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SXSW 2013: Final Impressions

 
By on Friday, 5th April 2013 at 1:00 pm
 

So after spending a full week in Austin for SXSW 2013, I thought it would be nice to do a summary post to reflect on the experience the second time around…

My SXSW by the numbers:
I saw 41 different bands/acts in total, some multiple times. The bands I saw the most were the Crookes and Kodaline, both 3 times.

I managed an average of 5 hours of sleep per night. Not really all that bad. I learned from last year to make sure I got as much rest as possible.

I saw shows at 8 venues that I’d not previously stepped foot in.

I rode a pedicab 3 times (versus zero times in 2012) and all the drivers were amazing. Note to all attendees: pay these people a little bit more – they’re hiking you up hills and over long distances while sweating their arses off in the Austin heat. A special mention goes out to Andrew who drove me all the way home Thursday night after I’d just about given up on finding a taxi and was ready to cry. He was a total sweetheart!

Unforgettable (good) moments of the week:
Learning that David Baldwin of the Dig is affectionately nicknamed “Baldy”, but it has nothing to do with the status of his hair follicles.

Accidentally running into Rhydian Dafydd of the Joy Formidable at a sushi bar and having lunch together to talk about the industry and such. I found out he’s a Dutch Uncles fan!

Finding out Adam Kane of Cave Painting and Dan Croll were schoolmates in this interview.

Jon McClure of Reverend and the Makers tried to hide his beer between his legs so the Austin police wouldn’t confiscate it during our interview Wednesday afternoon outside Latitude 30. Unfortunately, despite his great pains, it didn’t work.

Getting a genuine Stetson trilby gratis Thursday afternoon at Blackheart for knowing about British bands playing at SXSW. About time I got rewarded for all these random things I have in my brain…

Finding a kindred cider mate in Kris Harris of Story Books during our interview there.

Getting a ride back into the centre of town on the Joy Formidable‘s bus after watching them gig at the Fender stage and do an autograph session at Waterloo Records (photo at top).

Being recognised by Kodaline‘s tour manager at the Hype Hotel Thursday night before they played for the last time at SXSW. (Honourable mention: getting singled out and pointed by guitarist Lynval Golding of the Specials at the same showcase.)

Unforgettable (bad) moments of the week:
Being treated like cattle outside Stubb’s Tuesday night. I’m not likely to return.

Dropping my jumper by accident at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room Wednesday night after already resituating myself at its rooftop, then getting forced by security to go all the way up, down and around to retrieve it. Lucky I don’t have a walking impediment.

A crazy drunk bloke tried to pick me up on Cesar Chavez Street when I was trying to hail a taxi Thursday night. He said he was going to follow me home. I eventually somehow lost him when we ran into a group of people and I ran. It was terrifying at the time, but now I can laugh about it.

Getting pushed and shoved by kids at the HGTV / Paste showcase at the Stage on Sixth. We know you’re excited for the Zombies. But can you be a little less annoying?

Best quotes of the week:
“Thanks for interviewing us. You’re probably the prettiest person to ever interview us. We usually get interviewed by ugly dudes.” – Emile Mosseri of the Dig after this interview by the river outside Stubb’s. They said they want to start a new side project called “Poppa Squat”. I don’t know if they were joking.

“I like to confuse people!” – Tim Wheeler to me after his solo performance at Monday night’s NI@SXSW showcase (11th March 2013)

“It’s Dan from Bastille, everyone! Cheers mate for coming out.” – Steve Garrigan of Kodaline to Dan and the punters at Wednesday night’s Communion showcase at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop

“Ahh, I see you’ve met the infamous Mary!” – Angela Dorgan of Music from Ireland, warning Girls Names about me outside B.D. Riley’s on Friday morning after our interview (as if this editor needs to come with a warning!)

“We have a very serious question for you, Mary. Why isn’t Washington, DC in Washington state?” – Tom Dakin of the Crookes on behalf of his band, after they played their British Music Embassy / Kilimajaro / PRS for Music slot at Latitude 30 on Friday night (if you were wondering, I set them straight with a story that involved both coasts of our country and the relative locations of myself and my brother, though I’m not sure how well that will stick in their minds.)

“Mary, Mary. You’ve been disowned!” / “But…a 5-string. You can play Korn on that guitar!” – George Waite / Tom Dakin of the Crookes to me the same night, after, perhaps a little too proudly, I showed off a picture of my 5-string ESP. We did some rechristening of guitars in Austin and he’s still yet to provide me a new name for mine.

