SXSW 2017: A relaxing Saturday afternoon at El Sapo with Music for Listeners – 18th March 2017

By on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

The Saturday afternoon of SXSW 2017 was brimming with sunshine and cool breeze, a perfect cocktail for outdoor activity. I took the opportunity to break away from the buzz of downtown Austin and head to local favourite burger joint El Sapo for the final day of the Music for Listeners showcases, hosted by our friends Michael Thomas and Orlando Torres. As usual, they had a great list of artists scheduled to play, including bands from the UK and around the world.

"SWIM

The first act on Saturday’s lineup was also the first ever Greek band to play on the Music for Listeners showcase, electronic trio Someone Who Isn’t Me. This all-female trio caught my attention instantly with their sleek combination of vocals, synths, and guitar sounds, melded into a fascinating art-pop aesthetic. I caught the three band members, Marilena Orfanou, Maria Hatzakou and Gina Dimakopoulou, after their set for a quick interview, where I learned more about the band’s unique origins and their post-SXSW plans. Take a listen to their dramatic instrumental track ‘Never Find It’ just below.

"JOB

Northern Irish alt-rocker Jealous of the Birds played a spirited full band set at El Sapo on the Saturday, including popular songs from her debut album ‘Palma Violets’ as well as a nifty cover of Foster the People’s 2011 megahit ‘Pumped Up Kicks’. TGTF covered Jealous of the Birds briefly at SXSW 2016 and more extensively at SXSW 2017; you can read all our past writing on her right back here.

"Be

I didn’t know what to expect from Scottish alt-pop trio Be Charlotte, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard on Saturday afternoon. Their teenaged frontwoman Charlotte Brimner might look cutesy on first glance, but her soft vocals are cut with hard-edged synth arrangements and precise dance rhythms. Amazingly, despite her relative youth, this wasn’t Brimner’s first time at SXSW; she took part in an Interactive panel session called ‘Making Music Physical Again’ back in 2015. Be Charlotte’s intensely groovy human analogy ’Machines that Breathe’ was a highlight of the afternoon.

"COF

Welsh band Chain of Flowers took a bit of a moody turn as we moved into late afternoon, but perhaps that’s to be expected from a band who shares its name with a song by The Cure. The similarity doesn’t end with the moniker, though Chain of Flowers have a murkier, thicker-textured darkness to their sonic quality, and frontman Josh Smith’s vocals convey more raw torture than sullen detachment. The band played a mix of new songs and tracks from their 2015 self-titled debut album, and it seems apropros, given their massive and heavy sound, that one of their newer tracks is titled ‘The Wall’.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/SJL4sORTW9E[/youtube]

Mary had seen Chain of Flowers Thursday afternoon at the British Music Embassy as part of a rock showcase there, but they were new to me, so I stopped their guitarist, Ross Jones, for a quick chat after the set. He told me that the band are currently promoting the re-pressed version of their debut album, after a less-than-satisfactory record label experience with its original release. However, he emphasised that they do have new material ready and waiting, with a potential single release this spring and a full LP to follow. In the meantime, Chain of Flowers are scheduled to play a run of live dates in England starting next week. (You can find the details here.)

"Catholic

While I was talking with Jones, the growing crowd at El Sapo congregated in front of the stage area for Scottish rock band Catholic Action. Formed as a spin-off of sorts from SXSW 2014 showcasing band Casual Sex, Catholic Action have quickly come into their own with singles ‘L.U.V.’ and ‘Rita Ora’. Their pop-tinged brand of rock was much more immediately accessible than Chain of Flowers’ wall of sound, and they quickly had punters’ feet tapping and heads bopping along to songs like their latest single ‘Doing Well’. Mary caught the group twice Friday night, first at the Glasgow Buckaroo at the Mohawk, then at the British Music Embassy at the BBC Introducing showcase.

 

"Juanita

The afternoon was slowly fading into evening by this point, and I decided to stay at El Sapo to see one final artist, Australian singer/songwriter Juanita Stein. Stein is already well known as the lead singer for London-based indie rock band Howling Bells, and she did play one song from that part of her repertoire, along with covers from Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison that give some indication of her solo style. Indeed, her recent single ‘Shimmering’ has more than a hint of Orbison’s dark bluesy-rock vibe, though she didn’t play enough of her solo tracks for me to get a good idea. Stein’s solo album ‘America’ is due out later this year, so if you’re curious, be on the lookout. Juanita Stein also performed as part of Sounds Australia’s Sound Gallery I Tuesday afternoon at B.D. Riley’s; read Mary’s review of her performance through here.

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

The stellar lineup of acts at the Music for Listeners day parties are always a treat, especially for those of us who love UK artists, and this year was no exception. Special thanks to Michael, Orlando and everyone at El Sapo. We hope to see you again next year!

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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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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