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SXSW 2018: an editor’s final surprises and wows in Austin – 17th March 2018 (Part 2)

 
By on Thursday, 5th April 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

For the first time all week, I didn’t have a plan at the start to my evening. I had some tentative ideas but then decided I should probably queue for Latitude 30, as I had been locked out of the press allocation of the SXxpress passes for Saturday night. Both Carrie and I have seen daunting queues outside the venue in past years but this year, the British Music Embassy didn’t seem as big of a draw. Friday night’s rap-focussed night headlined by SXSW 2016 showcasing artist AJ Tracey had trouble getting foot traffic in, they ended up opening it up to the public. I was surprised that I was able to get in and in plenty of time ahead of the start of Superorganism’s set. There’s been huge buzz around these supposed ‘aliens’ and so they were more of a curiosity to me than anything else. This evening was sponsored by BBC Radio 1 and the UK’s Department of International Trade (formerly UK Trade and Investment).

Superorganism Saturday at SXSW 2018

In reality, the band hail from varied locations as New Zealand, South Korea, and Lancashire, while being led by the teenaged American via Japan Orono Noguchi. As a friend of mine with me that night quipped, “they’re like a mad version of The Go! Team!” Hard to argue with that logic. Their schtick is to act like they’re not from this planet, from the funny raincoats they start their set with, to pretending they don’t know what Teddy Grahams are. I didn’t find them as funny and avant-garde as advertised. I have trouble stomaching young kids swearing and witnessing Noguchi do this as part of her stage patter just came across as uncomfortable. I can see the pop appeal of their weird songs: they’re easy to sing along to, and who doesn’t think dancing shrimp are cute? But is this a project that has legs? Clearly, Domino Records think so, they put out their debut album last year. They’re appearing at the Great Escape in May, and I’m just happy I can say I’ve already seen them and leave that show in Brighton to their crazy fans.

I hung in there so I could watch girl duo IDER, recent signees to Glassnote Records. IDER were invited to showcase at SXSW last year; we previewed them then and I was so disappointed they didn’t come out to Austin. A year of tightening their sound and live performance led to this week in Austin where they performed at show after show and did so with smiles on their faces. Their last chance to impress was at this BBC Radio 1 and Department of International Trade showcase at the British Music Embassy.


IDER Saturday at SXSW 2018

Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville certainly didn’t look like they’d been put through the SXSW wringer. Beginning their set with an arresting a capella duet, it seemed they were eager to prove that their voices could stand on their own and without electronic augmentation. Like their many shows in Austin before it, this one was full up and proof that word had gotten around about their talent. There’s nowhere for them to go but up from here.

Uncomfortable by the sardine situation at Latitude 30, I said goodbye to my friend, extricated myself from the crowd and walked on to my next destination on 6th Street, fully expecting to be to have arrived during a changeover. Returning to the Velveeta Room for a second timethat week, I was pleasantly surprised to be able to catch the latter half of Margate singer/songwriter Dan Lyons’ set. As regular readers of TGTF know, the singer/songwriter genre is Carrie’s forte, not mine. I find that after a while, these artists start to blur in sound and in my mind. Don’t sing to me from atop a stool. Others may think you’re cool, but I’ll just be bored. I’d rather rock out.

Dan Lyons Saturday at SXSW 2018 4

There is a dark edge to Lyons’ songwriting, a world of blown smoke rings, psych and blues and Laurel Canyon harmonies with his bandmate and partner Freya. The songs are Something tells me he’d get along with Stephen Duffy and they’d have a laugh, like I had described New Pope at Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 should go drinking with Dylan and Tom Waits. Lyons was previously the drummer for Fat White Family in a previous life, so it’s nice to see an artist coming from behind the skins to do his own thing.

The label ‘synthpop’ LYLO have been given hasn’t done them any favours. I know what I think synthpop sounds like, and there are legends of the genre like my beloved Duran Duran and OMD that tend to used as examples. The Glaswegian band go far beyond the basic synthpop mould by having a saxophone player – seriously, what synthpop band do YOU know has a saxophonist? – and their cool attitude oozing from every pore.

LYLO Saturday at SXSW 2018

You remember Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’, right? Recall that Rafferty was Scottish and this hipness is buried there in their DNA. On ‘Turn My Jacket’, there’s a lot going on, but it’s a happy kind of organised chaos. I found my head bopping to the beat and cheering on these lads. I cracked up as I watched the legs of their keyboardist move around as if they had a mind of their own. Mind you, this was all happening while his hands were at attention on the keys. I guess even he can’t control himself when he gets swept up in the rhythm?

