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SXSW 2015: Paradigm Agency showcase at the Parish and Ben Sherman / UKTI showcase at Latitude 30 (Thursday night part 2) – 19th March 2015

 
By on Tuesday, 31st March 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

My Thursday evening review was getting too long, so I broke it up into two parts. To read part 1 of my Thursday evening, go here.

Then it was on to underground DJ / musician haven on Red River, Plush. It is the electronic music fan’s dream: an unpretentious room where you can be as close and practically personal near the guy (or gal) on the decks in the back if you want, but it’s small enough that the thudding beats and the smooth grooves ooze into every nook and cranny of the place, there’s no bad spot in the house. You couldn’t have asked for a better place for my first time to see Rival Consoles (Ryan L. West) perform. Dressed appropriately in a Moog t-shirt, West was ready to knock some socks off and blow some minds.


I would be hard pressed to adequately describe West’s set. Through bleeps, blips, thuds and buzzes (bleeps, blips and/or thuds stretched), Rival Consoles an immersive experience and one you have to be there to experience, and it changes every night because West wants it to be a dynamic experience and not one that is limited by what you hear on his records. I also want to point out that his music, at least what I witnessed at his two shows in Austin at Plush and at the British Music Embassy the next night, weren’t solely about building crescendos and big drops.

Rival Consoles at Plush, SXSW 2015

Certainly there were those moments. But the overall feeling I got was like being before a master craftsman making his art for us, fresh. This isn’t in your face electronica ala deadmau5 or Tiesto, nor is it electronica that is so smooth, you can pretty much guess what is coming next, or just be lulled into a sense of tedium. That’s what I liked about seeing Rival Consoles the most: I was excited about the unpredictable. (Listen to my great conversation with Ryan in Austin here.)

So it was with great disappointment I had to leave early to make my way to the Parish ahead of Pennsylvania lo-fi rockers The Districts‘ set at the Paradigm Agency showcase. I wasn’t taking any chances, knowing this place was going to be completely rammed later for them and the Vaccines who followed. Perth, Australia’s San Cisco, already a household name here in America, had no trouble assembling a packed room, with plenty of punters either going wild for the young indie pop band’s music or at least bopping their heads approvingly from side to side. ‘Fred Astaire’, whose video was nominated for a 2013 ARIA (the Aussie equivalent to a BRIT award), ended their set on a schmaltzy note.

San Cisco at SXSW 2015

Most American bands I know of dress exactly like this – t-shirts, denim jeans, trainers – regardless of the style of their music, but in the case of the Districts, they’re the kind of band where the dress actually makes sense, because with the growly, fuzzy rock they make, you expect they must have just rolled out of a parent’s garage earlier in the day. While ‘Suburban Smell’ is a stripped back, not completely fond ode to the cookie cutter town from where they grew up, it still bears the scuzz of their sound that’s as unkempt as frontman Rob Grote’s hair. This is the appeal of their album released last month on Fat Possum Records, ‘A Flourish and a Spoil’: unpretentious, rough around the edges rock ‘n’ roll.

The Districts at SXSW 2015

The irreverence of ‘Peaches’ “in the Vatican / and oh I don’t want to hear about the bird on the hill” with its droney guitars, the oozy, woozy rhythm of ‘Young Blood’ the “need for a little romance”; the desperation of Grote’s yelps in ‘Chlorine’, with its punishing drums and oddly comforting, homey guitar bridge: it was all better than I ever could have expected. They came to DC a week later but I dared not see them again, since I’ll have this snapshot in my mind of seeing them in Austin, down the front at the Parish, as they bashed away at their kit with reckless abandon. I’ll always remember this night.


From that high, I suppose there was nowhere to go but down. Already excited about having seen the Districts, I was keen to get an equally awesome dose of the Vaccines. The Districts finished roughly at 11:40 PM, which should have given the Vaccines an ample 20 minutes to set up their gear, which included what seemed like overly lengthy guitar and drum kit soundchecks. As I waited, real estate down the front became more precious, as I felt the air being squeezed out of my lungs. For a small girl as myself, it’s not a comfortable situation to be wedged in between two larger, taller people, even if they are girls.


