Editor Mary is in Toronto for CMW 2016 this week.
Ongoing coverage of the event will be on our Twitter and on the site this way.
SXSW 2016 | 2015
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Across 8 days in late June into early July, some of the biggest names in contemporary music, along with some incredible up-and-comers, will descend on the Danish island of Zealand to take part in the open-air Roskilde Festival. From the 25th of June to the 2nd of July, Roskilde will be featuring an incredible 183 acts across nine stages at the largest music festival in Northern Europe.
Wednesday will see the likes of Wiz Khalifa and At the Drive-In on the Arena stage, as well as Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes on Avalon and Red Hot Chili Peppers as headliners on the Orange stage. Also on the Orange stage, earlier in the day, will be The Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music, a group of musicians torn apart by the war in Syria but reassembled in January of this year and who will be performing alongside Damon Albarn and guests. The orchestra, who have previously worked with Albarn on Gorillaz’ ‘Plastic Beach’ album, will be a sight to see. From what I’ve seen on YouTube, they look pretty incredible and I can only imagine how they sound live.
The always crowd-pleasing Hinds from Madrid, who released their debut LP ‘Leave Me Alone’ earlier this year, will be representing the Spanish indie rock scene. Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band of Ghana are sure to be a dance-fuelled joyful experience, bringing Afro-funk and a carnival-esque feel to the Avalon stage: a must catch for anyone wanting to experience a spectacular African inspired sound.
On Thursday there’s another wide variety of acts to see, with most musical tastes catered to. Tenacious D, CHVRCHES, PJ Harvey, Santigold and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are a selection of the eclectic mix of acts that will be playing throughout the day. Dev Hynes as Blood Orange, who you will recall going by the name Lightspeed Champion in the past, is also among the line-up and will be one to catch for any soul/funk lovers, while London female post-punk outfit Savages are a good shout for anyone hoping to catch something a little heavier. You can also catch hitmaker Elle King, a dusky-voiced soul-rock singer who released her debut album in 2015 and whose banjo-laced music is given a country sounding edge, on Thursday.
Moving on to Friday, there’s again plenty for everyone. Biffy Clyro will be playing on the Arena stage, which should be a good show considering the trio have just announced their new album ‘Ellipsis’, their newest since 2013. Foals will also be playing, along with Skepta, M83 and Neil Young and Promise of the Real. Aussies Tame Impala are not to be missed, as their infectious psychedelic pop rock will have even the stiffest of dancers bopping along. Also on Friday, James Blake will be playing, as well as the incredible Hurray for the Riff Raff, whose bluesy indie folk will be perfect for those that don’t fancy catching Biffy Clyro.
Saturday brings music behemoths New Order to the stage, along with LCD Soundsystem, Miike Snow and The Last Shadow Puppets (pictured at top in their younger days, but who have just released a new album.) I also came across Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra while researching the festival and am hooked on their funky, jazz-trimmed abstract style; I am now jealous of everyone that will get to see them in action. Brazilian-born singer/songwriter Dillon is not to be missed, his throaty voice and gentle, electronic melodies accompanied by piano evocative and moving. The Entrepreneurs are also worth catching: their lofty, eerie sound is described as “noise and romance” on the band’s Facebook, and this sums them up pretty well.
The festival also offers, along with the incredible array of music detailed above, the opportunity to participate in or simply witness the mad splendour that is the annual Naked Run. Yes, that’s right, men and women competing in a race in all their naked glory for a ticket for next year’s festival. There are still tickets available for this year if you fancy getting involved in the action, and the festival website details travel and accommodation information.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 27th April 2016 at 11:00 am
What event starts up in earnest next week and has been kicking around longer than SXSW, and yet you may never have heard of its name? Canadian Music Week, 34 years young in 2016, kicks things off this coming Monday, the 2nd of May, through to the wee hours of Saturday, the 8th of May. And possibly longer, depending on how long the revelers last, eh? (Sorry, I had to get a good-hearted Canadian joke in there somewhere.) Naturally, it takes place in Canada’s most populous city, the crown jewel of the province of Ontario, and arguably its multicultural and cosmopolitan heart, Toronto. It’s a city I can’t wait to explore and come see for myself.