What better way to finish out my SXSW 2018 than with a band that I’d discovered while listening through all the bands from the Continent, poised to find the next big band out of Europe. Moonlight Breakfast, who I’d previewed in the Music Bloggers Guide to SXSW 2018, were appearing at Friends. They were prepared: they had brought their own lighting and projection screens on which they could run their own visuals. These may not sound like much and possibly unnecessary at a dive like Friends. But taken together, they made their show stand out as a professional presentation from nearly all the others I’d seen all week. World class. I would like to think that the place was packed because people had heard about them through my write-up and word has spread fast.

Moonlight Breakfast Saturday at SXSW 2018

Make no mistake, ‘professional’ doesn’t mean stuffy. Like LYLO before them, they had a secret weapon in the form of the clarinet that their drummer ‘Bazooka’ played on ‘I Feel Like Dancing’, and to huge audience cheers. The bounce of singles ‘Time’ and ‘Shout’ made them irrepressible and so catchy, you could feel the energy building in the room. Singer Christie sang with a megaphone and with a huge grin on her face. She knew they’d done good. On the final night of SXSW, you couldn’t ask for a better high note. Fans were fighting over who would buy them drinks after their performance. I smiled to myself as I skipped out the front door of the bar. My job here is done.

I went back to the hotel to start packing for the trip back home and to mentally prepare for the difficult return to my normal life. Seeing Moonlight Breakfast wow a crowd like that was another reminder, like many reminders that week, that TGTF and my writing and opinion here makes a difference. I know for myself that although I can’t be that singer I wanted to be when I was a little girl, the next best thing I can do is to help that girl (or guy) with the same dream. Dream big, laugh, love. Goodnight, SXSW 2018.

For more of my photos from Saturday at SXSW 2018, visit my Flickr.

 

SXSW 2017: the Killing Moon / ReverbNation / Metro showcase (part 2) and BBC Radio 1 / PRS for Music / PPL showcase – 14th March 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 28th March 2017 at 5:00 pm
 

Upon my return to Scratchouse for the second half of the evening, I was pleased to see that Manningtree’s SuperGlu were proving their reception Monday night at the British Music Embassy wasn’t sheer dumb luck. (And if you missed the first half of my Tuesday evening, you can read it back here.) While the room at the indoor stage was certainly smaller than that of Latitude 30, SuperGlu proved they could draw a big, not to mention animated and engaged crowd without the promotional muscle of the BME.

Interestingly and somewhat headscratchingly, Killing Moon, ReverbNation and London newspaper Metro chose to put the quieter acts for their Tuesday night showcase on the backyard stage at Scratchouse. I guess they thought people who would coming out to the backyard would want to sit on the benches? Folk rocker Reuben Bidez is originally from Atlanta, but a relocation to Nashville appears to have done him good, according to American Songwriter. TGTF readers know this kind of music isn’t my bailiwick but rather up Carrie’s alley, so we’ll be sure to keep an eye on Bidez’s progress in his new locale going forward.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9eFQzHG2tg[/youtube]

As part of our TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 previewing acts from the South of England, Steven described Guildford’s Annabel Allum as a free spirit, one who “refuses to be pigeonholed or adhering to any kind of fad.” While I was keen on seeing Allum live, as it happens all too often at SXSW, it’s difficult to focus on a single musician when so much stuff is going on around you, in the venues nearby and with the buzz of chatter of punters who aren’t paying attention to who’s on stage. Under the eerie glow of lights on the backyard stage and wearing a flowy blouse, I got the feeling like Mt. Wolf earlier in the evening that a conventional club atmosphere (or even a coffee shop?) would have done Allum more favours.

Annabel Allum, Killing Moon, ReverbNation, Metro UK, Scratchouse, Tuesday 14 March 2017

Turning my attention back to the indoor stage at Scratchouse, it was time for Dine Alone Records act Mantra (stylized Måntra, as I understand it for purely legal reasons) to take the stage. Definitely more my speed. Growing up with the music of Led Zeppelin thanks to an older brother who for a time only listened to music designed pummel your eardrums and annoy parents, there will always be a part of me that wishes I could play guitar like Jimmy Page. Mantra are probably the closest these days I’m going to get to Led Zeppelin and one better, they seem to be taking the best of what England’s grand rock tradition of the last 20 years has had to offer into their sound. Namely Muse, or at least before Matt Bellamy went commercial (I haven’t forgotten you getting into bed with Twilight, Matt), too out there and sometimes just plain annoying.

