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SXSW 2015: Thursday night adventures with artists both familiar and new – 19th March 2015

 
By on Tuesday, 7th April 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

The Thursday night of SXSW 2015 turned out to be a mixed bag for me, as it was one of those evenings when things didn’t exactly go according to plan. In the end, all was well that ended well, and I came away feeling satisfied with the way the night played out.

After my jaunt over to the Driskill Hotel where I saw the enchanting singer/songwriter Josh Savage and caught up with him for a brief chat, I hurried back to the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, which was by now beginning to feel like a second home. I turned up there for the Ben Sherman / UKTI showcase just in time to see Dry the River begin their set, though the venue was so crowded that I had a hard time finding a good vantage point to watch them from.

Dry the River at British Music Embassy 19 March 2015

Unlike their curtailed set at the Transgressive Records showcase on the Tuesday night, Dry the River played in their full band arrangement here, and their songs were well-received by the crowd. The plaintive tunes and delicate harmonies I had heard from the band at Buffalo Billiards were transformed here into dynamic, hard-edged rock anthems, though I was pleased to hear that their folk sensibilities weren’t entirely obliterated by the increased size of their sound. When the band reached the end of its allotted time, there were a few vain cries for more from the front of the stage, an outcome that brought a smile to my face and was surely more satisfactory for Dry the River as well.

Dry the River at British Music Embassy 19 March 2015

Next on the set list at the British Music Embassy was a band who are of at least peripheral interest to us here at TGTF, namely Black Rivers. Principal Black Rivers members Jez and Andy Williams were (are?) part of Manchester trio Doves, whose track ‘There Goes the Fear’ gave this Web site its name. Appearing here with a full four-piece set up, Black Rivers appeared to have some problems in their brief soundcheck, in the end playing only four songs once their set actually started. Even so, we heard enough of their heavily rhythmic, guitar-laden sound to permanently distinguish the Williams’ new project from their former band.

Black Rivers at British Music Embassy 19 March 2015

At the end of Black Rivers’ set, I beelined out of Latitude 30 and made a mad dash to the Mohawk, hoping to catch American folk-soul singer Matthew E. White. I arrived at the venue with time to spare, but unfortunately for me, so had a long queue of other hopeful punters, and I was left to listen to the faraway strains of White’s recent single ‘Rock & Roll is Cold’ from the sidewalk outside.

At this point, I had a few backup options to consider. The Dodos at Cheer Up Charlie’s? Frank Turner at the Red 7 Patio? Both were tempting, but I’d just seen them the day before, and I was in the mood for something new. I consulted the handy SXSW GO app on my smartphone to see what else was going on around downtown and almost immediately hit on a winner. Natalie Prass, another American singer/songwriter and a Spacebomb Records labelmate of Matthew E. White, was playing in the cozy downstairs venue at Maggie Mae’s. As luck would have it, I had time for a leisurely walk to Maggie Mae’s before Prass was scheduled to begin at midnight, and I happened to walk past Cheer Up Charlie’s while The Dodos were playing ‘Competition’, sounding as fresh as when I’d heard them on Wednesday’s Dine Alone Records showcase.

Natalie Prass at Maggie Mae's 19 March 2015

I arrived early at Maggie Mae’s and found the downstairs venue nearly empty, though it filled in quickly after I had positioned myself in front of the stage. Starting her set from a seated position at the keyboard, Prass slowly drew in her audience with a sultry mix of torch-song romanticism and blues-rock grit. She kept her short set lively throughout, alternately flirting with her admiring crowd and showing off her admirable guitar chops. But I was most impressed with the clear tone and finely-tuned inflections of her singing voice, which reminded me very much of alt-country singer Caitlin Rose. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Prass’ left-handed bass player, pictured below, who plays his instrument upside down in the style of Jimi Hendrix. After my impromptu stop at Maggie Mae’s, I’ll be certain to arrive early to another gig later this month at the Rialto Theatre in Tucson, where Prass is scheduled to open for Ryan Adams.

Natalie Prass' left-handed bass player at SXSW 2015

I said a quick hello to Prass as she packed up her gear from the stage, then I headed down 6th Street to Esther’s Follies, a familiar venue from last year where I’d caught Gabby Young and Cocos Lovers. This year I aimed to see an equally lively band that I’ve always liked on recording but had never seen live, Washington, DC trio Jukebox the Ghost. Their latest self-titled album is rife with the band’s signature upbeat melodious pop and simple lyrics that are by turns quirky and thought-provoking. Their set at Esther’s Follies was equally ebullient and idiosyncratic, featuring new songs ‘Sound of a Broken Heart and ‘The Great Unknown’ among older crowd favourites like ‘Oh, Emily’ from 2012 LP ‘Safe Travels’.

