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?

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr0_QsgR1Nc[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPf1jAgxTBo[/youtube]

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