Mantra, Killing Moon, ReverbNation, Metro UK, Scratchouse, Tuesday 14 March 2017

We’ve gone through an unusual period of seeing duos like Drenge, Royal Blood and Slaves prove you don’t need more than two people in a hard rock band. However, my memory goes back far enough to remember a time when rock trios like The Joy Formidable were questioned for their ability to pack in the firepower. There’s no such question in the case of Ealing’s Mantra. This is hard driving, pulse thumping rock for the headbanger, and this is the band who will renew your faith that good, hard rock can still be found in England. Check out my interview with the band in Austin through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVGqb9gJnSw[/youtube]

SYKES, Killing Moon, ReverbNation, Metro UK, Scratchouse, Tuesday 14 March 2017

Time for a quick dash back to the backyard for my final band at Scratchouse for the night, SYKES. The band is named for frontwoman Julia Sykes, lead singer and keyboardist for the band. They’ve had an interesting ride so far, having recently appeared at the traditionally hard rocking Warped tour, wowing crowds with their self-described alt-electropop. Sykes, in a Chicago-themed hoodie, was the epitome of composure, and it’s not surprising, given that their band showcased last year in Austin and weren’t suffering from SXSW virgin sensory overload. It’s just too bad that there was a bigger crowd for Sykes’ yearning voice and their buzzy, crunchy synth beats, as this is exactly the kind of band I’d expect SiriusXM’s Alt Nation to pick up on.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVHOAZ6UIAA[/youtube]

We don’t do a lot of writing about hip hop and grime on TGTF because, as I repeated quite a bit in Austin to friends, I just don’t feel comfortable about us writing about it if it’s a genre we don’t know a lot about. Dave, also known as Santan Dave, which explains his otherwise unusual Twitter handle @santandave1, was longlisted for the BBC Sound of 2017, so it was nice to see the BBC put him on the Tuesday night British Music Embassy showcase sponsored by Radio 1, PRS for Music and PPL.

Dave, Radio 1, PRS for Music, PPL showcase, British Music Embassy, Tuesday 14 March 2017

I’ve still got a lot to learn about how this genre is morphing and expanding its reach in the UK. But even without knowing much about this Streatham native, standing there in Latitude 30 as punters looked on silent and in rapt attention, you knew you were witnessing greatness. It must have been a terrifying moment for Dave to perform on such a stage and at such a young age. But he must also have felt incredible validation by the reception he received in Austin.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2H0mXC2Wbs[/youtube]

Kent punk duo Slaves are no stranger to Austin and SXSW, or to TGTF for that matter. As rightly noted by drummer and master of ceremonies Isaac Holman from the stage of Latitude 30, they performed previously and on a Radio 1 showcase in 2014. I got on the Slaves bandwagon pretty late, which was probably for the best, as I refused to be swept up by the hype and wanted to decide for myself if they were an act I wanted to follow. Suffice to say, I finally got on, not so much for their musical prowess than for the sheer fun of their music. Let’s face it: Slaves’ specialty is hard, fast, in your face tunes, whilst also being tongue in cheek. Who else would subject one of their crew to crowdsurfing in a manta ray suit for their ‘art’? And really, how smart was it of Holman it to be wearing a coonskin cap, a symbol of American frontiersman Davy Crockett and a symbol of white entitlement, during this period of unprecedented racial prejudice in our country? I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he had no idea.

Slaves, Radio 1, PRS for Music, PPL showcase, British Music Embassy, Tuesday 14 March 2017

But make no mistake, they’re not animals, Slaves realise what they’re doing and while they’re all for their fans having fun during their shows, they’re also not going to be dicks about it either. Guitarist Laurie Vincent, realising that a circle pit was forming down the front at Latitude 30 in response to their aggressive music, acted quickly and helpfully to direct photographers out of the fray and to the side of the stage so their expensive cameras wouldn’t get destroyed in the melee. ‘Spit It Out’, from last year’s ‘Take Control’ out now on Virgin EMI, was a revelation live, and the crowd were completely up for their punishing show. Mission accomplished. It seems strange to think they’re still playing small clubs here in America but on the other hand, it seems fair. Even though they’re signed to a major in the UK and they’re huge in Europe, they’re having to win over new fans in a new territory, just like everyone else who tries to make a go of it over here.

 

Twin Atlantic / May 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Thursday, 2nd March 2017 at 9:00 am
 

Glaswegian alt-rockers Twin Atlantic will be touring the UK in May. They’ll be bringing their autumn 2016 album ‘GLA’ for another spin out on the road. Tickets for this tour are on sale now. Below the tour dates, you can watch the group cover Kings of Leon‘s ‘Waste a Moment’ from their BBC Radio 1 Lie Lounge appearance in January. To catch up on all of TGTF’s coverage of Twin Atlantic, use this link.