“Do you fancy a bit of pole dancing later, Kris?” – Andrew Parry of Story Books to bandmate Kris Harris, in reference to and gesturing to Kitty Clementine‘s writhing at the Captiva showcase Saturday afternoon

And with that…that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. See you next year, Austin!

 

SXSW 2013: Day 3 evening – a nice stay at the Hype Hotel, followed by a rave sponsored by new friends from Sheffield – 14th March 2013

 
By on Friday, 29th March 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

Today’s SXSW 2013 post has been written to remind everyone of the size and stature of the SXSW music festival. While in my 2 years of festivaling in Austin I’ve managed pretty well on a press wristband, not really ever been shut out of a showcase I was desperate to see because the place was at capacity, there comes a time (or times) in your SXSW life that you just decide you want to see a big name. But at the same time, I implore you to seek out the smaller shows too, because those might just change your life.

When Depeche Mode were announced to be celebrating the opening of a new, 900-capacity club in town, I knew as soon as I read those words, the faithful had already been queued up around the block and it was pointless to even contemplate the thought of trying to go. (Not is all lost: NPR has a complete transcript of the band’s interview with KCRW’s Jason Bentley here, if you fancy reading it.) Similar thoughts went through my mind about Vampire Weekend‘s closing out of the festival at Stubb’s; gunshy after Tuesday night’s tussle with security there and knowing the New Yorkers playing brand new songs would be a huge draw, I just thought…no, never mind.

As I had been recommended to see at least one band at Brighton Dome during the Great Escape last year (which didn’t happen…), I thought I should make it a point to see one big band. Thoughtful perusal of the SXSW music guide made this decision relatively easy: I decided on the Specials, who ironically will be touring widely in the UK when I am over in May, but don’t tour very often in America. They weren’t due to appear until 11, but with my wristband, I thought it was better to queue early, arriving a whole 2 hours before doors were set to open. A very nice Austinite named Pat saved my spot in the queue so I could get a Thai dinner in me so I wouldn’t faint from hunger later. Turns out there weren’t a huge number of badge holders who wanted in early on, so after about 100 passed into the place, we were let in.

Unlike last year’s Hype Hotel where I’d spied Oberhofer as my first SXSW band ever, the place that had oozed character with brick archways, this year’s at the Whitley was more warehouse-like and less warm. Whoever decided that this year the stage should be lowered to just an inch shorter than me should be sacked. Pretty disappointing in that regard. I don’t know, do they expect their punters to be that much taller? The stage was also far, far away from us, and it wasn’t like there were any higher-up balcony vantage points that would have made viewing any better. Free Taco Bell tacos and drinks flowed, but I was more keen on getting down the front to stake my spot.

Kodaline at Hype Hotel clapboard sm

While I was stood there waiting, I met a new friend from Toronto and tried to extol the virtues of Kodaline from my experiences seeing them twice the night before. (He has since written me and said he thought they were excellent. Yes. Job well done.) I also met a photographer for Getty Images, Andy Sheppard, who I would fortuitously run into later in the week. A delayed soundcheck and what I’m guessing was a delayed entrance time into the place for the bands themselves forced all three bands prior to the Specials to cut their sets short, and as you shall read, two took this in stride and the other, well…not so much. During the intervening time while waiting, we entertained ourselves with actual production props for the night, which was pretty cool.

Kodaline at Hype Hotel 1

Kodaline had the unenviable task of being first that evening, and I learned later that they were only in Austin for 2 days (read Wednesday night’s review for more explanation on this). Their tour manager, who was nervously puttering around the stage, stopped a moment in front of me, smiling broadly to shout to the band, “hey! The woman that came to see you twice last night is here!” That was pretty heartwarming to know I’d been remembered. While there weren’t a huge number of people who had shown up for them – remember, this is America, and they had never heard of Kodaline and probably not paid attention to the BBC Sound of 2013 like we have – I did get a sense that the four of them were overwhelmed by the size of the stage they had been asked to play.

Kodaline at Hype Hotel 2

Steve Garrigan nervously cracked jokes and I could hear myself saying “bless” to myself as they were obviously nervous. But as soon as the music started up, any delay or misgivings were soon forgotten. The sound I’d seen on the night previous that easily filled a club and a rooftop also proved to fill a much larger space with similar ease. They only got to play four songs and their stay was far too short, but ‘All I Want’ and ‘High Hopes’ soared in the surprisingly decent acoustics of the Hype Hotel. While I am sad I will miss their first visit to Washington DC in May, I have no doubt in my mind that they will use their support slot with the Airborne Toxic Event to make that name for themselves in America that I know will become huge.