Like SXSW, Canadian Music Week 2016 will boast plenty of evening music showcases featuring homegrown Canadian talent alongside international acts equally eager to make their mark on the Great White North and the world. Also like its Texan younger brother, it also has a conference portion that will appeal to film, digital media and music fanatics and professionals in those businesses alike. Unlike SXSW, Canadian Music Week also runs in tandem with Canadian Comedy Fest, so I’m expecting to run into some funny folks while doing normal Canadian errands, like getting takeaway poutine. (In case you are not familiar with the Quebecois food phenomenon that has become the national dish of Canada, read more about its history here.)
There are plenty of amazing acts scheduled to perform in Toronto next week for music fans to sink their teeth into. Of the Canadian talent on show, sister pop act Tegan and Sara, Saskatoon rockers The Sheepdogs, pop star Lights and alt-country stars the Strumbellas are sure to show who’s boss in their home country. Alongside the Canadians near the top of the bill are Americans Eagles of Death Metal, X Ambassadors, Wild Nothing and ‘90s alt-rock heroes Collective Soul. The British are well represented too, with festival favourites Fat White Family, electro r&b artist NAO, rapper and grime artist Skepta and electronic producer Mura Masa. I would be humanly impossible to list all the artists playing at CMW 2016, so I invite to check out the artist list here.
Base-level wristbands for the evening music showcases are available at the price of CAD 75.00. These wristbands will give the purchaser access to all music showcases for the 7-day event, subject to venue capacity. Note: Most showcases and the venues participating are 19+ unless specifically marked as all ages. For CAD 150.00, you can upgrade to a VIP wristband, allowing the purchaser to choose guaranteed access to three shows of their choosing. Wristbands for Canadian Music Week can be purchased here. Tickets can also be purchased singly for the specific show / artist you want to see, if you’re less OCD than we are about music festivals (you know, hitting as many bands and acts we can before falling over into our dinner, exhausted). To purchase single event tickets, go here.
You can keep up with TGTF’s continuing coverage of Canadian Music Week 2016 through this link. See you in Toronto!
Header photo of The Magic Gang by Dan Kendall
If you didn’t already heed our warning that Handmade Festival this weekend in Leicester is the festival to be at this season then perhaps, just maybe, the below list of acts that you’re going to be missing out on will change your mind. And for those who will be joining us in during the weekend, take the below list as a starting point for your own weekend musical adventure, there’s plenty to not miss out on so let us give you a bit of guidance. (To read Steven’s earlier preview of Handmade, go here.)
Lacura – Academy 3, Friday 29th April, 17:00
Drops of psychedelia amongst massive indie sounds, Lacura are your perfect opener to the weekend. It’s a toss-up between Lacura or ESTRONS, and Lacura just pip it with their dreamscapes and ethereal feel.
The Magic Gang – Scholar Bar, Friday 29th April, 18:45
To continue your ease into the festival, The Magic Gang (pictured at top) will use their harmonious, ‘60s psych-pop style to command your elation and help you forget about that outside world. Friday afternoon’s never sounded so good. (For past coverage on The Magic Gang on TGTF, go here.)
Black Honey – Scholar Bar, Friday 29th April, 19:45
Black Honey are gaining a lot of momentum with their dreamy, shoe-gaze-esque rock and vocals that call to mind Lana Del Rey if she actually gave us what we wanted rather than slow tempoed ballads. (For past coverage on Black Honey on TGTF, go here.)
We Are Scientists – Academy 2, Friday 29th April, 22:00
As mentioned in our preview piece, the indie duo who are affable beyond belief are gracing our shores again in support of their fifth studio album. With a guaranteed good time to close out the first day of Handmade, to miss out on We Are Scientists would mean depriving yourself of laughs and such major tunes as ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’, ‘After Hours’ and new single ‘Buckle’ from brand new album ‘Helter Seltzer’. (For loads more coverage on We Are Scientists on TGTF, go here.)
Jurassic Pop – Scholar Bar, Saturday 30th April, 15:00
In case Jurassic Pop have slid under your radar, they are a band who write songs solely based around the Jurassic Park film series. Debut EP ‘Jurassic Park 4 1/2: The Erotic Adventures of Jeff Goldblum’ is filled with punk, indie and spoken word. If this alone isn’t enough to get you to see the band then nothing will.
OhBoy! – Scholar Bar, Saturday 31st April, 17:45.
This will be around the half way point of the festival, so chances are you’ll be a pleasant state of jubilation and will want to continue this. OhBoy! are you best bet here, with songs that are both ferocious and charming, they’ll certainly kick your Saturday evening off.