Jukebox the Ghost at Esther's Follies 19 March 2015

The enthusiastic crowd gathered at Esther’s Follies on the night were clearly fans of the band, engaging them with shouted requests and one-liners and laughing at a few inside jokes that I must admit I didn’t understand. But the punters around me didn’t seem to mind my unfamiliarity; in fact, they encouraged me to put down my camera and dance. I happily obliged and was soon grinning from ear-to-ear at Jukebox the Ghost’s zany stage antics and their infectiously peppy performance. Unfortunately they ended their set without playing my personal favourite of their tracks, ‘Adulthood’, because co-lead singer Ben Thornewill was losing his voice. But fear not, I won’t disappoint my readers the same way; you can stream the audio for ‘Adulthood’ just below.

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

 

SXSW 2015 Interview: Scott Miller and Jon Warren of Dry the River

 
By on Wednesday, 1st April 2015 at 11:00 am
 

I spent the Tuesday night of SXSW 2015 at Buffalo Billiards, where Transgressive Records held its 10th Anniversary showcase, featuring among several other bands London folk-rock quartet Dry the River. In the middle of the showcase, between sets by Gengahr and Songhoy Blues, I was able to sit down for a chat with the rhythm section of Dry the River, which comprises bassist Scott Miller and drummer Jon Warren, who previously answered Mary’s Quickfire Questions back in February. (Read their answers here.) I had been told by Dry The River’s manager that Miller and Warren were the “outspoken” members of the band, and his assessment proved to be true in the course of our lively conversation, which is streaming below.

The band were in town for their third SXSW Music Festival, and both Miller and Warren professed a love for Austin as well as an affinity for road-tripping through America while on tour. Dry the River are currently in the middle of a massive touring cycle for their second album ‘Alarms of the Heart’, which will include live dates in Europe as well as a scheduled appearance at Live at Leeds 2015 in May.

During the course of our interview, I asked Miller and Warren about Dry the River’s schedule of shows during SXSW, and they mentioned that they had both full band shows and smaller acoustic sessions lined up for the week. In a rather unfortunate coincidence, I expressed my interest in hearing them play an acoustic set, which is what ended up happening on the night of the Transgressive show when problems with the sound equipment forced them to switch from their full band set up to an impromptu unplugged session. But Dry the River bravely soldiered on, and I was able to hear them play a full set later in the week at the British Music Embassy; watch TGTF for my Thursday night recap, which will include that show. You can read my review of the Tuesday night Transgressive Records showcase right here.

Thanks again to Chris for arranging this interview.

 

SXSW 2015: Transgressive Records showcase – 17th March 2015

 
By on Monday, 30th March 2015 at 10:00 am
 

On the first official night of the SXSW 2015 Music festival, I attended the Transgressive Records 10th anniversary showcase at Buffalo Billiards in downtown Austin. I had never been inside Buffalo Billiards before, after a failed attempt to get in for a show during last year’s festival, and I didn’t realize how large the venue was. It has a downstairs bar area, the main stage area upstairs, and a mid-level landing between the two. It was nice not being rammed into a tiny club for what was sure to be a popular show with Spring King, Gengahr, Songhoy Blues and Dry the River on the scheduled lineup.

However, the spaciousness of the venue did present a slight problem for me as I attempted to meet up with members of Gengahr and Dry the River for interviews we had previously scheduled via e-mail and text. As we had never met in person, it proved a bit tricky for us all to actually find one another in the club and then find a quiet place to sit down for a chat. In the end, both interviews were accomplished between stage sets, and I was able to listen to all four bands as well. But the interview meet-ups turned out to be the least of what would be a series of technical difficulties surrounding my experience at the Transgressive Records showcase.

First on the docket for the show was Manchester garage rock quartet Spring King, whose lead singer Tarek Musa is also their drummer, so I’m not sure if it’s entirely appropriate to refer to him as the band’s frontman. I’m even less sure about the phrase “garage rock” after reading on the Transgressive Records Web site that the band’s first EP ‘Demons’ was recorded not in a garage, but in a converted bathroom. While Spring King definitely have a grungy, lo-fi quality to their sound, they also have a strong sense of propulsive momentum and energy.

Even from his position in the center back of the stage, Musa engaged easily with the audience, and Spring King played a tight and enthusiastic set to start the showcase. ‘Better Man’ from the ‘Demons’ EP was particularly well-received, as was recent single ‘City’, which will be released on the band’s new EP ‘They’re Coming After You’, due out in the UK on the 20th of April. (You can watch the live video of Spring King playing ‘City’ at the BBC Introducing night Wednesday on editor Mary’s review of that showcase here.)

