SXSW 2016: evening rain with Neon Gold and with Clash and PPL at the British Music Embassy (Friday night, part 1) – 18th March 2016

By on Friday, 8th April 2016 at 4:30 pm
 

At my first SX in 2012, the only things me and my British and Irish friends were fending off were minor: sweat and sunburns. Rain seems to have only been a recent pest to SXSW and Friday night, thunder and lightning again threatened SXSW 2016’s showcases. When Carrie and I set out for our evening plans, rain fell hard and lightning streaked through the sky. Not eager to put punters into danger, outdoor, open air venues like Stubb’s and the pop-up McDonald’s Loft on E. 3rd Street chose to temporarily close their spaces or cancel their shows altogether. I crossed out my previous plans to see Everything Everything and DMA’s (at Stubb’s) and Banners (at the McDonald’s Loft) once I learned from Twitter that the venues closed, then reopened to allow bands to only perform shortened sets.

I began my night at our ol’ standby, the British Music Embassy, where Clash Magazine and UK music rights and licensing agency PPL were hosting an evening showcase. Throwing Shade was the first act on their bill. London-based producer Nabihah Iqbal has her own show on NTS Radio every fortnight and puts on a hip-hop night with fellow Londoner Felicita. However, she’s also released plenty of her own music, her use of beats suggested by many to represent the next emerging wave of London electronic music.

Throwing Shade at the Clash and PPL showcase at the British Music Embassy, Friday at SXSW 2016

Prior to SXSW, her latest release the first week of March was the ‘House of Silk’ EP on Ninja Tune, filled with phat beats and glittery synths. Throwing Shade offers a unique perspective on life, too, because she has to be the only London producer (or one of the very few) with a master’s in philosophy. She chose to start with a spoken word piece with very little instrumental backing (that I could detect, anyway), essentially freestyling to begin her set before she truly got going. With my love of electronic, I expected to have loved Throwing Shades’ beats, but for some reason I wasn’t impressed. Perhaps we can blame the weather for keeping people set wherever they were until the storm blew over and that’s why the venue wasn’t full, but this kind of music feeds off of audience response and energy. I would imagine my feelings towards her music would have different if I’d seen her in London in a rammed venue full of her adoring fans.

Back out into the rain, my intention was to rejoin Carrie at Empire Control Room on E. 7th Street, where both the Control Room and main Empire Garage venues were to play host to two Neon Gold Records showcases. However, the Empire was another venue that wasn’t taking any chances with their visitors’ safety, herding everyone who had planned to see bands on the only partially covered Garage stage outside and forcing them inside. That meant that the Control Room reached maximum capacity before it should have, and those of us who were stuck outside were looking at an empty Garage stage until stage management decided it was safe enough for a band to take the stage.

After a significant delay, Brooklyn’s Savoir Adore took to the stage, with their updated lineup of Lauren Zettler having replaced Deirdre Muro on vocals and synths. After a period of darkness, the Garage stage’s light show was impressive but epileptic seizure-inducing, distracting me from Savoir Adore’s upbeat synthpop. However, they had plenty of fans down the front who were going mental over them, well pleased they’d finally been given the green light to start playing and reveling in the overenthusiastic light show. To each their own, I guess!

Savoir Adore at Neon Gold showcase at Empire Garage, Friday at SXSW 2016

We’d only previously been inside Empire Control Room during daylight hours, so I was eager to see how the vibe felt after the sun had set. Declan McKenna was the first name on the indoor bill, and I’ll Carrie tell you what she thought of him, as I’d seen him play already and to a room of new converts at Huw Stephens / PRS for Music showcase Tuesday night to officially begin the British Music Embassy’s week at SXSW 2016. He was followed by Will Joseph Cook, who Consequence of Sound calls an “English wunderkind”. The young Tunbridge Wells native and his band have a perfectly serviceable, if not entirely inspiring pop/rock hybrid sound that top 40 fans will bop their heads along to.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my Friday night soon on TGTF.

Will Joseph Cook at the Neon Gold showcase at Empire Control Room, Friday at SXSW 2016

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