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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: best bets of Scandinavian artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Tuesday, 28th February 2017 at 11:00 am
 

There’s an embarrassment of riches in the form of the Scandinavian artists scheduled to descend on SXSW 2017 next month. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland collectively will be sending over 30 acts to Austin, an amazing critical mass of acts for a combined population on the same order of the number of people in the state of Texas. Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised about the musicians from a region known for their long winters? You know what they say about Manchester and Seattle bands: when the weather outside is awful, more time indoors to perfect your art, am I right?

There are some established, or at least famous names that will be familiar to most readers. Prolific Danish singer/songwriter Agnes Obel, who now calls Berlin home, released her latest album ‘Citizen of Glass’ last autumn and will be making the trip to Austin. You can read my review of her latest single ‘Stretch Your Eyes’ here. No strangers to either controversy or media attention for their previous provocative moniker, Norwegian feminist-leaning pop punks Sløtface are sure to be another hot ticket during the week, having already laid waste to the UK on their own short headline tour earlier this month. Jakob Bjørn-Hansen, better known as Norwegian electronic artist and producer Bearson, has been poking around for a few years now with his own brand of tropical house, as well as his remix talents.

Shows by Swedish alt-pop band Simian Ghost, who already have three albums to their name and are working on their fourth, are sure to attract plenty of punters. The EP-only synthpop band Kite have enjoyed enormous success in their home country of Sweden and graced industrial nights around the world. Satellite Stories are the true epitome of the Nordic success story, as in Europe, they’re the best known indie band from Finland.

In today’s installment of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017, I introduce you to the acts I think are the best representatives of their part of the world. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances. As of today’s writing, we know of Music Norway’s plans to put on a Sounds from Norway showcase on Thursday 16 March at Lucille on Rainey Street, if that floats your boat.

Anna von Hausswolf – goth pop / rock / Gothenburg, Sweden
Is the world ready for a Swedish Kate Bush? Too late, she’s already here. With her operatic, far-reaching vocals and the shadowy but pounding chords of her organ, the sound of Anna von Hausswolf and her band is arresting. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those looking for something a bit darker in a sunny clime like Austin’s, step into these shadows.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uABaTw73PFU[/youtube]

Ask Carol – punk / Oslo
With a name that sounds more like the title of an advice column than the hard rock act they are, Ask Carol make an emphatic case, urging listeners to be assertive. Influenced by acts as disparate as Wilco to Lauryn Hill, but bolstered by the hard edginess of The Clash and Led Zeppelin, they’ll be a fun, high octane proposition live.

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

Chain Wallet – pop / rock / Bergen, Norway
Stian Iversen, Christian Line and Frode Boris are the principal members of Chain Wallet (pictured at top), occupying that nebulous area between lo-fi psych, dream pop and dance. Already drawing comparisons to Twin Shadow and DIIV, the lightness of their sound is sure to go over well among the chill crowds at SXSW.

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

CHINAH – pop / r&b / electronic / Copenhagen
Fine Glindvad fronts CHINAH, a Copenhagen trio specialising in that now-popular smooth blend of minimalist beat, upbeat guitar-filled, soulful xx-type sound. Hard to believe that in their current incarnation where they sound reminiscent of London Grammar that they were previously a folk outfit.

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

Darling West – folk / Oslo
We’re not taking anything away from them, but it’s time to take those blinders off that the only folks from the Nordic countries who can do country well are First Aid Kit. Darling West, a tight-knit trio led by the dulcet tones of Mari Sandvær Kreken, are about to get the Soderburg sisters a run for their money. Simple, yet stunning harmonies and instrumentation.