I gave the Vaccines another 11 minutes to sort themselves out before I was over them, extricating myself from the Parish crowd before sprinting down 6th and rounding the corner back to Latitude 30. If I wasn’t going to get my fill of ‘Handsome’ tonight, I was going to get the next best thing, seeing one of my guitar gods Carl Barat with his band The Jackals, who I assumed I’d miss entirely in Austin and this year, as it had been announced the previous week that their American tour had been cancelled. That was probably one of the best split-second decisions I made all week.

I got down the front of Latitude 30 right in the midst of the band playing a song whose words floated down my tongue with ease (“monkey asked the mouse before / if she could love anybody more than he…”); it wasn’t until I came to the next morning talking to Carrie, who had seen them Wednesday afternoon at the Floodfest showcase at Cedar Street Courtyard, that I realised it was the Libertines’ classic ‘Death on the Stairs’. It was such a long time ago…yet it’s still so great.

Carl Barat and the Jackals at British Music Embassy, Ben Sherman UKTI showcase at SXSW 2015

Though I must have arrived after they played most recent single ‘A Storm is Coming’, Carl and co. treated us to several songs from their debut album on Cooking Vinyl, ‘Let It Reign’, such as ‘War of the Roses’, the jaunty ‘Glory Days’ (to which the whole crowd seemed to be snarling the words back at Barat) and more melancholy LP closer ‘Let It Rain’. Ben Sherman and UKTI, you did good booking this band and the next.

So then it was left to the next band to end my night on a high note. Although I’ve caught them live in Newcastle (May 2013), DC (March 2014), and the night previous in Austin, this would be the first time for me to see Public Service Broadcasting at the British Music Embassy and in their wide screen, multimedia splendour. For anyone who hasn’t been to SXSW before, I really must explain that seeing a band at Latitude 30 is a treat: the sound system is usually (99%) on point and the lighting is usually fantastic too(read: you can see everyone on stage!), which means you have pretty much the optimal environment to see your favourite British band.

Public Service Broadcasting at British Music Embassy, Ben Sherman UKTI showcase at SXSW 2015

And you can’t get anymore British than Public Service Broadcasting, can you? After witnessing cuts from the new ‘The Race for Space’ album the night before, tonight I could take a couple of snaps, then just get into their music for the fun of it. With its doom and gloom sounds of air raid sirens and Churchill samples, ‘London Can Take It’ shouldn’t be such a joyous occasion, should it? It probably sounds strange coming from a Yank, but I think given the emotional context, understanding that Britain is still standing how many decades after the Blitz, we (meaning the human race, not just Britons) can look back on those times with respect and admiration because we’re still here generations later.

It’s not that PSB is necessarily glorifying war; they’re giving praise where praise is due, to the people who came before who allow us to be who we are today or, in the case of ‘Everest’ for one, showed us that we as humans could go beyond what we had thought were our mortal limitations. In that regard, ‘The Race for Space’ is similar. This is music for the thinking person. And if we can funk out to ‘Gagarin’ while celebrating the first man in space too, why not? Oh SXSW 2015, you were wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.


 

SXSW 2015: visiting bands around the world before returning to Britannia (Thursday night part 1) – 19th March 2015

 
By on Tuesday, 31st March 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

The first must-see act on Thursday night of my dogeared and beaten up paper schedule for SXSW 2015 didn’t go on until 9:30 PM, which let Carrie and me have an actual sit-down dinner at one of our favourites, Crave, before going back out to see bands again. In a span of an hour, I had tasters (some good, some so-so) from Canada, Brazil, America and France before going forward with my previous plan. Something else funny: on my way to my first band of the night, I spied a famous quiff-cum-mohawk that couldn’t belong to anyone but Daniel Heptinstall of Skinny Lister. “Skinny Lister!”, I shouted. That’s the sort of thing that happens at SXSW: you’ll be walking down the street, minding your own business, and then you’ll run smack dab into someone (or several someones) famous. But I had to run. I’ll have to drink from their flagon of rum another time.

Canada: friends during our time in Austin and on Facebook had recommended a Montreal girl duo named Milk & Bone, which I decided to give a shot at the M for Montreal show at Sledge Hammer. They were running terribly behind schedule and it was unclear if it was an issue with the sound system, the duo’s own equipment or even a delay from the first band having trouble getting started, but a famous friend with me that night said this sort of thing never happens at Reading and Leeds because the stage manager makes sure bands start on time.

