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

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

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

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

Leyya Wednesday at SXSW 2018 2

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

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

The Homesick Wednesday at SXSW 2018 3

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

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

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

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

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #400: The Homesick

 
By on Wednesday, 14th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

I’m a suburban kid whose way of life has been less tied to what was going on in the big city a half an hour away (Washington, DC) than doing my own thing and being successful at it. There’s a special sense of pride when you can do it on your own. So it’s terrible inspiring to hear about a band coming from a tiny town none of us have ever heard of, whose music is strong enough to get noticed far outside of their little bubble. While the capital of Amsterdam is famous for its canals and pot-friendly culture, it’s a world away from Friesland in the north of the country, where agriculture is king. It was in the fortified town of Dokkum in this Dutch province where The Homesick were hatched.

Far away from the influence of any other scene, the alt-rock trio of Elias, Jaap and Erik have been free to craft their own sound and go their own way in the world of Dutch rock music. Their 2013 debut EP, the irreverently titled ‘Twst Yr Wrsts’, featured the surf rock-y ‘Boys’ and a song extolling the virtues of listening to Johnny Cash on a Friday night. Last year’s ‘Youth Hunt’, the Homesick’s debut album out now on Subroutine Records, is littered with catchy, yet oddly beguiling tunes bashed out on guitar and drums in a family garage. This is a sound powered by youthful exuberance, yes, but leave your misconceptions that age and talent are somehow connected at the door. There is nothing pedantic about their music.

The driving rhythm and unapologetic reverb of ‘The Best Thing About Being Young is Falling in Love With Jesus’ is a mesmerising blend of the kind of music the lads say they bonded over: Joy Division and shoegaze. If you’re wondering what’s up with The Homesick’s preoccupation with religion here and in single ‘St. Boniface’, the ancient area known as Frisia and its then-pagan people were repeatedly a target for conversion to Christianity by the Anglo-Saxon missionary. In the latter, the nod to their literal origins (and the pilgrims that find their way to Dokkum, for that matter) reminds us of where they come from (sweet, no?), while its punctuated beats and shouts rise above the haze of echoey guitars. ‘Gucci Gucci’ is even more fun, the bounce of the guitar notes sounding more at home on the Malibu coast than Friesland’s.

The Homesick have a command of what makes for a memorable pop song. But the young Dutch group are able to use this within the confines of a rock song, confines they’ve set to be relaxed enough to let them experiment with time signatures and tempo. They sound vaguely like bands you know and love, but they’ve have turned the familiar enough on its head to be fresh and interesting.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, The Homesick’s appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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