SXSW 2018: Tuesday night with a mix of American, English and Scottish artists – 13th March 2018

By on Monday, 2nd April 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Tuesday evening at SXSW 2018 was a bit of a mixed bag, but as often happens with mixed bags, there were treasures waiting to be discovered within. I started my night session at the Seven Grand, which played host to the Killing Moon x ReverbNation showcase. The UK indie record label and the American artist development company had joined forces to create a strong lineup representing both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. I arrived early for an interview with London singer/songwriter Allman Brown (watch for that article to post in the coming days), but the action on stage started with Massachusetts rock band Lux Deluxe.

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I had never heard of Lux Deluxe before that Tuesday night, but they had a handful of devoted fans in the small crowd at the Seven Grand, as evidenced by the cheering and dancing that broke out as soon as the band hit the stage. To my ear, there was nothing particularly remarkable about their generic rock ‘n’ roll, but it was unquestionably energetic and there was nothing really offensive about it either. Unfortunately, my main impression was that lead singer Ned King, for all his enthusiasm, looked like Rick Moranis doing a bad Mick Jagger impersonation, and that mental image, once formed, was one that I couldn’t unsee.

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Unlike the exuberant band before him, Allman Brown came on stage alone and with a distinctly unassuming air about him. His banter with the gathering crowd was engaging, even to the point of distraction, until he mildly admonished an enthusiastic woman dressed in a panda suit [Amanda Panda – Ed.], “We’ll talk later, I’m kind of in the middle of something now.” Luckily, his impassioned singing soon had the crowd’s full attention. TGTF featured Brown’s track ‘Sons and Daughters’ in collaboration with Liz Lawrence in our (SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #397, but his solo acoustic performance at the Seven Grand was more powerful, and his latest ballad ‘Moonlight’ took on an even more delicate beauty.

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The remainder of the  Killing Moon x ReverbNation docket included UK bands Francobollo, Flyte, and Otzeki, but after Allman Brown’s lovely interlude, I excused myself and headed for the Driskill Hotel, whose Victorian Room is a sure bet if you want to hear singer/songwriters at SXSW. I was excited to see Chloe Foy, whom we also previewed ahead of her appearance in Austin, but I arrived early enough to catch the act on before her, Brooklyn folk duo The Brother Brothers.

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As with Lux Deluxe, I hadn’t acquainted myself with The Brother Brothers, who are actually twins Adam and David Moss. My ears were greeted with their graceful Americana sound as soon as I walked into the otherwise quiet Victorian Room, and I was immediately fascinated when I noticed that one of the brothers was plucking and strumming his violin in the style of a guitar. He would switch to the more traditional method as their set went on, and the instrumental harmonies between the violin and guitar were as simple and sweet as their vocal counterparts. Click here to watch The Brother Brothers perform their song ‘Tugboats’, and on an actual tugboat!

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In the interim after The Brother Brothers’ set, I took a seat on the carpeted floor, as is customary in the Victorian Room, to get a better vantage point for Chloe Foy. When I next looked up, I found myself sitting cross-legged next to NPR’s Bob Boilen. He and I have crossed paths before at SXSW, most memorably in 2016 when we both covered Brighton singer/songwriter Holly Macve. I wasn’t entirely surprised to see him, as Foy and Macve have similarly enchanting alt-folk overtones, though Foy’s influences lean more toward the delicate beauty of the English art song tradition. Foy played a mesmerising set at the Driskill, including the darkly dramatic ‘Fire and Flood’.

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Scottish songwriter Colin Macleod might be considered an exception to the Driskill’s standard singer/songwriter fare, as his brand of folk rock is more alt-rock than folk-influenced. However, the emphasis on lyrical composition is clearly part of Macleod’s repertoire, and in that way, he fits quite nicely into the singer/songwriter category. Unfortunately, the reserved and decorous vibe of the venue didn’t entirely suit the style of his music, and his performance ultimately felt a bit constrained. The highlight of the set was his current single ‘Kicks In’, which did in fact lift the energy level in the room for at least a brief moment.

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Macleod’s set actually ran a bit short, so I had plenty of time to make my next appointment at B.D. Riley’s for Alabama indie rock band Belle Adair. I’ve typically visited B.D. Riley’s during the annual Full Irish Breakfast, so it initially felt a little strange for me to hear American accents coming from the small stage. However, Belle Adair’s mellow pop-rock was an easy adjustment to make, and their engaging warmth on stage clearly resonated with the crowd in the Irish pub. Listening to their current single ‘Get Away’ was indeed like taking a brief mental vacation from the hustle and bustle of SXSW; watch the official video just below

My final stop for the evening was at The Main II for an Irish rock band I’d first seen last year at B.D. Riley’s, The Academic. Mary was already at the venue when I arrived, and though we don’t typically double up on coverage, this was to be The Academic’s only SXSW 2018 show, and neither of us wanted to miss it. You might already have read Mary’s report on the show back here, so I’ll only add that this was a very different band to the four shy lads who stared at their shoes on the B.D. Riley’s stage a year ago. This time they had a hit album under their belts, and the room was full of young female fans, as well as a rowdy group of Irish punters who’d come specifically to see them play their 1 AM show. The Academic took full advantage of the triumphant mood, playing an exuberantly sweaty and altogether brilliant set to cap off their North American tour.

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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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