Milk & Bone at SXSW 2015

Finally, the ladies were ready to roll. I think when you’re doing pop, especially with the ever ubiquitious synth, you need to set yourself apart from everyone else, and that’s especially true in female vocal-led dream pop, an already crowded field with fellow Canadians Purity Ring, The Hundred and the Hands, Beach House and acts of similar ilk. My impression? Milk & Bone are a downbeat CHVRCHES in monochrome. Not my thing, thank you. Next!

Brazil: The Autoramas from Rio de Janeiro have been going since 1997, so we’re talking nearly 2 decades in the business with no signs of slowing down. The way they were working the crowd at B.D. Riley’s, punters stood up and cheering, I’d say they make a good living from their keep. They blend no nonsense punk and garage rock into a winning formula. In the moment, I kind of wished I knew Portuguese. One wonders though how much bigger they might be if they had a couple of songs in English?

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America: When in doubt in Austin (well, if you like electronic music like me), follow the big beats into a grimy basement, and you can’t go wrong. If I didn’t have a full evening lined up already, I might have been quite happy staying at Barcelona all night, giving myself to the beats and scratches of the DJs for the evening. I only stayed long enough to hear San Francisco DJ Landau do his thing. (I can’t find anything on this guy, and at the moment I’m assuming he’s one of the head honchos of Surefire Agency, who put on this night. ) I noticed nothing exemplary about his style but there were plenty of punters cutting a rug, drink in hand, having a good time and being good to one another, and we need more of that in Austin. Good stuff.

France: Opening your SXSW 2015 band pocket guide and choosing a showcase to visit without any sort of idea of what you want to see is pretty much like throwing a dart on a map. So I went with the most ridiculous sounding venue on the list: the Vulcan Gas Company. According to Wikipedia, it was once the place to see psychedelic bands in Austin back in the ’60s, which is pretty cool to begin with. But as I walked through its doors, you could immediately tell the place had gotten a major facelift, as it’s now a handsome dance club, complete with a sign welcoming you in that’s literally in flames. What a different vibe than Barcelona. You’re beautiful, Vulcan Gas Company. Live long and prosper.

Dream Koala at SXSW 2015

I stopped in just in time for Dream Koala, French teenager Yndi Ferreira and his dreads, who was playing the Kitsune party there. Up to that point, despite my support of many Kitsune compilation albums and Kitsune-related artists (Delphic, Is Tropical, Juveniles, Owlle, Two Door Cinema Club) who have gone on to bigger things, I’d never been to an actual Maison Kitsune-sponsored show, so it was nice to have things come round full circle. As you might expect from his act name, Dream Koala’s music is sleepy, atmospheric pop, yet with some interesting things on guitar and dreamy falsetto vocals to give an overall feeling of cool. This isn’t normally the kind of thing I like, but even to a small crowd, it was evident Ferreira was killing it, consumed by the music and letting it take him where he needed to go. I’ve read he showcased at last year’s CMJ but I’m wondering why we hadn’t heard of him! You’d think this is exactly the kind of man fans of the xx would be eating up.

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Live Gig Video: Stealing Sheep perform album title track ‘Not Real’ at Vessel studio in Liverpool

 
By on Monday, 30th March 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Liverpool’s Stealing Sheep have revealed a new live video, filmed in their hometown’s Vessel studio. It’s of them performing ‘Not Real’, the title track to their next album out the 13th of April on Heavenly Recordings. We Liverpool Sound City 2015 at the end of May. Watch the performance below.

Past coverage of Stealing Sheep on TGTF is this way.

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SXSW 2015: BBC barbecue with friends, with no fear of missing out – 19th March 2015

 
By on Monday, 30th March 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

One thing everyone learns at SXSW – and hopefully sooner than later – is to not sweat it when plan A doesn’t work out and you have to go to plan B, or even plan C or D. It is an inevitable fact of a city festival and the size of their smaller hole in the wall type venues (whether you’re in Austin or Brighton for the Great Escape) that if where you want to go is one of the hottest tickets in town, you’ll likely be disappointed. But during SXSW, there is always tonnes more things to do and bands to see, and the beauty of such a large event is that you might just happen upon something brilliant you’d otherwise never have crossed your mind.

The announcement that Danish band Mew were going to play only three shows in Austin seemed to be broadcast on all the music Web sites and blogs ahead of SXSW 2015, and I can’t say that I really was bothered about seeing them. However, as a music editor, it’s sometimes your duty to seek out what the people want to read about, so I had them scribbled down on my Thursday afternoon schedule as part of the Under the Radar magazine showcase at Flamingo Cantina. Wednesday afternoon I chatted with Will Doyle (East India Youth) about the Under the Radar show, as he was playing directly before Mew and headliner Of Montreal; he was quite pleased to be playing the showcase, as it meant he had an automatic in to the event. Curious, we looked up the capacity of the place on my phone, staring at the number with a mixture of marvel and horror: 299. Eep.