The Xcerts – Scholar Bar, Saturday 31st April, 21:15
Powerful pop songs that call to mind fellow Scotsmen Biffy Clyro at their lightest. The Xcerts have been around for 10+ years and over this time you’re guaranteed they’ve worked out a killer live set that will match the brawn of their sound. (For past coverage on The Xcerts on TGTF, go here.)
Johnny Lloyd – Academy 2, Sunday 1st May, 17:15
If you haven’t heard ‘Hello Death’, the debut single from ex-Tribes frontman Johnny Lloyd then you are missing out something extremely special. Heartfelt and solemn, it’s a thunderous track that is surely going to be a wonder to behold live.
USA Nails – Scholar Bar, Sunday 1st May, 19:45.
Harsh, abusive sounding punk that calls to mind Black Flag and Minor Threat, USA Nails are a safe bet to ensure you leave the festival with ringing ears and to get that final bit of energy out of your system.
Beans on Toast – Academy 2, Sunday 1st May, 22:00
Of course, the hardest question of any festival is who to see to on the closing night. With a couple of fine choices, Beans on Toast is potentially the perfect physical representation of that festival ideology, be it a metropolitan one like Handmade or Glastonbury. With songs filled with observation and thought that appeal to every straight minded one of us, when this is matched with the sing-a-long stylings, you have a guaranteed memorable closer and one that will stick with you on that tired, hungover train journey home. (For past coverage on Beans on Toast on TGTF, go here.)
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 25th April 2016 at 10:00 am
We did it last year, so we’re gonna do it again! It’s festival time – or at least festival preparation time! – and thanks for our friends at the event, we’ll be giving away a pair of weekend tickets to Lancs festival Beat-Herder 2016 this very week. Suffice to say, we’re super stoked!
Beat-Herder Festival, a festival set in Sawley, Lancashire, takes place this summer in the all too idyllic confines of Dockber Farm. In the past decade, they’ve brought all manners of electronic, reggae, drum ‘n’ bass, folk, psych rock and anything in between to their delighted punters, and in its 11th year in 2016, they are bringing a whole new raftload of acts to the farm for this summer’s event, to take place 15-17 July 2016. For starters, Primal Scream (pictured at top) will be headlining the festival; Bobby Gillespie and co. released ‘Chaosmosis’, their 11th album, in March.
Other big names appearing include Miike Snow (having released newest album ‘iii’ last month too), German house duo Booka Shade, reggae artist Chronixx and Zincfence Redemption and ’70s singer/songwriter / folk legend Donovan, who will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of his chart-busting single ‘Sunshine Superman’ this year. (Yeah, that makes me feel old…) Further down the bill, you will recognise Clean Cut Kid, Formation and Haelos from our coverage of SXSW 2016, as well as Beans on Toast and Mr Scruff from other past features.
We’ve been kindly given a pair of weekend and camping tickets to Beat-Herder, plus car and camper van parking privileges, an incredible value of £345 before handling fees if you bought your tickets today. So what are you waiting for? Follow our instructions below and fill out the entry form for your chance to win festival and camping tickets for you and a guest.
First, give us your full name and email address. Second, tell us which act on the line-up you’re most excited to see at Beat-Herder this summer, and why. (We want to be sure you’re keen enough on coming along that you’ve taken the time to study the line-up poster, of course.) I’ll read through all the entries and choose the best one. Easy, yeah? Just be sure your entry is in to us before noon BST Wednesday 27 April, as that’s when we’re closing the contest to new entries. I will contact the winner by email before the week is up (the winner will need to confirm his/her availability to attend). Good luck!
The contest is now closed, and the winner has been contacted.
Ah, sweet relief! Our coverage of SXSW 2016 is very nearly in the books here at TGTF. I’ve now attended the music festival for 3 consecutive years, and each year for me has ended in a combination of heady exhilaration and overwhelming exhaustion. Over the course of those 3 years, I’ve learned that creating a positive and memorable experience depends largely on your level of preparedness. Flexibility is the key to making the most of your time at SXSW, and a little bit of advance planning can make switching gears on a moment’s notice much easier to accomplish. With that in mind, I’ve put together the following SXSW survival kit, a list of items that any punter worth his or her salt will need to make it through the week.
Light jacket or sweater – The weather in Austin during SXSW-season is notoriously temperamental. It could be sunny and blazing hot one day, cool and rainy the next. It could even be both in one day, if you’re really lucky! One thing you definitely DON’T want to deal with is an umbrella. Bring a rain hat instead, and a plastic bag to stash it in if it gets wet. Dress in layers, and have a sweater or jacket handy for when afternoon fades into evening.