Trails and Ways at Hype Hotel 1

My new Canadian friend came to the Hype Hotel that night to see Trails and Ways from Oakland, California. He explained to me that they incorporated Latin sounds with pop. Don’t know why, but the Oakland origin threw me; shouldn’t they have been from South America or something? (If you Google them, they are described as making bossa nova pop, and one of their songwriters KBB used to live in Brazil.) It all didn’t make sense in my head until they actually started playing.

Trails and Ways at Hype Hotel 2

Latin music has such a strong and beautiful reliance on percussion, and this band’s sparkling percussion with the ethereal harmonies of two boys and two girls were truly stunning. The thing though that stood out most for me during their set was their cover that KBB introduced as being from “one of the most gifted artists of our time, Miguel”. Groan. I can’t stand Miguel, but for Trails and Ways to have taken a Miguel song and make it palatable, that alone makes them stars in my book. If you like to hear them, you can get a free EP from the band from their official Web site.

Beach Fossils at Hype Hotel

The third band of the night was Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils, who endeared themselves (I guess?) to the audience as soon as frontman Dustin Payseur got fixated on thanking Taco Bell for “feeding the fucking beat!” Um…yeah. Compared to the two previous groups, Beach Fossils’ sound was decidedly edgier and punkier. Unfortunately for me, I’d lump them into the same lo-fi, laddish Peace / Palma Violets / Vaccines pile and they didn’t do a thing for me. Been there, heard that. Actually, heard that kind of sound far too much in England these days…

My opinion of them dropped further when later on how they ended their set. Evidently the band had not been told until it was far too late that their previously promised set of x songs had to be curtailed for the Specials coming on next. Payseur proceeded to throw a temper tantrum onstage, though it was unclear who exactly he was angry with: Taco Bell, the event organisers or the Specials themselves. It’s too bad because everyone I know who was at the Hype Hotel that night remembers the temper tantrum and how badly it reflected on them as performers, and not their performance.

The Specials at Hype Hotel 1

The Specials were, in a word, good. There was something about singer Terry Hall that put me off a little, but I’ve been told by others that “he’s always a little miserable” behind the microphone. Oh really. Maybe it is just his singing style, but I had envisioned this animated guy in the front. Singing has always come naturally to me and brings me a great source of joy, so to see someone who didn’t look 100% happy to be there was a little disappointing. Luckily, sound-wise they were on point.

I got chills hearing ‘A Message to You Rudy’ and ‘Too Much Too Young’ live for the first time. You don’t understand; up to this point I had been subsisting on live performances from Maida Vale via Steve Lamacq in December, for example. I explained to a couple people in Austin that when I went to uni, all the girls I knew either had posters of John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything, or one of the Specials. Did I ever think I would ever see the Specials gig in my lifetime? Honestly, no. This, too, is part of the SXSW magic: being in the same room with a band that has loomed so large, in near mythological proportions, in your past. I nearly had to pinch myself to remind myself what was going on before my very eyes was reality.

The Specials at Hype Hotel 2

And then there was guitarist Lynval Golding, who cracked me up nearly the entire time. In a dapper purple suit, he looked like the happiest guy on the planet, grinning constantly in my direction, and every time he mentioned “the younger crowd” who now come with their parents to see the Specials play, he kept pointing to me as an example of the younger crowd. You rock, dude. The crowd was rough and moshing but I was glad I was at the front, being able to hold on to the barrier. Hey, I survived.

Because the Specials and the whole night really went on far beyond when they were supposed to, I had to make a decision: do I call it an early night before 1 AM, or do I go see someone else? My energy was flagging – I guess the pad thai I’d eaten earlier was gone from my stomach – and I didn’t think my feet would get me the nearly 8 blocks up a hill to Hickory Street club. So I grabbed a pedicab to save my tootsies. Admittedly, it was a selfish move. But I didn’t feel like sleeping just yet. I had a date with and needed to save them for…a rave. Well, the closest thing you can find to a rave in Austin on a Thursday night. With some new friends from Sheffield.

Though it was never going to be the most highly attended show of SXSW 2013, Reverend and the Makers turned this 100 or so group of people (mostly men) in their own private party. The very energetic American bloke super dancer I’d seen yesterday afternoon at their British Music Embassy show was present as well, so I knew I was going to be in for a good time. I’m not sure what the Brit to American ratio was, but it didn’t really matter. Everyone was there to dance, and Jon McClure and company weren’t going to disappoint. I found Jon to be so incredibly nice and candid during my chat with him the day before, it seemed almost rude if I did not show up for their final official showcase at SXSW! (It also seemed awfully rude at the show to be photographing and not dance. This is why I don’t have any photos of my own from this event either.)