Considering how massively hyped the elusive Mew had been even before anyone made it out to Austin, I figured I’d probably be queueing outside all afternoon with no joy, so I decided to give it a pass. Later that night, I ran into a close Glaswegian industry friend (a much bigger, taller person who can hold his own more than I can, I might add) who said he’d made it into the showcase but stayed only for 5 minutes because there were too many people inside the club and he had struggled to breathe. I understand event organisers want to hype things up and purposely cause queues to form via FOMO, but it sounds like this particular event may have been violating safety codes and I count my lucky stars I didn’t even try to get into it Our friend Larry Heath, Editor-in-Chief of The AU Review, got into Mew’s third show on Saturday afternoon as part of the Brooklyn Vegan day party, and you can read his thoughts on them here.

But no tears were shed by this editor. I’d been blessed with an invite to the BBC barbecue that afternoon at Old School Bar and Grill, which had some lovely surprise live and acoustic special guests. Due to a mishap with the #17 bus, I arrived too late to catch first act James Vincent McMorrow, who appeared Wednesday night at the Music from Ireland showcase at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room (I reviewed that showcase here). Apparently Catfish and the Bottlemen were also due to appear on the afternoon’s bill, but they were nowhere to be seen. Another surprise for me was the sense James ‘Chaos and the Calm’ Bay was following me around, as the man and his now famous hat were seen going back and forth across the floor. I think he liked the food?

Frank Turner at BBC Barbecue, SXSW 2015

Between dining on the complimentary barbecue from venerated Texas meat institution the Salt Lick (which was delicious, thank you BBC and Salt Lick!), I watched amazing sets from now hugely popular singer/songwriter Frank Turner and the soft-spoken young Derry talent SOAK (Bridie Monds-Watson). Turner, who was bouncing from venue to venue all week and seemed to be in his element in this town, explained he was road-testing new material at SXSW and was playing different sets at every show in Austin; I’m sure this revelation delighted fans I met who were following him around all week. From the new song that he introduced with “this is about losing at tennis…again” (‘Love Forty Down’) to his raucous, yet loving tribute to his nan (‘Peggy Sang the Blues’), Turner proved why he’s become such a popular live draw both here in America and in Europe. Carrie interviewed Frank Friday morning in Austin, and her interview will be posted soon here on TGTF.

SOAK, the surprise guest at Monday night’s Creative Belfast showcase at Latitude 30, also captivated punters this afternoon with her gentle yet emotional voice, framed by her acoustic guitar playing. You wouldn’t expect something as placid coming from someone dressed like a skater, but somehow…it works. She now has a deal with Rough Trade, so I know Beggars will certainly help spread her music far and wide.

SOAK at BBC Barbecue, SXSW 2015

I met the lovely Bridie briefly late one night at the British Music Embassy, just as she was thanking Steve Lamacq for all his and BBC Introducing’s support. It was a sweet yet important reminder of how vital these mutualistic relationships and respect are key to our promoting deserving young artists and giving them the help and attention they deserve. Later on, I also helped facilitate the recording of a live BBC 6music session by my friends the Lost Brothers, who appeared on Steve’s radio programme. I take great personal pride in my part of the process, and I think everyone who is anyone in the industry who comes out to a massive event like this at SXSW with the purpose to help support bands should pat themselves on the back!

 

SXSW 2015: Transgressive Records Showcase – 17th March 2015

 
By on Monday, 30th March 2015 at 10:00 am
 

On the first official night of the SXSW 2015 Music festival, I attended the Transgressive Records 10th anniversary showcase at Buffalo Billiards in downtown Austin. I had never been inside Buffalo Billiards before, after a failed attempt to get in for a show during last year’s festival, and I didn’t realize how large the venue was. It has a downstairs bar area, the main stage area upstairs, and a mid-level landing between the two. It was nice not being rammed into a tiny club for what was sure to be a popular show with Spring King, Gengahr, Songhoy Blues and Dry the River on the scheduled lineup.

