SXSW 2018: Friday night with Communion, AdHoc, Sounds from Italy, and…more

By on Friday, 27th April 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

The Friday night of SXSW typically finds St. David’s Episcopal Church taken over by Communion Music for their annual showcase of exemplary songwriters across genres. SXSW 2018 was no different in that regard, and while I didn’t set foot inside the British Music Embassy even once during the week, I did manage to make my annual pilgrimage to St. David’s, though this year’s visit would be brief.

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The church’s main sanctuary was already crowded by the time I arrived, in anticipation of popular British singer Lucy Rose. Rose has made a concerted effort over the past several years to reconnect with her fans, who have repaid her with unconditional adoration. Rose opened her Communion set with a rather unusual introduction, saying “I’m here to play all your favourite songs.” After playing a couple of new tunes and fan favourite ‘Shiver’, Rose took a handful of requests from the audience, her spontaneity and genuine connection only adding to the graceful charm of her performance. Take a listen to her acoustic performance of ‘Moirai’ for Burberry by clicking here.

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Following Rose on stage was Irish breakout sensation Dermot Kennedy, who editor Mary also covered in her Friday night recap. Despite his perhaps overly casual attire, Kennedy made a strong impression on the audience with his jarring combination of gentle folk and powerful hip-hop styles. Standing at first empty-handed in front of the microphone, he assumed an almost prayerful position in the pulpit while singing. Later in the set, Kennedy would demonstrate his guitar skills (as well as his left-handedness). His powerful single ‘Moments Passed’ stunned the St. David’s crowd to silence, followed immediately by ecstatic applause.

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After Kennedy finished, I left the Communion show to head over to Cheer Up Charlie’s, where American singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus was playing on the AdHoc showcase. Dacus’ recent LP ‘Historian’ has been a critical success, and its songs were no less effective in live performance. Dacus herself was mild-mannered and reserved on stage behind a pair of studious round eyeglasses, but her music made a more powerful emotional statement. You can watch Dacus perform ‘Historians’ for NPR’s South X Lullaby right through here.

During Dacus’ set, my evening took a slight detour. While I was photographing her with my smartphone, I received an email notification from one of The Lost Brothers, whom Mary and I had seen and chatted with on Tuesday. They were preparing to play a post-SXSW show in my adopted hometown of Tucson, but found themselves potentially stranded at the airport in Phoenix, over 100 miles away, on the day of the gig. As soon as Dacus finished playing, I found myself an empty chair and, in a flurry of emails and text messages, located a Tucson compatriot who was able to give the Irish folk duo a lift. This same friend told me later that the Losties’ show in Tucson was a smashing success–I was quite jealous that she got to go and I didn’t! But, as they say, all’s well that ends well, and this story indeed had a happy ending.

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Feeling satisfied with my logistical efforts, I left Cheer Up Charlie’s at a bit of a loose end. It was late by this point, and I figured I probably only had time for one more show before calling it a night. I consulted the SXSW Go app and settled on folk pop singer Damien McFly (aka Damiano Ferrari), who was playing on the Sounds from Italy showcase at Stephen F’s Bar on the second floor of the Intercontinental Hotel. The setting was elegant enough and not too crowded, but the small audience at Stephen F’s seemed a bit deflated at this late hour. After a long technical delay, McFly and his band finally took the stage, and while the songs themselves were engaging, the band never quite made up their lost momentum. However, McFly’s songwriting is well worth a second listen. Check out his sharp live performance of ‘Leap’, courtesy of K Session, just below.

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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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