SXSW 2016: most of the Clash and PPL showcase at the British Music Embassy (Friday night, part 2) – 18th March 2016

By on Friday, 8th April 2016 at 5:30 pm
 

Clash Magazine and UK music rights and licensing agency PPL‘s evening showcase Friday at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 was arguably the strongest night all week at SXSW 2016. Punters responded by packing the place full nearly every set on the night. To catch up on my earlier movements Friday evening, including some words on Throwing Shade’s performance to start this showcase, click here. For better photos of this showcase by my new friend Thomas Jackson, please visit Clash Magazine’s article on the night here.

After being at the Empire Garage and Control Room for three acts and heading back to Latitude 30, I caught the tail-end of Haelos’ set there, keen on finally figuring out the secret to their success during their week in Austin after seeing them in the sun at FLOODfest Wednesday. As I mentioned in my Friday afternoon review regarding Fickle Friends, there are way too many synth-led bands in Britain at the moment, which makes it all the more important to distinguish your band from the rest of the pack. I suppose here in a Passion Pit-less vacuum, British synthpop is all the more enticing. It also helps that Haelos has already received the backing of KEXP, recording a session with the forward-looking Seattle alternative radio station in January.

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

Watching them play to a packed-in British Music Embassy evening crowd – one of the very few times I witnessed this all week, which I thought was very strange – I think I may have cracked it. They do bring something different to the table, in that they’re not doing straight electropop, or electropop with a tinge of soul, for the kids. Mixing both options with a trip-hop element that formerly was the domain of acts like Massive Attack – generally only accepted by the dance kids – plus mixing male and female vocals, all these parts give their music product an undisputed edge. After giving the crowd 100%, the cheering at the end of their set was well deserved.

The next act, then, were presented with the major and dubious challenge of following such a triumphant set. I guess it’s a good thing they were YAK, as their psych / punk ethos don’t really give a monkey’s, and I think they would have completely went for it as they did, regardless of what band preceded them. Frontman Oli Burslem proved this by launching himself, guitar too, stage left into the crowd and entirely unexpectedly. This led to drink glasses falling and breaking and audience members falling down in a pile with him. Instead of being upset about it, punters ate it up, with those not involved in the pileup furiously snapping shots of the incident with their phones and high-fiving their friends that they were present for such an anarchic performance. Latitude 30 staff, quickly mopping and sweeping up glass in the aftermath, were likely not as impressed.

YAK at Clash and PPL showcase at British Music Embassy, Friday at SXSW 2016

The Revenge, Scottish producer Graeme Clark, was up next to ring in midnight at the Embassy. I never know what to expect when there’s an electronic producer set to perform at Latitude 30 because in general, turnout isn’t great. I guess that has to do with most fans of this kind of music having a certain (dare I say overly intelligent) mindset and a profound love for not just beats but all electronic machinations, including how they work and sound. Clark is one-half of 6th Borough Project with Edinburgh Craig Smith, and I hadn’t realised until the week of SXSW of Clark’s connection. Thank you muchly, Ed Macfarlane, for my entry into this world.

As The Revenge, he released debut album ‘Love That Will Not Die’ in 2015, full of bangers of varying intensity and tempo. Under the cover of darkness, he and live compadre Paul McGlashan huddled over a dizzying array of synths, sequencers, mixers and other things I don’t know the proper names for, but that doesn’t matter. Thudding vs. frenetic beats and the dance lover’s friend of bass wub wub wubs filled the room with a kind of sonic mastery I so infrequently get to enjoy. I could have been there, happily dancing for hours and not known where the time had gone.

But after a spine-tinglingly good set and a changeover, it was time for London’s Honne, who the Telegraph have dubbed “futuristic soul” and “destined to re-invent babymaking music”. Um, okay. Let’s just stick to the facts: singer Andy Clutterbuck is the unlikely English (and white) heir to the throne of Barry White, and his long-time mate James Hatcher on keys and guitar, along with their live band, provide the appropriately mystifyingly soulful soundtrack. ‘Warm on a Cold Night’, featured in my Bands to Watch feature on them in the summer of 2014, was sufficient proof early on that this project had plenty of potential.

Honne at Clash and PPL showcase at British Music Embassy, Friday at SXSW 2016

This potential was fully realised in front of a new and American crowd Friday night, as men and women alike yelled and wailed in their appreciation for the band, never letting up for the entirety of their set. I was pretty sure some ladies were going to faint when Andy announced they would playing their ode to the fairer sex in ‘Woman’. (Thanks to another crazy fan, I nearly lost my hearing the next night at Stubb’s watching them again, but I’ll tell you about that later.) They even got their friend JONES, who herself had performed on the Embassy the night before, to join in with them on the track ‘No Place Like Home’. When it came time for them to say goodbye with ‘All in the Value’, the crowd’s disappointment was loud and unanimous. Everyone wanted to meet the band after, irking the usually laissez-faire staff at Latitude 30, who had to kick us out of the place. Break America? Check.

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