However, the spaciousness of the venue did present a slight problem for me as I attempted to meet up with members of Gengahr and Dry the River for interviews we had previously scheduled via e-mail and text. As we had never met in person, it proved a bit tricky for us all to actually find one another in the club and then find a quiet place to sit down for a chat. In the end, both interviews were accomplished between stage sets, and I was able to listen to all four bands as well. But the interview meet-ups turned out to be the least of what would be a series of technical difficulties surrounding my experience at the Transgressive Records showcase.

First on the docket for the show was Manchester garage rock quartet Spring King, whose lead singer Tarek Musa is also their drummer, so I’m not sure if it’s entirely appropriate to refer to him as the band’s frontman. I’m even less sure about the phrase “garage rock” after reading on the Transgressive Records Web site that the band’s first EP ‘Demons’ was recorded not in a garage, but in a converted bathroom. While Spring King definitely have a grungy, lo-fi quality to their sound, they also have a strong sense of propulsive momentum and energy.

Even from his position in the center back of the stage, Musa engaged easily with the audience, and Spring King played a tight and enthusiastic set to start the showcase. ‘Better Man’ from the ‘Demons’ EP was particularly well-received, as was recent single ‘City’, which will be released on the band’s new EP ‘They’re Coming After You’, due out in the UK on the 20th of April. (You can watch the live video of Spring King playing ‘City’ at the BBC Introducing night Wednesday on editor Mary’s review of that showcase here.)

Spring King at Transgressive showcase 17 March 2015

Following Spring King were the heavily-hyped indie rock band Gengahr, whom I’d had the opportunity to talk with before the start of the showcase. Their soft-spoken demeanor in the interview turned out to be very much in tune with the vibe of their performance on the night, which came across as quite introverted and understated after Spring King’s lively set. Gengahr’s atmospheric psych pop might not have been the best fit for the mood of this particular room, but their set was politely received by the crowd of people filtering in and out of the stage area. The performance included three songs from ‘She’s a Witch’, Gengahr’s current American EP release (the tracks have been released as singles in the UK), including the title track seen in the video below.

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After Gengahr finished their set, I ducked out again to talk with members of Dry the River, who were due to play last on the lineup. I came back just in time to catch Malian breakout band Songhoy Blues, who released their album ‘Music in Exile’ back in February on Transgressive. The stage area, which had seemed fairly spacious up to this point, was positively rammed with punters who were eager to see the hotly-tipped world musicians, and Songhoy Blues didn’t disappoint. They played an exuberant set for their SXSW debut, their songs blending blues rock instrumentation with traditional Malian rhythm and vocals as lead singer Aliou Toure (pictured in the header photo above) entranced the crowd with his genial smile and commanding stage presence. Take a listen to their track ‘Al Hassidi Terei’, streaming just below.

As the audience collectively took a moment to catch its breath after Songhoy Blues’ incredible performance, things began to unravel a bit for London folk-rock band Dry the River. They began their stage set up and soundcheck, only to discover just before they were about to start that something was seriously awry with the sound equipment. I never found out exactly what the problem was, but in the end Dry the River weren’t able to play their full set. They did agree to do a few tunes in unplugged fashion instead, moving from the stage onto the mid-level landing and actually starting to play before being interrupted by a Buffalo Billiards staff member who told them they couldn’t have the audience gathered there due to fire code restrictions.

They moved once again to the back corner of the main venue, their audience obediently trailing behind, and struck a position atop their large gear boxes to begin the impromptu acoustic set. While Dry the River’s folk-tinged rock and three-part vocal harmonies translate beautifully to acoustic performance, their disappointment in not being able to play a full stage set was very much evident as frontman Peter Liddle, guitarist Matthew Taylor and bassist Scott Miller somewhat reluctantly obliged us with four quick songs before heading back to the stage to help drummer Jon Warren pack up their unused gear. Before I left the venue I said a quick good-bye to Miller, whom I’d met earlier in the evening, assuring him that I would catch them later in the week when they were scheduled to play at the British Music Embassy. If you’re interested in Dry the River, be sure to check back here later this week for my Thursday night coverage, which will include that more successful performance.

Despite the evening’s difficulties, the Transgressive showcase left me with an impression of four up-and-coming bands who are clearly headed for success in the near future. We’ll almost certainly be hearing more from them here at TGTF as the summer festival season approaches, so be sure to check back with us for further release information and live dates, as well as our interviews with Gengahr and Dry the River.

 

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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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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