Comfortable shoes – Wear shoes you know to be comfortable for long days of intense walking. Again, keep an eye on the weather forecast and choose accordingly, especially if the prediction is for rain. Style is secondary; nothing will ruin your day faster than soggy socks, blisters or sore feet. If you insist on a certain degree of fashion (and I speak from painful experience here), you might want to carry a spare plaster or two, just in case your footwear plan goes awry.
Bag – You obviously don’t want to schlep a huge and heavy bag all over Austin, but you’ll need a good-sized tote or messenger bag to carry your personal items, as well as the odd items you’ll invariably find yourself collecting through the course of the day. Bring a sturdy bag that you can carry comfortably and that you don’t mind getting dirty. Be aware that some venues may have bag restrictions or need to search your bag on entry.
Sunglasses – Outdoor gigs and long walks between venues in the bright Texas sunshine necessitate a good pair of sunnies. Also, they work in a pinch to disguise the dark circles under your eyes after the previous night’s shenanigans.
Suncream – I can’t emphasise this one enough. If I had a dollar for every sunburnt British or Irish musician I’ve met at SXSW over the past 3 years, I could probably finance my trip to Austin for 2017. If you’re spending any time outdoors, you’ll want some SPF on any exposed body parts, especially if you’re fair-skinned. [I met a Scottish woman at SXSW 2015 who actually wanted to go home red as a lobster. Don’t be that person. Your body will thank you for it, especially when laying down to sleep at night, and painlessly. – Ed.]
Earplugs – It took some pretty steady convincing on Mary’s part to sell me on the need for earplugs. I normally hate wearing them, as they (obviously) dampen the sound of the music and make conversation generally difficult. However, by the end of a long day of showcases, your ears will undoubtedly be tired from the constant barrage of noise. Even if you plan on seeing only acoustic-style shows, many of the showcases feature a variety of genres, and you never know when your favourite folkie might be preceded or followed by a considerably louder act. Added bonus: I’ve had some great conversations with fellow punters at SXSW, but wearing earplugs is a great excuse for not conversing, if you so choose.
Smartphone – Absolutely indispensable. You’ll need it for keeping in touch with your friends and business contacts throughout the festival, as well as for any social media sharing you might want to do. You can access maps and directions if you’re not familiar with your surroundings, find RSVP information for unofficial parties and shows, as well as keeping up with the latest official schedule information on the SXSW App. Keep it in a safe place, like a buttoned pocket, where you can access it on the run if you need to.
Camera – This seems like a no-brainer, but have a separate camera ready for photo opportunities. Don’t depend on your smartphone for pictures! Taking photos will quickly eat up both the storage and the battery on your phone, especially if you’re live Tweeting or otherwise sharing events on social media. Also keep in mind that most of the venues, with the exception of outdoor day parties, are low-light settings, which are difficult to photograph without flash and nearly impossible with smartphone cameras. (Do I need to remind you to keep your flash turned off when photographing artists on stage?) I’ve found it convenient to wear a small camera bag with a neck strap during gigs, so that I can have my hands free between photo opportunities but still get to my camera quickly when I need it. [SXSW is also a prime opportunity to take photos with the future stars of tomorrow. Enjoy a band’s performance? Be respectful, don’t be pushy and let them pack up first, then say hi and express your appreciation. Remember, the majority are far from home, they’ve worked hard to get to Austin and they’ll appreciate your effort. – Ed.]
Spare batteries, chargers and cords – There are often charging stations set up at different locations around the downtown area, but you never know where you’ll be when one of your devices runs out of power. Plan to recharge everything overnight and make sure your devices are fully charged before you set out each day, but also have extra power sources at the ready whenever you can. Keep a second charged camera battery in your camera bag and carry a mophie (Mary’s preference) or other spare smartphone battery pack—mine saved me more than once near the end of a 12-hour (or longer!) day at SXSW 2016. Don’t forget the connection cables!
Energy bars or other snacks – The food options at SXSW are as many and widely varied as the music options, and showcases and parties often include free refreshments. But you might find that you’re so busy running between shows that you aren’t able to partake in the provisions as much as you’d like. Take every possible opportunity to sample the local fare, but also keep a protein bar or other handy snack in your bag in case you need a quick nibble to keep your energy level up. A bottle of water is also a nice idea, but keep in mind that many venues won’t let you bring it inside, so you’ll have to drink it before you go in.
