SXSW 2015: Dine Alone Records and Music from Ireland showcases – 18th March 2015

By on Thursday, 2nd April 2015 at 10:00 am
 

Wednesday night I made my way down to the Bungalow on Rainey Street for the Dine Alone Records 10th anniversary showcase, which was scheduled to feature two bands I’d previously covered for TGTF, The Dodos and Broncho, as well as Lieutenant, the new side project of Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel. I arrived at the Bungalow early enough to work out the logistics of my interview with The Dodos before heading out to the backyard stage area to catch the night’s opening act, Josh Haden’s jazz-tinged alt-rock band Spain.

I wasn’t familiar with Josh Haden or Spain before I saw them at the Bungalow, but a quick internet search reveals that their smooth, soulful sound is at least partially the result of Haden’s background in jazz; he is the son of well-known jazz bassist Charlie Haden. Josh Haden originally formed Spain in the early 1990s and revitalized it with new members in 2007. The band’s latest LP, ‘Sargent Place’ was released on Dine Alone back in November, and their set at the Dine Alone showcase included a fine performance of its lead single ‘The Fighter’, which you can stream below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/pPwjSmCq608[/youtube]

Vancouver indie pop band Yukon Blonde quickly changed the pace of the evening after Spain’s laid-back set. Their dance-friendly synth and guitar sounds drew a captivated audience under the tents at the Bungalow, almost making us forget that we were still in the middle of the week with their hook-heavy new single ‘Saturday Night’. Just after SXSW, Yukon Blonde hit the road in America and Canada for an opening slot with their Dine Alone labelmates Lieutenant; those shows continue into April.

Yukon Blonde’s energetic set paved the way for San Francisco-based duo The Dodos to take the stage. They clearly had a fair few fans in attendance at SXSW 2015, as the crowd packed in noticeably tighter during their brief soundcheck. After reviewing their latest LP ‘Individ’ and their show at Tucson’s Club Congress in February, I had already come to the conclusion that The Dodos are just one of those bands that you have to see live to get the full effect of their music.

I discussed that opinion briefly with band members Meric Long and Logan Kroeber in my interview with them before their set, but their spectacular performance on the night did more to solidify my estimation than any of their commentary. Knowing that The Dodos create a huge sound between the two of them, I started their set with earplugs firmly in place, but the sound quality and the crisp energy of their performance was so amazing that I ended up removing them just so that I could take it all in. The dance moves featured in The Dodos’ video for ‘Competition’ didn’t make it onto the stage here, but there was plenty of enthusiastic dancing in the crowd when Long and Kroeber played the song.

The Dodos at Dine Alone showcase SXSW 2015

Unfortunately, the crowd at the Bungalow thinned conspicuously after The Dodos finished, leaving only a sparse few fans to watch Lieutenant. Because the live iteration of Lieutenant features Foo Fighters bass player Nate Mendel and Snow Patrol bass player Paul Wilson (both on guitar, ironically enough), I had expected them to draw a larger audience. Lieutenant’s recent album release ‘If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going to Eat for a Week’ is probably best described as understated, and as it turns out, Mendel is an understated frontman in live performance as well. Wilson’s more animated guitar solos, while not exactly flashy, were the highlight of the band’s set at the Bungalow. I suspect that the members of Lieutenant will grow progressively more comfortable in their newly adopted roles as they continue their current American tour with Yukon Blonde.

Nate Mendel at Dine Alone showcase SXSW 2015           Paul Wilson at Dine Alone showcase SXSW 2015

My energy lagged a bit after Lieutenant’s set, and I decided a walk might be in order to help me get a second wind. I left the Bungalow and headed back to 6th Street to see Dine Alone alumnus James Vincent McMorrow, whose first self-titled EP was released in the US on Dine Alone back in 2010.  McMorrow was appearing on the Music from Ireland showcase at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room, which was already packed to the gills for his set when I arrived. (In fact, it was so crowded that I never met up with Mary, who also made the Music From Ireland show part of her Wednesday night lineup.) Though the Gibson Room audience were clearly enamored with the soulful melancholia of McMorrow’s ‘Post Tropical’ tracks, I found his falsetto to be unintelligible and a bit whiny, much in the vein of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, whose sound I have never been particularly fond of. In spite of that, McMorrow’s stage presence was shyly endearing and he did pique my interest by testing a couple of new tracks, which he said weren’t yet fully worked out, but which held their own here in acoustic performance.

Walking On Cars at Music From Ireland SXSW 2015

Once again, the audience almost completely vanished after McMorrow’s set, leaving Irish pop band Walking on Cars to play in a nearly empty room to close out the night. It was a pity too, because Walking on Cars play the kind of energetic pop music that could find itself comfortably situated on top 40 radio, given enough of an audience. Indeed, the band broke up their wee-hours-of-the-morning set with a mashup of pop tunes that included 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Lego House’, and James Bay’s current hit ‘Hold Back the River’, along with a surprisingly effective cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’.

Their own recent single ‘Always Be With You’, featured in our SXSW preview of artists from Ireland and Northern Ireland, closed the night on a strong note, even if only a handful of punters were still around to hear it. Keep an eye on TGTF for coverage of Walking on Cars at the full Irish breakfast appearing on TGTF soon.

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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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