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

One Week Wonder – electronic / dream pop / Reykjavik
One Week Wonder comprises keyboardists Árni Guðjónsson and Magnús Benedikt Sigurðsson and Helgi Kristjánsson on drums. Despite a clear leaning towards today’s technology in their choice of instruments, Guðjónsson says he favours what he considers the more natural way of recording on tape, which is unusual for electronic artists. The surprising result: a remarkably smoother, less cluttered recording and a gorgeous, unparalleled atmosphere.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws6mArTzfuU[/youtube]

Rainbrother – folk rock / Copenhagen
While we’re waiting on the supposed return of Fleet Foxes, we can occupy ourselves with Danes Rainbrother, who just released their debut album at the start of February. On ‘Tales from the Drought’, Bjarke Bendtsen’s latest rock group conjure up the folky, hazy side of Bon Iver with the lonesome mountain sound of Robin Pecknold’s hugely popular band. Why bother waiting on either of them to release new material if you can catch Rainbrother in the flesh in Austin?

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6PGkRHS720[/youtube]

Tuvaband – lo-fi / dream pop / singer/songwriter / Oslo, Norway
Can SXSW take another lo-fi band? Of course. Named for singer/songwriter Tuva Hellum Marschhäuser, the ethereal, dream pop quality of Tuvaband is sure to win you over. And forget about those unwashed lo-fi dudes with long hair…

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tXswSWalpM[/youtube]

 

Preview: Roskilde Festival 2016

 
By on Monday, 2nd May 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Across 8 days in late June into early July, some of the biggest names in contemporary music, along with some incredible up-and-comers, will descend on the Danish island of Zealand to take part in the open-air Roskilde Festival. From the 25th of June to the 2nd of July, Roskilde will be featuring an incredible 183 acts across nine stages at the largest music festival in Northern Europe.

Wednesday will see the likes of Wiz Khalifa and At the Drive-In on the Arena stage, as well as Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes on Avalon and Red Hot Chili Peppers as headliners on the Orange stage. Also on the Orange stage, earlier in the day, will be The Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music, a group of musicians torn apart by the war in Syria but reassembled in January of this year and who will be performing alongside Damon Albarn and guests. The orchestra, who have previously worked with Albarn on Gorillaz’ ‘Plastic Beach’ album, will be a sight to see. From what I’ve seen on YouTube, they look pretty incredible and I can only imagine how they sound live.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH4wUt4PVtI[/youtube]

The always crowd-pleasing Hinds from Madrid, who released their debut LP ‘Leave Me Alone’ earlier this year, will be representing the Spanish indie rock scene. Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band of Ghana are sure to be a dance-fuelled joyful experience, bringing Afro-funk and a carnival-esque feel to the Avalon stage: a must catch for anyone wanting to experience a spectacular African inspired sound.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7S0mnaPNnI[/youtube]

On Thursday there’s another wide variety of acts to see, with most musical tastes catered to. Tenacious D, CHVRCHES, PJ Harvey, Santigold and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are a selection of the eclectic mix of acts that will be playing throughout the day. Dev Hynes as Blood Orange, who you will recall going by the name Lightspeed Champion in the past, is also among the line-up and will be one to catch for any soul/funk lovers, while London female post-punk outfit Savages are a good shout for anyone hoping to catch something a little heavier. You can also catch hitmaker Elle King, a dusky-voiced soul-rock singer who released her debut album in 2015 and whose banjo-laced music is given a country sounding edge, on Thursday.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uLI6BnVh6w[/youtube]

Moving on to Friday, there’s again plenty for everyone. Biffy Clyro will be playing on the Arena stage, which should be a good show considering the trio have just announced their new album ‘Ellipsis’, their newest since 2013. Foals will also be playing, along with Skepta, M83 and Neil Young and Promise of the Real. Aussies Tame Impala are not to be missed, as their infectious psychedelic pop rock will have even the stiffest of dancers bopping along. Also on Friday, James Blake will be playing, as well as the incredible Hurray for the Riff Raff, whose bluesy indie folk will be perfect for those that don’t fancy catching Biffy Clyro.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBzrzS1Ag_g[/youtube]