‘Shine the Light’, ‘Out of the Shadows’, ‘Bassline’: there are just so many corkers on their third album ‘@Reverend_Makers’ that has only just been released in America this month that I hope it’s just a matter of time that our country will take to them and their energetic set. I never would have taken McClure to be a wrestling fan, but his dedication of ‘The Wrestler’ to a fallen comrade of the sport was strangely sincere before the band laid into you with groovy beats.

Back to the audience though. An Englishwoman from an indie label amused me by continuing to drink, until she got to the point where she as walking into people in her drunken stupor and finally had to sit down next to a speaker and rest because she couldn’t speak. And she missed out on the best part of the night. During their closing number, McClure was pulling punters up on stage to dance with him, and he gestured that I should do them the honour. And I couldn’t very well say no, could I? I found out later that members of the Enemy had also turned up to Hickory Street and joined the party onstage; when else am I going to say I was dancing onstage with Reverend and the Makers and the Enemy? I was so high on life afterwards from the amazing set that I gave Jon’s wife Laura a hug, and she was beaming. When I was leaving, Jon gave me a quick peck on the cheek and said whenever I found myself in Sheffield, we all should have a drink.

There are a couple photos floating around on the internet of the mayhem (this is probably the best one) but all that’s important is I was there and I enjoyed myself immensely. Ha! It must have taken me 2 hours to get home because a pedicab driver finally took pity on me and drove me back to East Austin (Andrew, you’re a star!) but all I could think about was the amazing night I’d had. A little bit of Sheffield in Austin? Yup. And I couldn’t have been happier.

 

The Specials / May 2013 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 11th December 2012 at 9:00 am
 

2012 has been a quintessentially British year, so why let that stop in 2013? (If the world doesn’t end next week…) The Specials are doing 10 dates around Britain and are undoubtedly a band that must be seen before you snuff it.

With huge tunes like ‘Ghost Town’, ‘Too Much Too Young’ and ‘A Message for You Rudy’ (our editor’s favourite), this band always give an electric and exciting live show. Tickets are on sale now and priced at £35/each, except London, which is priced at £37.50/each.

Friday 10th May 2013 – Glasgow Barrowlands
Monday 13th May 2013 – Newcastle Arena
Wednesday 15th May 2013 – Manchester Apollo
Saturday 18th May 2013 – Liverpool Olympia
Sunday 19th May 2013 – Leicester De Montfort Hall
Tuesday 21st May 2013 – Birmingham Arena
Thursday 23rd May 2013 – Newport Centre
Saturday 25th May 2013 – Margate Winter Gardens
Sunday 26th May 2013 – Portsmouth Guildhall
Tuesday 28th May 2013 – London Brixton Academy

 

Preview: V Festival 2009

 
By on Wednesday, 18th March 2009 at 12:00 pm
 

Oasis (live, V Festival, credit)It’s undeniable that V Festival is a lot more commerical than other music festival’s across the country, and while the bash has certainly recieved the odd bit of criticism for it’s uber radio-friendly line up, the fest is no less fun in our eyes. Certainly – going by the awesome line-up, it’s unsurprising that the event managed to sell out in just two hours this year.

The summer bash – which is happening on Saturday 22nd to Sunday 23rd August – will be taking place across it’s two usual sites this ’09: Hylands Park, Chelmsford and Weston Park, Staffordshire.

Oasis (pictured right) and The Killers are the two big name headliners confirmed to be playing the festival’s top spot this year. Other major acts gracing the fest’s main stage (aptly titled ‘V Stage’) across the weekend include Razorlight, Snow Patrol, The Specials, Elbow, Biffy Clyro, Lily Allen, James, Seasick Steve and, intriguingly, Taylor Swift.

The smaller sized ‘4Music’ stage will also be featuring further super cool artists including Fatboy Slim, Pendulum, The Ting Tings, The Wombats, Keane, The Enemy, Katy Perry and Dizzee Rascal.

If nothing has still managed to catch your eye (or ear!), why not head over to ‘The Arena’ where you can check out a varied selection including MGMT, Lady GaGa, Happy Mondays, The Streets, Pete Doherty, and latest girl band sensation, British Sea PowerThe Saturdays.

If that’s still not enough, the festival has another 50 acts up its sleeve to announce in the coming few weeks. Exciting!

As I told you earlier, tickets for the Chelmsford leg have sadly sold out. There are still some available for the Staffordshire event, however. For more information regarding ticket outlets, check out V Festival’s website.

Top photo comes from stevec77’s flickr stream, and side photo from John Griffiths’ flickr stream under the Creative Commons License.

 
 
 

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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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