SXSW 2014: the second half of Steve Lamacq’s BBC Introducing showcase at Latitude 30 – 13th March 2014

By on Tuesday, 25th March 2014 at 3:00 pm
 

A universal problem faced by all punters attending any festival are the dreaded schedule clashes that tear your insides apart. When I met Steve Lamacq Wednesday night at Parish Underground, he asked if I was going to be at his BBC Introducing night at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 on Thursday night. It was surely going to be a huge night for Lammo,as he had not put on a showcase at SXSW since 2008, when he brought a then unknown Florence and the Machine to Austin. I knew where my night was going to begin – we’d RSVPed to a Sofar Sounds: Austin secret show nearly 10 miles north out of town but knew nothing else – and I felt terrible telling him I could not be there for the start when THUMPERS were due on at 8. But I promised him I’d do my best to get there as quickly as I could once we were done with our previous engagement. And anyone who knows me well knows I will do everything in my power to keep a promise.

After the Sofar show, we drove back into town and I prayed to the parking karma gods that we would find a decent space not too far from all the downtown action. I guess they listened. As soon as we were parked, I left Carrie, who had a leisurely walk to Cheer Up Charlie’s, and practically sprinted all the way down to Latitude 30, going the long way round via Trinity and 5th Street to avoid the busiest section of 6th Street. (Yes, folks, after having done it 3 years running, SXSW does run like a military manoeuvre in my head.) I just missed the eccentric Cousin Marnie, who finished shortly before I arrived. But I was okay with that, because I was looking for someone else. Well, five other someone elses.

I don’t normally go up to people I don’t know and ask for help looking for someone else. But SXSW is a unique animal, am I right? And if you don’t ask, you don’t get. There were a couple of guys sat on the benches outside Latitude 30, and I went straight up to one of them and said, “excuse me, sorry to bother you, but I’m looking for the guys in Longfellow. Do you know where they are?”

He laughed. “I’m in Longfellow!”

Oops! Maybe it was divine intervention, but I found who I was looking for. One of Fierce Panda Records’ most recent acquisitions, Longfellow are a London band who everyone, including compere for the night Steve Lamacq, is expecting huge things from. As a fan of many of the bands on the Fierce Panda roster, when I received their first single ‘Siamese Lover’ in my email, I had to have a listen. I was instantly smitten. As the band were only playing this one BBC Introducing showcase and it was going to be their American premiere appearance, I knew I had to be there. I wished them good luck and we were going to catch up afterward, which we did for this post-gig interview in which they were humble, yet wide-eyed lads eager to start the next phase of their career.

I viewed their actual performance as a bit of a fairy tale, so I can only imagine how they must have felt. They don’t even have a debut album out yet, but Steve Lamacq took a chance on them and the other UK acts playing in the showcase that night. Because the BBC were both recording audio and video of the night, you can imagine the lighting was even more impeccable than on any of the other British Music Embassy nights. Nerves must have run rampant as this was the London band’s first experience with an American audience, but they played as if seasoned veterans as Austin – and later through BBC iPlayer – listened and watched on. In a particularly heartfelt moment, frontman Owen Lloyd – whose speaking voice some compare to Prince William’s – thanked the BBC and everyone who’d been supporting them up to this point, even going so far as to dedicate their next single ‘Hug – Kiss – Makeup’ . Bless. I’ve included the BBC’s professional video of the song below, because you’ll spy the camera of someone else who was videotaping the song as well. (Guess who.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3uZMNGw18M[/youtube]

There’s an anthemic quality to many of their songs, which explains why many people are already making their predictions that Longfellow is on track to become the next Coldplay. As the lights alternated from red to blue to purple from song to song, I couldn’t help thinking about that crazy wristband thing Chris Martin and co. did at stadium shows a couple years ago and wondered if this was a sign of things to come. However, the deepness and heightened emotions of Lloyd’s voice beats out Martin’s easily. ‘Waiting for Elvis’ was a highlight, as was an earlier song of theirs, ‘Gabrielle’, which will remind you of Chapel Club‘s debut album, except brighter when the song breaks open at the chorus. However, it was ‘Siamese Dream’ that swept me into a dancing mood, and I’m sure I amused more than a couple staring Americans.

That night, I also caught BBC Sound of 2014 nominees Royal Blood. But maybe ‘caught’ is the wrong word, as I could only stand four songs (I hung tight for behemoth ‘Little Monster’; see video below) before I had to give my ears a rest. I probably should have stood in the back instead of trying to be down the front in a desperate attempt to photograph Mike Kerr (vocals / bass) and Ben Thatcher (drums) but it was kind of pointless, because unlike Longfellow’s gorgeous multi-coloured light display, Royal Blood basically played in near darkness. Sorry John, I am sure you are disappointed, but I figured if I had stood there any longer, my ears would start bleeding.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ub6Q0DWg-g0[/youtube]

I met with Carrie later on, who was waiting for CYMBALS to bring the dance funk to the indoor stage at Cheer Up Charlie’s. But in a hilarious twist of fate, I accidentally got swept up in the wrong crowd, having been directed into the wrong queue and ended up knee deep with the photographers on a raised platform waiting for Future Islands on the outdoor stage instead. Seeing that the buzz surrounding Future Islands at this year’s SXSW was so massive, yet I didn’t bother to wait for them to start as I was concerned I’d be swallowed up by the crowd once they began playing, I beat a hasty retreat to be reunited with Carrie inside.

And if you were wondering about my keeping my promise to Lammo, I found him inside Latitude 30 before Longfellow took to the stage. I proudly showed him the photos I’d taken on my camera to show him why I wasn’t able to arrive to his showcase any earlier and who I’d gone to see. Upon seeing a band important to both of us, he smiled. When I told him that I was interviewing Longfellow after they played, he replied, “that’s great. They’ll be dead chuffed!” “Dead chuffed” is actually how I would describe myself upon meeting this band who I think has what it takes to be massive stars.

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[…] – is Lloyd’s voice, which is far richer and emotional than Martin’s. I had the good fortune having heard the band perform this song in their BBC Introducing set at SXSW 2014 last month, all under the kind auspices of one […]

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