Saturday brings music behemoths New Order to the stage, along with LCD Soundsystem, Miike Snow and The Last Shadow Puppets (pictured at top in their younger days, but who have just released a new album.) I also came across Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra while researching the festival and am hooked on their funky, jazz-trimmed abstract style; I am now jealous of everyone that will get to see them in action. Brazilian-born singer/songwriter Dillon is not to be missed, his throaty voice and gentle, electronic melodies accompanied by piano evocative and moving. The Entrepreneurs are also worth catching: their lofty, eerie sound is described as “noise and romance” on the band’s Facebook, and this sums them up pretty well.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ut2xTMVvh_8[/youtube]

The festival also offers, along with the incredible array of music detailed above, the opportunity to participate in or simply witness the mad splendour that is the annual Naked Run. Yes, that’s right, men and women competing in a race in all their naked glory for a ticket for next year’s festival. There are still tickets available for this year if you fancy getting involved in the action, and the festival website details travel and accommodation information.

 

Live Gig Video: Mew perform ‘Witness’ around dancing fans in a club in Copenhagen

 
By on Thursday, 16th July 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

There’s been such a fuss following Danish band Mew everywhere this year and with good reason: ‘+-‘, their first album in 6 years, came out in April, much to the delight of their devoted fans. It never occurred to me that Mew were a headbanging-inducing type rock band until I saw this new video they’ve released, filmed during a fans-only show they did at Copenhagen Republique Theatre around the time of the release of the new LP. It’s dark and dingy and more ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ than you remember them, eh? Watch the performance in its sweaty glory below.

Want to read all things Mew on TGTF? Right this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0qjL6Jh-8o[/youtube]

 

Roskilde Festival: Final Impressions

 
By on Friday, 23rd July 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

By now if you’ve been following the action at TGTF over the last 2 weeks, you’ve read my recollections of this year’s Roskilde Festival. I’m happy to say that for some minor blisters on my feet from wearing wellies for 4 days, I came away from my first massive musical festival experience pretty much unscathed, and I now have some incredible, incredible memories I know that won’t be topped for years to come.

Should you consider going to Roskilde next year, here are some of my personal observations:

The good:
Friendly and incredibly helpful security. Everyone who works at Roskilde Festival has a smile. And except for the Biffy Clyro set, I never once felt really worried for my safety. Security at the Miike Snow set easily took care of one guy who fainted backward and fell – hard – on the bare ground. Know that you are being well looked after.

Being offered water at the front of the stages, as well as water being available nearly everywhere to keep everyone hydrated.

Most punters were eager to be helpful even if their English wasn’t that great. Considering how nervous I was about the language barrier, most were happy to meet me halfway with my not-so-good Danish. Know the two basic phrases: ‘tak’ – thank you, and ‘undskyld’ – excuse me.

The bad:
Pricey food and drinks. It didn’t make much difference to me as I didn’t eat a lot to begin with because of the heat but yeah, £3 for a Coke is tough for me to get used to. Tip: bring your own food (you couldn’t bring your own drinks into the festival this year). And while you’re packing the essentials, bring lots of wet wipes and plasters.

Waiting a long time to use the toilets. (Granted, what facilities I did use never ran out of toilet paper. I was surprised. I never once had to bring out the rolls I had scuttled away in my backpack.)

Watching girls and guys too impatient to use the toilets (hope I don’t need to spell this out for you). If you have a delicate and/or particularly sharp nose, do what some girls I saw did – bring a handkerchief to cover your olfactory senses.

Moshers with no regard for anyone else (see note above about the Biffy Clyro set) and people who deliberately picked fights in the pits. Let’s all be friends, eh?

The ugly:
Mates ganging up together to push other people out the way to get desired real estate at the front of shows. This is not cool, no matter if it’s at a festival or a regular gig, no matter the country. I don’t care how much you want to be close to LCD Soundsystem, you should respect your fellow gig-goers.

