Looking for previews and reviews of SXSW 2019? Right this way.

SXSW 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2018 | 2015 | 2013 | 2012

Don't forget to like There Goes the Fear on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

SXSW 2019: the second half of Music From Ireland’s Full Irish Breakfast and two acts at the British Music Embassy – 15th March 2019 (Friday, part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 2nd April 2019 at 1:00 pm
 

Changes are to coming to the the British Music Embassy in 2020 but as no news about them has been made public, you’ll have to wait until next year (hopefully not that long?) to hear about them. What has been great in the 8 years in a row I’ve attended SXSW is the close proximity of Latitude 30 to B.D. Riley’s Irish pub, which has played host to Music From Ireland’s annual full Irish breakfast day showcase. As long as there’s no queue to get into either place, you theoretically could see 8 or more bands in a span of less than 3 hours. I tested out this theory again Friday afternoon in Austin.

Following on from their energetic performance the night previous at Music From Ireland’s official evening showcase at the Velveeta Room, I was curious to see how whenyoung would fare when subjected to the sun streaming in from the open windows at B.D. Riley’s. Neither I nor the rest of the patrons at the Irish pub would be disappointed. And what better to enjoy emerging new Irish music than with a pint of Guinness?

whenyoung Full Irish Breakfast SXSW 2019 1

‘Pretty Pure’ was emblazoned in red lipstick on the back of guitarist Niall Burns’ white jumpsuit at the Velveeta. The song itself begins with a bright guitar note sequence reminiscent of the Vaselines’ ‘Molly’s Lips’ before continuing on in fine pop fashion. Their debut 7” with Felix White of the Maccabees’ YALA! Records is an energetic wonderful first taster to anyone new to the Limerick band. Bassist Aoife Power’s lead vocals have the duality of sweetness and dynamism, an interesting juxtaposition against an instrumental backdrop of fun and strength. Another fast-paced track, ‘Given Up’, is a workout for the senses, drummer Andrew Flood in his eyeliner hitting his skins like this life depended on it.

I popped out after their set to check out Westerman at British Music Embassy. Sadly, the thoughtful, soft-singing London singer/songwriter whose first name is Will but goes by his surname was nowhere to be seen. His bandmate apologised that Westerman would be unable to perform. Based on this Facebook post, his SXSW appearances earlier in the week in Austin took it all out of him. Admirably, his bandmates soldiered on without him, one of them assuming lead vocal duties in his absence. Full marks there. I have to admit that I’m a purist and decided to duck back out, deciding I wanted to see him perform as nature intended in the future instead.

Returning to B.D. Riley’s, I finally corrected a mistake made at Canadian Music Week 2016. Because of the large distances between venues in Toronto and suffering from a bad cold while in Canada, I missed Dublin’s Fangclub when they performed at the Music From Ireland show at the Rivoli. In hindsight, I think this was destiny. Phwoar. It wasn’t until after I became a music blogger that I truly realised the blessing in disguise I received as a child. Growing up in the presence of a much older brother who schooled me in the music of Led Zeppelin, the Who, Pink Floyd and Megadeth gave me an education that went beyond the British Invasion basics I’d researched on my age on my own before the age of 10. Later on in life, he gifted me with his 5-string ESP bass. In the context of my hard rock upbringing, Fangclub were a 21st century revelation.

Fangclub Full Irish Breakfast SXSW 2019 2

My favourite hard rock bands have always been those who can harness the sheer power of guitars and drums but direct them into a toe-tapping, headbangingly good time. Bonus points if the singer also sounds like he (or she) is shredding vocal chords. The blistering instrumental delivery of ‘Knife’, with Stephen King screaming “twist the knife” in the context of a romantic obsession…you had to have been there. As non sequitur this music was performed on a sunny, warm day in Austin, there is no denying the sheer testosterone-filled brawn of this band. Wipe your brow, son.

I hung around at the pub for a bit longer to catch part of Kojaque’s set. After only a few bars of verse, I knew I was out of my depth when it came to the Dublin rapper whose name is pronounced but not spelled like the famous detective played by Telly Savalas. I have trouble providing a useful review of the Irish hip-hop artist, joined onstage by a smiley musical friend and some lounge-y backing tracks. Having made a new friend with a music lover from Newcastle, we agreed that this kind of music wasn’t made for people our age. Kevin Smith, I know you’ve got loads of adoring fans your age or younger and you must be extremely talented in both music and the visual arts. Sorry, this just isn’t for me.

https://flic.kr/p/2fhZz2C]Kojaque Full Irish Breakfast SXSW 2019 1

I must have been in the 0.1% of the music-loving world who had never seen Fontaines D.C. live up to this point. I’d been poked and prodded by friends for weeks leading up to SXSW, well-meaning friends who implored me to see them live. I’m no dummy. Music editors hear all the hype and unfortunately for hyped bands, unless I’ve heard about you independently of said hype, I am probably going to come to your show with a jaundiced editor’s ear. If you know me at all, you know I prefer to fight for the underdogs, the little guy.

Fontaines DC Full Irish Breakfast SXSW 2019 2

Fontaines D.C, who had been announced as IDLES’ North American support long before receiving their shout for SXSW 2019, fell into this category. Arriving with so much fanfare even before they stepped foot in Austin, I knew they didn’t need my help. Maybe it was where I was sat? They sounded loud, muddled and without anything that set them apart from the crowded current UK punk market. I sat through two songs before I’d had enough. Hey, I am nothing but accommodating! We could see Sam Fender and his band peeking his head through an open window. I’m not going to stay in a venue when people are just chomping at the bit to get inside.

