not just to mere mortals such as ourselves, but even the man and friend of mine Steve Lamacq had trouble getting into Latitude 30 to see one of the Welsh acts he himself championed on BBC Radio. So now you know…

Before you ask, “just how many Welsh bands were there at SXSW 2015?”, I also should note that only half of the acts (three out of the six; four out of seven if you include the act who played the invite-only reception party) who played on the Cerdd Cymru : Music Wales bill are actually Welsh, though the choices of Welsh acts for this evening were perfect in my book, either for their potential or having already made it in the States. In my interview with Will Doyle, aka East India Youth, the day after the show, he explained despite his non-Welshness, his addition to the bill had more to do with Huw Stephens’ support of his music, and I suspect the inclusion of Londoner Kate Tempest and her sociopolitical rhetoric and Manchester electropop musician and producer Shura had similar backstories.

Paper Aeroplanes at SXSW 2015, Music Wales

During the drinks reception, Richard Llewellyn and Sarah Howells of Paper Aeroplanes from West Wales provided a gentle easing into the evening with their brand of alt-folk. As many of you know, the singer/songwriter genre isn’t my favourite, so I really couldn’t tell you if they sound unique or not, but they were pleasant enough as background music to the inevitable industry conversations that take place in venues at SXSW.

Things, however, were about to go up to 11 with the next band. The People The Poet, introduced by Huw Stephens as being from the same town as Tom Jones (Pontypridd, in South Wales), were about to give anyone who the previous band might have put into a near stupor (sorry, that would be me) a swift kick up the arse. The prior impression I had that The People The Poet might be and sound like a precious folk band was quickly dismissed as the group barrelled ahead with their set. (Read my Bands to Watch ahead of SXSW 2015 here.)

The People the Poet at SXSW 2015, Music Wales

If frontman Leon Stanford had any anxiety playing to a crowd of strangers in America, he didn’t show it. He was dressed like probably what most people think is typical Texan, with a large, wide-brimmed hat and a cowboy-style shirt that I’m sure he purchased on their travels here. His voice sounds like the youth of a young, yet still satisfyingly husky Caleb Followill (‘Molly Drove Me Away’) crossed with the wisdom of classic Joe Cocker (‘People’), with the band’s loud yet richly detailed instrumentation channeling the anthemic, feel good spunk of Bruce Springsteen (‘Heart of a Lion’) and even the blues / hard rock variant patented by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Considering that all the band are in their early 20s and weren’t actually alive when most of those people were in their heyday, creating such a sound is no mean feat. To play SXSW at such a young age and to make such an impression on people who had never heard of you and who leave and go around Austin telling everyone about you is a pretty big deal indeed. Mark my words, keep an eye on this band, or you’ll be left behind.

East India Youth provided a much needed injection of electronica early on in the proceedings. While Will Doyle’s appearance early in the night may have seemed a strange choice to those who aren’t into electronic music, my interview with him and indeed, the reveal of ‘Carousel’ in early February from upcoming album ‘Culture of Volume’ out the 6th of April on XL Recordings indicates him shifting towards a more pop-orientated sound that agreed with many of the artists on this bill. As an electronic fan myself, I personally didn’t need proof of his musical talent, but Doyle also played bass on stage, which he played with the same perspiration-inducing freneticism as when he attacked the synth, sequencers and drum pads assembled as part of his complicated rig onstage.

East India Youth at SXSW 2015, Music Wales

The compelling ‘Hearts That Never’, which premiered on stateside on American public radio system NPR the week before SXSW, also demonstrates his conscious decision to head in a dance direction, which I reckon will make his new material even more accessible to the masses. ‘Looking for Someone’, a sweeping cut from Doyle’s 2014 Mercury Prize-nominated debut album on Stolen Recordings, ‘Total Strife Forever’, has a slower tempo but serves a nice reminder how human electronic music can be, in the right person’s hands. I’m really looking forward to hearing his new album.