Spring King at Transgressive showcase 17 March 2015

Following Spring King were the heavily-hyped indie rock band Gengahr, whom I’d had the opportunity to talk with before the start of the showcase. Their soft-spoken demeanor in the interview turned out to be very much in tune with the vibe of their performance on the night, which came across as quite introverted and understated after Spring King’s lively set. Gengahr’s atmospheric psych pop might not have been the best fit for the mood of this particular room, but their set was politely received by the crowd of people filtering in and out of the stage area. The performance included three songs from ‘She’s a Witch’, Gengahr’s current American EP release (the tracks have been released as singles in the UK), including the title track seen in the video below.

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

After Gengahr finished their set, I ducked out again to talk with members of Dry the River, who were due to play last on the lineup. I came back just in time to catch Malian breakout band Songhoy Blues, who released their album ‘Music in Exile’ back in February on Transgressive. The stage area, which had seemed fairly spacious up to this point, was positively rammed with punters who were eager to see the hotly-tipped world musicians, and Songhoy Blues didn’t disappoint. They played an exuberant set for their SXSW debut, their songs blending blues rock instrumentation with traditional Malian rhythm and vocals as lead singer Aliou Toure (pictured in the header photo above) entranced the crowd with his genial smile and commanding stage presence. Take a listen to their track ‘Al Hassidi Terei’, streaming just below.

As the audience collectively took a moment to catch its breath after Songhoy Blues’ incredible performance, things began to unravel a bit for London folk-rock band Dry the River. They began their stage set up and soundcheck, only to discover just before they were about to start that something was seriously awry with the sound equipment. I never found out exactly what the problem was, but in the end Dry the River weren’t able to play their full set. They did agree to do a few tunes in unplugged fashion instead, moving from the stage onto the mid-level landing and actually starting to play before being interrupted by a Buffalo Billiards staff member who told them they couldn’t have the audience gathered there due to fire code restrictions.

They moved once again to the back corner of the main venue, their audience obediently trailing behind, and struck a position atop their large gear boxes to begin the impromptu acoustic set. While Dry the River’s folk-tinged rock and three-part vocal harmonies translate beautifully to acoustic performance, their disappointment in not being able to play a full stage set was very much evident as frontman Peter Liddle, guitarist Matthew Taylor and bassist Scott Miller somewhat reluctantly obliged us with four quick songs before heading back to the stage to help drummer Jon Warren pack up their unused gear. Before I left the venue I said a quick good-bye to Miller, whom I’d met earlier in the evening, assuring him that I would catch them later in the week when they were scheduled to play at the British Music Embassy. If you’re interested in Dry the River, be sure to check back here later this week for my Thursday night coverage, which will include that more successful performance.

Despite the evening’s difficulties, the Transgressive showcase left me with an impression of four up-and-coming bands who are clearly headed for success in the near future. We’ll almost certainly be hearing more from them here at TGTF as the summer festival season approaches, so be sure to check back with us for further release information and live dates, as well as our interviews with Gengahr and Dry the River.

 

(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #80: Jon Warren of Dry the River

 
By on Wednesday, 4th February 2015 at 11:00 am
 

For the next couple of weeks leading up to SXSW 2015 just as we did last year, we’ll be running a special version of the TGTF Quickfire Questions, served up SXSW style with an extra couple of questions to get inside bands’ and artists’ heads so they’ll tell us what they really think of the event. In the first of these, drummer Jon Warren of London alt-rockers Dry the River tells us about what he’s most looking to on their return to Austin and we learn how Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno have figured into his life.

You can revisit Carrie’s piece on the Dry the River story so far here.

SXSW-related questions:

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
Eating a buffalo chicken sandwich at Bikinis (sports bar) whilst watching the mayhem unfold on 6th Street.

Of the bands who have already been announced, do you have any that are must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
Genghar, great band from the UK and recent tour buddies of ours. They talk a lot, smoke a lot and drink a lot and they look good doing it.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
Slippers: you can never be too comfortable on tour.

If we happen to run into you in a bar, we’d like to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
Thanks, mine’s a Jameson’s on ice.

What advice would you give other bands who have never played at SXSW before?
Expect the unexpected and don’t take yourself too seriously. See as much music as you can and if you’re invited to a party, GO.

Then it’s on to our usual TGTF Quickfire Questions:

What song is your earliest musical memory?
My Dad playing ‘You Can Call Me Al’ by Paul Simon almost continuously for about 2 years.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uq-gYOrU8bA[/youtube]

What was your favourite song as a child?
‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson, it’s my favourite song as an adult too. [Michael Jackson has been quite popular among our Quickfire Question answerers. – Ed.]

What song makes you laugh?
‘You’re the Voice’ by John Farnham; it’s comical how incredible that chorus is, I challenge anyone to not crack a smile when that kicks in.

What song makes you cry?
‘Open Arms’ by Journey. Steve Perry could make Chuck Norris cry with that performance.