Even with a handy list like the one above, it’s practically inevitable that you’ll forget something or encounter a circumstance you hadn’t predicted. The trick to surviving those moments, I’ve found, is keeping your head and maintaining your sense of humour. An awkward moment in the present will translate to an interesting story to tell later on! (Just ask Ciaran Lavery, who wins our ‘prize’ for ‘suffering’ the most unforgettable pre-show incident at SXSW 2016.) If you need a helping hand, don’t be afraid to interact with your fellow festival-goers. Almost everyone at SXSW is in the same situation—far from the comforts of home, operating on precious little sleep, and loving every minute of the chaos.
See ya next year, Austin!
I’ve always had a fondness for stories with tidy endings, so it seems quite natural that I finished SXSW 2016 on Saturday night at the British Music Embassy, even if Mary and I were a bit delayed in getting there. After our dinner hour activities at the Hilton Austin’s Liberty Tavern (which you can read about right back here), we stopped for a quick drink across the street from Latitude 30 before heading over for the NME / UK Trade and Investment showcase. As often happens with when I’m with Mary, we ended up engaged in a rather interesting conversation with some industry acquaintances of hers, and we had trouble tearing ourselves away for the final evening of live shows.
As much as we might have liked to stay and chat, Mary and I both had other activities planned for the evening, and we made our way to Latitude 30 just in time to catch the first act on the showcase, groove rock brother act Lusts. In the brief snippet of what I saw and heard, their music was an interesting combination of heavy rhythms and hazy vocals, but it was really their insistent and compelling energy that left the strongest opening impression.
The next act originally scheduled on the showcase was rap collective Section Boyz, but a last minute substitution gave us instead Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin. She facetiously introduced herself and her band as Section Boyz just to see if her audience were paying attention, but in truth, Jacklin’s warm folk rock couldn’t have been stylistically farther from the act she stepped in to replace. Jacklin’s music had more sonic impact than her diminutive appearance might suggest, and the lyrical substance of her track ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’ particularly tugged at my heartstrings after she shared that she had written it for her little brother because she wanted him to think she was cool. Those small personal details can make a song seem much more special to a listener, and Jacklin certainly won herself a new fan in me that night.
Following Julia Jacklin was self-described “industrial spiritual” band Pumarosa, who I’d seen previously on the Tuesday night showcase at Hype Hotel. They had the same lengthy setup issues here at the British Music Embassy, but once they got started, they fairly shook the stage with a much more confident sounding set than what I’d heard from them earlier in the week. The lighting at Latitude 30 allowed me to get a better photo of frontwoman Isabel Munoz-Newsome’s unusual guitar technique (which you can see below), and I was thrilled to have another go at dancing to Pumarosa’s exotic hit song ‘Priestess’.
Next on the bill was an artist I’d been looking forward to seeing since our initial preview of this showcase, rock singer/songwriter Barns Courtney (pictured at top). After seeing him blaze through a spectacular set including his currently released tracks ‘Fire’ and ‘Glitter and Gold’, as well as the curiously-titled ‘Hobo Rocket’, I’m more convinced than ever that he has the potential to be a breakout superstar on the order of James Bay or Hozier if he plays his cards right. In the intermission between sets, I snagged Courtney for a quick back alley interview, which turned out to be quite possibly the most unforgettable conversation I had all week long.
I came back inside just in time to catch dance pop duo Formation, whose number had apparently multiplied ahead of their appearance at SXSW. Comprising brothers Will and Matt Ritson along with Jonny Tams, Sasha Lewis and Kai Akinde-Hummel, the band and their equipment fit on the small British Music Embassy stage with very little room to spare. But despite the close quarters on stage, the band played a beat-driven, movement-inspiring set list much to the liking of the late night dancers in the crowd.
Formation were followed on the docket by another Special Guest, who hadn’t been officially announced before the show but was rumoured to be American veterans-turned-newcomers on the music scene, PARTYBABY. I’d seen PARTYBABY along with Pumarosa on the Tuesday night Hype Hotel showcase, and I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with the choice. PARTYBABY would certainly make an energetic closing act, I hadn’t found them engaging enough to stick around for twice. Fortunately, Mary arrived back at Latitude 30 just as they came on stage to set up, and we took the opportunity to make a final round of fond farewells to our friends at the British Music Embassy before officially bidding adieu to SXSW 2016.
Au revoir, Austin…until we meet again.
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