Thursday 18th May 2017 – Aberdeen Beach Ballroom
Friday 19th May 2017 – Inverness Ironworks
Saturday 20th May 2017 – Coventry Copper Rooms
Monday 22nd May 2017 – Bristol Academy
Tuesday 23th May 2017 – London Electric Brixton
Wednesday 24th May 2017 – Cambridge Junction
Friday 26th May 2017 – Exeter Lemon Grove
Tuesday 30th May 2017 – Wrexham William Aston Hall
Wednesday 31st May 2017 – Swansea Sin City

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWGoF6Zis1Q[/youtube]

 

Specialist DJ Takeover on Radio1 This Week

 
By on Monday, 3rd January 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Radio1 is making an unusual move for the first week of 2011, in the form of four of their most famous and popular presenters taking over their airwaves from 7 AM to 7 PM every day this week. Turning the Radio1 schedule completely on its head, Zane Lowe will present in the breakfast show from 7 to 10 AM instead of his usual evening timeslot. Electronic music specialist Annie Mac will be in charge 10 AM to 1 PM. Indie band champion Huw Stephens (pictured above) will preside over the afternoon 1 to 4 PM slot. And Nick Grimshaw will be at the mixing desk at 4 to 7 PM, a couple hours earlier than his normal late night specialist show weeknights Monday through Thursday.

This unique “specialist DJ takeover” week will give these four DJs the latitude to look back at the bands they championed in 2010 while bringing attention to the acts they think will be big in 2011. A special feature to Zane Lowe’s breakfast show is the announcement of the top 5 acts of the BBC Sound of 2011, one each day, until the #1 act is crowned on Friday, the 7th of January 2011. For more info on the artists on the BBC Sound of 2011 longlist and a comparison with TGTF’s own 10 for 2011 and the MTV Brand New for 2011 list, go here.

 

deadmau5 / December 2010 UK Tour

 
By on Monday, 30th August 2010 at 3:15 pm
 

Canadian electronic DJ legend deadmau5 has announced his biggest tour of the UK to date for December. This is a big deal, as deadmau5 will be the first electronic artist ever to play at Earls Court. Also, the Glasgow Braehead Arena show on 17 December will be broadcast live on Radio1 as Annie Mac and Pete Tong co-host a backstage pre-show and will bring interviews with deadmau5, Magnetic Man and Calvin Harris. Read more info on the event on the Radio1 Web site here.

Tickets are £27.50 plus booking fee except for London (£30 plus booking fee). Tickets go on general sale this Friday (3 September) at 9 AM. Fans purchasing tickets before midnight the 16th of September will also receive a free download of the unreleased, exclusive track ‘A City in Florida’.

Wednesday 8th December 2010 – Bournemouth O2 Academy (with Kim Fai; 16+)
Thursday 9th December 2010 – Leeds O2 Academy (with Kim Fai; 18+)
Friday 10th December 2010 – Manchester Central (with Zane Lowe and
Magnetic Man; 16+)
Saturday 11th December 2010 – Coventry Ricoh Arena (with Zane Lowe and Magnetic Man; 16+; broadcast live on Radio1)
Friday 17th December 2010 – Glasgow Braehead Arena (with Zane Lowe,
Magnetic Man and special guest Calvin Harris [DJ set]; 18+)
Saturday 18th December 2010 – London Earls Court (with Zane Lowe and Magnetic Man; 16+)

 

Preview: Radio 1’s Art of Noise

 
By on Monday, 12th April 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

I’m not going to lie to you – my music tastes are pretty mainstream, sometimes a bit off-kilter, but generally I don’t go too much to the extremes of any genre. Most experimental electronic music has long been off my radar, with me thinking it was largely unlistenable blips, clicks and thumps with little melody made by bearded middle aged men. However, tonight in the first of a two part documentary, Radio 1’s Dev receives an education in the history of the genre and tries to make his own track in an attempt to get Mary Anne Hobbs to play it on her cutting-edge show.

Many of the names mentioned in the show were familiar to me (Autechre, Aphex Twin (pictured at top) etc), but I couldn’t tell you anything about them or their music, so the hour long show is a great overview of the whole scene, both historically and at the moment. I was surprised at just how much of the stuff played I liked, and Dev’s easy going daytime ways made it all easy to digest. Understandably, some of you will hate that a massive scene is being turned into a one-hour overview, but for the casual listener it’s a great start.

Some of the music (towards the end of the documentary form Wrong Music) is rather, erm, “different” (okay, an all-out assault on my ears) and not what I would choose to listen to at all, but like all genres, there’s stuff you like and stuff you’re not so keen on. Some of you will love it no doubt.

The underpinning theme to the show is Dev’s challenge to make a track decent enough for Mary Anne Hobbs to play on her show – in just two weeks. US artist Starkey did it a few weeks ago on Mary Anne’s show when he made a track it in just two hours, but he’s had years of practice so Dev had to learn quickly about what makes a good experimental electronic track.

Next Monday, Dev explores the live experimental music scene – going to large festivals ATP and Bloc, and smaller more underground nights around the UK. If you’re adventurous in your music tastes, but not sure where to start, you certainly could do a lot worse than checking out this documentary.

You can catch Radio 1’s Art of Noise tonight at 9pm, or on the iPlayer after the show has finished.

 
 
 

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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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