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
‘L.O.V.E. Machine’ by W.A.S.P. I’m not sure I lived up to the lyrics.

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
Any song by GG Allin; it makes you realise you’re never going to be as angry as that guy was.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
‘Illumination Theory’ by Dream Theater: 22 minutes of pure prog excellence, it goes down great at parties.

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

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Mick Jones from Foreigner; people think I’m joking, but every one of their songs is a hit record.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I like the idea of a saucier, so that, I guess.

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
I’d turn my back, grab a copy of ‘Holy Diver’ by Dio and march straight down to Hell.

Many thanks to Jon for answering our questions! Catch Dry the River in Austin and in February and March on tour in England.

 

(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #337: Dry the River

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd February 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

London alt-rock quartet Dry the River released their latest album of new material ‘Alarms in the Heart’ on the 25th of August last year via Transgressive Records. Recorded in Iceland, the album is Dry the River’s second full-length LP, following their 2012 debut ‘Shallow Bed’, which was released in both a full studio format and the acoustic version reviewed by our own Martin. Last summer, we here at TGTF featured a complete stream of ‘Alarms in the Heart’ as well as the video documentary of its recording process.

Dry the River combines the heavy guitars and drums of typical alt-rock with a folk-oriented focus on lyricism, vocal harmonisation and expanded instrumentation. Lead singer Peter Liddle alternates seamlessly between a fluttering falsetto and a grittier full-voiced timbre, his voice matching equally well with the lighter acoustic moments and the broadly expansive instrumental crescendos. Band members Liddle (guitar, lead vocals), Matthew Taylor (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Scott Miller (bass, percussion, vocals) and Jon Warren (drums, percussion) were until recently joined by violinist Will Harvey, who left the band just after ‘Alarms in the Heart’ was completed. Harvey’s absence surely poses an interesting challenge for the band, as his bowed string underpinnings were key to the folk quality of their sound, particularly on older songs like ‘Bible Belt’.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/J4EoNZQ0reI[/youtube]

The newer material on ‘Alarms in the Heart’ does lean more heavily toward rock than folk, with stronger emphasis on pounding drums and power chords, but the emotional, often Romantic quality of the lyrics is still present, along with the vocal harmonies and the exquisite dynamic variation in the instrumental arrangements. Early singles ‘Gethsemane’ and ‘Everlasting Light’ were released last summer ahead of the album proper. Both are centered around darkly brooding lyrics, but where ‘Gethsemane’ is slow and melancholic (“it started with the moon that turned an inexpensive room into St. Peter’s / there’s a parabolic story but it’s boring and it ends how you’d expect”), the sharply concise ‘Everlasting Light’ feels a bit more like a true radio single with its wailing guitar riff and repeated chorus, “I had my reasons at the time / I had my reasons at the time / something in the state of mind / oh, everlasting light”.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/C4XynrxpDI8[/youtube]

The album’s current single ‘Rollerskate’ starts off with a slightly brighter sound, but its chorus quickly descends into a dark angst, culminating in the spine-tingling coda of Liddle’s repeated “I couldn’t want you more than this”. The song’s accompanying video feels singularly appropriate for Dry the River’s upcoming tour plans, as it features up close looks at the band members backstage, onstage and mingling post-show with their fans.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/2tg-yGZkcKA[/youtube]

Dry the River will embark on a set of English tour dates in mid-February before heading across the pond for a few warm up shows ahead of their scheduled appearance at SXSW 2015 in March. A full listing of upcoming tour dates can be found on the band’s official Web site.

 

Dry the River / February and March 2015 English Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 27th January 2015 at 9:00 am
 

Dry the River have announced a run of English tour dates leading into the release of their new single ‘Rollerskate’, which is due out on the 9th of March via Transgressive. The single comes from their recent second album ‘Alarms In The Heart’, and the new live dates follow successful runs in both the UK and North America last autumn. Tickets for the following newly announced shows are available now.

Stay tuned for more TGTF coverage of Dry the River as part of the scheduled lineup for SXSW 2015.

Thursday 19th February 2015 – Wakefield Unity Works
Friday 20th February 2015 – Warwick University
Saturday 21st February 2015 – Birmingham Rainbow
Sunday 22nd February 2015 – Nottingham Bodega
Monday 23rd February 2015 – Sheffield Leadmill
Wednesday 25th February 2015 – Reading Bowery District
Thursday 26th February 2015 – Bristol Marble Factory
Friday 27th February 2015 – Swansea Sin City
Saturday 28th February 2015 – Perranporth Watering Hole
Monday 2nd March 2015 – Gloucester Guildhall
Tuesday 3rd March 2015 – Brighton Concorde 2
Wednesday 4th March 2015 – Norwich Arts Centre

 
 
 

About Us

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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