SXSW 2012: Day 2 – Scottish Music Industry Association showcase at Easy Tiger Patio – 14th March 2012

By on Monday, 26th March 2012 at 3:00 pm
 

With my previous music festival experiences, time proved to be my greatest enemy. At SXSW this year, I found a new foe: distance. While I’m a native Washingtonian and our town ranks in the top 10 of most walkable American cities, even I was flagging after day 2 in Austin. When you’re subsisting on less than 4 hours of sleep per night, dehydrated and hungry, all signs point to you not crossing the road to meet Adam (Duritz of Counting Crows, whose name was on a sign I spotted in the airport the afternoon I arrived but sadly did not accidentally run into at baggage claim). After a brief respite sat on Cashier No. 9’s guitar cases, sitting out in a fenced in section outside Tap Room at Six after the Northern Irish showcase there, my next stop was Easy Tiger Patio on the east side of town to catch the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) showcase. Predictably, the place was already near full and rammed with people of varying stages of inebriety. Wending my way through the crowd was about as simple as walking through quicksand; I’m also not a fan of people smoking during gigs and I guess because it really was a patio covered by a tarp, smokers thought it was still outdoors enough to light up. Ugh.

I could hear (and liked what I heard) but could not see Three Blind Wolves playing. By the time I got halfway up towards the front of the stage, their set was over and the sea of punters parted, many of them dashing over to meet the band off the side of the stage. Now’s the chance to get down the front for a band I was dying to see at SXSW and expect to also catch at the Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City this year, Django Django. I’m kind of embarrassed that I didn’t know they were Scottish until I saw them listed on this showcase’s line-up, but I should be forgiven, seeing that it’s not like their music is all about tartan flag waving? While they set up, they looked like four average blokes from anywhere. Three days later I saw them wearing football kit, leaning over bar tables and getting drunk during a Slow Club set. They looked like ordinary punters…

But then they changed into outfits that could make you believe they were male nurses from Planet Cheeto. How unusual! I hope I’m not the only person making note of their stage clothes: it reminds you just how unique Django Django are. They have this dance vibe that underlies some great harmonies and guitar riffs harkening back to the great California rock of the ‘60s and ‘70s (think the Byrds and the Eagles); the combination sounds unsettling on paper but somehow resolves into this extremely tight and fun unit live.

The atmosphere was amazing for ‘Skies Over Cairo’; I’m positive there’s never been such an enjoyable dance party in the Egyptian capital. Their set was unfortunately cut short due to a curfew, so shockingly they didn’t play ‘Default’ but they ended instead with ‘Wor’, complete with its warning sirens and surf-y guitar riffs not heard since the Surfaris (watch it below). YES. That’s it. I’m plastering myself on their appearances in Brighton and Liverpool in May.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nceKdyedEYw[/youtube]

So after the brill party atmosphere of the Djangos were the actual headliners of the Scottish showcase, We Were Promised Jetpacks, and I felt their set was a bit of a letdown. Don’t get me wrong, I thought they sounded great and the fans were certainly up for it, going completely manic for Adam Thompson’s impressive showing with the vocals for ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’. But they couldn’t elicit the same kind of energy Django Django could. Also detracting from the performance was a very pissed woman whose mates kept bumping into the new friends I made, not caring that they were being completely obnoxious. The woman was so drunk, she kept testing the invisible line separating stage and band from the crowd. At one point, she stepped onstage and her boyfriend was taking a photo of her “with” guitarist Michael Palmer, who was trying to do his job and play and really wasn’t having any of it, giving her bunny ears; later, he yelled at her to shut up and “back off”. Not wise to anger a Scotsman!

I’m sure you can tell from this portion of the review that I was really cheesed off by these few bad apples ruining the show; part of me wondered about the ambience at the Lionel Richie show at the Moody Theatre on the west side of town, where the Austin City Limits tv programme is filmed, taking place at that very moment and if I’d made the wrong choice. (Turns out Kenny Rogers showed up as a special guest. Humph…) But I’m glad I caught the Djangos when I did. Further, after the showcase was over, I went over to thank Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway (pictured above introducing the Jetpacks) for having a hand in putting the show together but was quickly steered clear that Stuart Thomas of the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) was really the man to thank.

Then, all of a sudden, Planet Cheeto’s drummer Dave Maclean of Django Django showed up and we were chatting away. In these electronic times, it’s all too common for bands, radio folks and bloggers never to meet in person even if they know of each other over the internet; as a blogger, it’s a rare treat to put names with faces and make new friends in places like SXSW. It’s moments like these when I really treasure and come to full realisation how lucky I am to be able to do what I do in my free timeVic and Stuart hoped I’d come out to their Discovering Scotland show, part of the British Music Embassy programming on Friday afternoon, and I promised I’d try my best. So after receiving Scottish hugs and thank yous all around, I went home to rest my weary head on my pillow, smile on my face. Tomorrow was another big day in Austin.

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[…] that totally went over my head, BBC Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway appeared (looking as jovial as the time I met him at SXSW 2012), then disappeared to let a rock band take the spotlight. I squinted. Wait a minute. These lads […]

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