People who thought I was weird for travelling from America for this festival. If I got a pound every time someone said to me ‘you’re weird’ or ‘you’re crazy’ for coming this distance…

Header photo by Jens Dige/Rockphoto

 

Roskilde Festival: Day 4 Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 22nd July 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

Sunday. Day 4 of Roskilde. We’re in the homestretch now. It feels like I’ve been running a marathon for the last 3 days (complete with perspiration) and there is some relief that it will be over. But that is tempered largely by the thought that indeed, the festival will soon be over, which means my return to America. A sad thought.

I decide on a lie-in, a relaxing breakfast (as opposed to the semi-frantic protein bulk-up brekky of the day before), not traipsing over to the festival until mid-afternoon. The first act I see is Korean rhythmic group Dulsori, a swirling dervish of drum and stringed instrument players, both men and women. I feel terrible that they are in their traditional garb; they must be boiling. But the power and effort they use to put on a show seems unaffected by the freakishly hot temperatures. I didn’t think they would go down well with a Danish audience, but their performance concludes with loud cheers at Odeon.

Pavilion is close by to Odeon and quite near to what became my go-to food stall for sheer overall food size. (Slight hilarity that most of the food I ate at Roskilde came from a place called ‘Dixie Burger’ that served Southern-American style hamburgers.) And Pavilion is hosting the highly-touted Californian band Local Natives. Maybe it is because the festival is drawing to a close or I have seen so many great acts already, but I am not impressed by the band from Los Angeles. My ears perk up when I hear the riffs of ‘Flake’, a song by American surfer dude Jack Johnson that came out when I was in uni. I hang out with the tired festival-goers in the shade and watch Johnson from the Orange Stage jumbotrons. He was another act that I thought would get ‘lost in translation’ at Roskilde, but his low-key, ambling guitar pop seems to fit everyone here to a T.

After the cut: this review of day 4 continued with more photos.

Continue reading Roskilde Festival: Day 4 Roundup

 

Roskilde Festival: Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 21st July 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

A helpful hint about music festivals: try as you may to see every single band you’ve ticked off the set schedule weeks before you’ve even set foot on the property, you’re going to miss some, because you’re either 1) hungry, 2) thirsty, 3) drunk or 4) just plain tired. While I admit to succumbing to #2 (it was hot, much hotter than it normally is in Denmark) and #4 (the only explanation for Day 2’s epic oversleep), all things considered I was in pretty good shape for Saturday, especially after getting to bed at a decent hour the night before.

I already knew Saturday at Roskilde was going to be a long day. So this time I checked, double-checked, and triple-checked that the alarm clock on my mobile was properly set before going to bed the night before. After filling up on a massive breakfast of several soft-boiled eggs, too many slices of cold cuts that tasted suspiciously (in a good way) of liverwurst and several cups of strong tea, I headed back to the festival. First up on the agenda was the Rumour Said Fire, a Copenhagen indie rock band officially ‘sanctioned’ by the festival organisers themselves by virtue of being the one band chosen to be official guest bloggers for the festival. Think Fleet Foxes and Mumford and Sons. Pretty good stuff.

They were followed by another local favourite duo, the Asteroids Galaxy Tour and their touring band. The only difference: the Asteroids Galaxy Tour are now world-famous and travel all over the globe. Even you, dear reader, are likely to have heard of them. The festival organisers are quick to point out that this is a band that started out on the emerging artists line-up of Pavilion Junior years ago and now are a global success. Blonde lead singer Mette Lindberg was radiant in hot pink and gold sequins, belting out the duo’s starry-eyed, soulful, psychedelic hits like ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine No More’ and ‘Around the Bend’. Amazing to see them to play to their home audience, Lindberg looking overwhelmed by the marvelous crowd response.

After the cut: this review of day 3 continued with more photos.

Continue reading Roskilde Festival: Day 3 Roundup

 
 
 

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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.

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