East India Youth at SXSW 2015, Music Wales

 

SXSW 2015: initial thoughts and The Lonely Wild and The Delta Riggs at StubHub / Culture Collide showcase at Clive Bar – 17th March 2015

 
By on Thursday, 26th March 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Part of mentally preparing for SXSW is looking over the weather forecast for the week in Austin so you can pack appropriately. And this year, the forecast was not good, with rain predicted for most of the time while we were in town. It turned out not to be as grim as weathermen had predicted – Wednesday morning rain soon gave way to a blistering bright sun beating down that even the Spaniards complained about being too hot, as you will read about soon – but the front end of the week definitely boasted the better weather, which was a good thing because everyone started off with optimism and plenty of patience, both which sadly waned with some people as we marched towards Saturday.

Tuesday is just the beginning, when you can still breathe, your eyes are fully open and not red and you’re on the sidelines, just stretching your legs and gearing up for everything. As the popular saying goes, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and that is indubitably true with any SXSW. As we awoke Tuesday morning to an overcast sky and light drizzle on our way to the St. Patrick’s Day brunch boat ride being sponsored by our friends at Generator NI and Invest Northern Ireland (Carrie’s write-up on that forthcoming), my day got exceedingly better after a nice, relaxing lunch – a short rib burrito bowl at the Chi’lantro food truck at SX Bites south of the Austin Convention Center – that was then followed by an equally relaxing stroll in the half-sun to Clive Bar.

Here, in this humble bar with reasonably large patio was the hub (no pun intended) where the StubHub and Culture Collide Web sites had joined forces for 3 days of afternoon and evening showcases. I knew full well I had no chance in hell in getting into their Thursday night showcase headlined by The War on Drugs, which, based on talking to a lot of music fans, bands and industry folks alike all over town leading up to it, was one of the biggest tickets in town that week. But I was perfectly okay with that. As you regular TGTF readers know, it’s a rarity, not the norm, that we head for the more popular, mainstream and, dare I say, hipster-buzzed about bands at a music festival.

No, I had arrived Tuesday afternoon to catch two great bands I discovered through my best attempt to listen to and rate each and every single band on the first three big band announcement lists for SXSW 2015 Music. To my great delight, both were entirely up for it! First on my roll call was The Lonely Wild, of the Silverlake area of Los Angeles. As I was surprised and wowed many times this week in Austin, I think I wasn’t prepared for the bombast of The Lonely Wild’s live performance. Neither or even both genres of indie folk or indie rock are sufficient to describe their sound.

The Lonely Wild at SXSW 2015

‘Buried in the Murder’, whose video I featured in the SXSW 2015-flavoured Bands to Watch I wrote on them in January, ended the set on a sweeping note, as the melody just begs you to sing along with the band as they emote the notes of the chorus. On it, the lead vocals of Andrew Carroll are raspy, as if he’s desperately trying to cling on to life, while the guitar line sounds like something Slash would admire. As mentioned in my interview with the whole band just outside Clive Bar after their set (don’t forget to have a listen to it here), they also premiered new song ‘Free From Harm’, which will appear on their forthcoming album ‘Chasing White Light’, due out later this year.

The Lonely Wild at SXSW 2015

Next up was Melbourne, Australia’s The Delta Riggs, who were about to rip Austin a new one. Having just arrived in Austin, three of their band members admitted to me in an interview post-gig they were suffering from jetlag but had hoped one night’s good sleep would sort them right. There was, however, no indication whatsoever of exhaustion or vertigo when they took to the stage at Clive Bar. Frontman Elliott Hammond, resplendent in a New York Yankees shirt he said his girlfriend got off eBay (sorry New Yorkers, he’s not actually a Yankees fan, or a baseball fan for that matter), oozes with charisma and owns his microphone and its stand, not unlike a young Mick Jagger or a more recent, non-beardy Chris Robinson, so much it felt like we were experiencing the second coming of the Black Crowes.

The Delta Riggs at SXSW 2015

This is rock that is uncompromising and balls to the wall, probably best represented by the incredibly catchy ‘The Record’s Flawed’ and the sleaze of ‘Bobby’s Flowers’. I unfortunately couldn’t make their other showcases that week in Austin, but I certainly hope they make it back for a headline tour of America one day, as I’d love to see them play again and maybe this time I can just go mental and not have to take photos!

The Delta Riggs at SXSW 2015

 
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About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest tours, gigs, and music 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 idiots.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington DC. She is joined by writers in the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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