Elder Island British Music Embassy Friday SXSW 2019

It was time to return to the British Music Embassy to rinse out the ol’ music editor ears. I’d seen SXSW 2019 TGTF Band to Watch Elder Island in the decidedly more clinical confines of the International Day stage on Wednesday, were set to close Latitude 30 for the afternoon. The Bristol trio who thrive on turning their music and everyone in the room on their head turned out another excellent performance. The sultry ‘Black Fur’, which is actually about singer Katy Sargent’s dearly departed late cat (tuck that piece of pub trivia away), was a bluesy tour de force. ‘I Fold You’, featuring their super cool electric cello, wowed their new fans, bopped heads and moved bodies. While I regret not having seen them at Bungalow that night at Majestic Casual’s showcase, I feel incredibly lucky to have seen them on Wednesday and at this show. Elder Island do Bristol and his rave-loving history proud.

 

SXSW 2019: Balún, Elder Island, The Dunts, The Joy Formidable and Sway – 13th March 2019 (Wednesday, part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 26th March 2019 at 1:00 pm
 

An often criminally overlooked part of SXSW are the Radio Day and International Day stages on the 4th floor of the convention center. If you have ever attended SXSW as a badge-carrying delegate, I am sure you have walked by these rooms and never considered stopping to catch any of the bands. There was no contest which band on these stages had the most fan turnout on these two stage. That award goes to ‘90s giants Broken Social Scene, who appeared Friday afternoon and had a queue of fans going down the length of the convention center long before they even took the stage – I implore you to stop by in future iterations of SXSW to catch up-and-coming talent.

Two of the Bands to Watch I previewed before heading to Austin had prominent slots on the International Day stage, which in theory freed me up from trying to see them in the crush at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 later in the week. (You’ll see how that panned out later.) First, though, I found myself with some free time and a free Coke from the press lounge, so I ducked in to see Balún gracing the KCRW and NPR-sponsored Alt Latino showcase at the Radio Day stage. They are based in Brooklyn (insert your favourite indie band joke about Brooklyn here) but are originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico. They were the perfect pick-me-up to jolt me into life after my 4 AM wake-up call.

The glasses-wearing, synth-driven indie group with unusual-to-rock instruments such as accordion and violin have managed to successfully marry the digital age with their Caribbean roots. ‘Prisma Tropical’, their second studio album released late last year, is Balún’s expression of their self-described dreambow genre. Rhythmically unmistakeably Latino and with frontwoman Angélica Negrón’s ethereal vocals, this is a group doing the Latin American diaspora in America proud and making music that keeps them connected to the country they felt they had to leave in order to access different opportunities.

Following Balún, it was a quick mosey to the International Day stage where Elder Island were just setting up. The Bristolian trio are part of the proud current wave of emerging artists keen on pushing the envelope beyond the traditional genres of independent music. Their debut album, the self-released ‘The Omnitone Sound’, came out last month, a beguiling mix of Katy Sargent’s r&b-inflected lead vocals and cello, guitars, synths and beats probably best exemplified by the driving ‘You and I’. 2 PM might not be ideal for a show more appropriate for a dark club filled with bodies bumping, but Elder Island did a great job in bringing that feeling to the room, eliciting more than a few instances of chair-dancing. You can read my past Bands to Watch feature through this link.

My next stop was to catch The Dunts at the British Music Embassy. As was true all week, the afternoon showcases proved to be a better bet in my mind than their evening ones, and the queues to get in were proof of this. For my money, Glasgow is one of the more interesting centres for new music these days. It has been able to support an incredible range of genres and artists who can all coexist and support each other with nonexistent infighting. Must be the water or the Tennent’s. The Scottish punks, along with their band best friends Rascalton, were unable to secure funding to travel to SXSW 2019 through normal channels, so in typical ingenious Scottish fashion, they came up with limited edition swag including a black Dunts football-style shirt to sell their fans to help finance their trip. (We’re all too late for that shirt, I’m afraid. Damn it.)

Their efforts appear to have paid off. On a 25 degree C spring day that might have led some Texans astray after the awful winter they had, locals and industry jam-packed Latitude 30 to welcome them. ‘Self Proclaimed Council Punk’ isn’t just an EP title, it’s a state of mind. None of their songs overstay their welcome: the intent appears to be to play loud and fast, with barely a breath in between for themsevles or whoever is watching them. This is not music for the faint-hearted. The feeling of two fingers’ immediacy is inescapable. No matter how old you are, you will leave a Dunts gig feeling more alive than you have in a long time.

I spent a brief interlude down on Rainey Street to check out some of the craziness during daylight hours. The armadillo-mobile was out again as last year but had to share the streets with a couple on stilts dressed like flamingoes. I like pink, but you’re never gonna get me to wear a pink bird on my head. Clive Bar was turned into a temporary carnival sponsored by Showtime, with a balloon artist, photo booth and popcorn and cotton candy vendor. Walking back into the centre of town with a large tuft of delicious, s’mores-flavoured cotton candy in hand felt like winning. I returned, making the mistake that I could just walk in for the Joy Formidable’s set at the British Music Embassy. Whoops.

Really, though, my job is done when a band I’ve written about a lot has filled a venue to heaving, right? As is usual with Latitude 30 during SXSW, the windows were flung open, affording us poor souls who couldn’t get in the opportunity to hear ‘The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade’ even if we couldn’t be in the same room with them. Hearing the final track of ‘The Big Roar’ reminds me of a time in my life when I got my heart broken. This song was my salvation, telling me with absolute certainty that one day I’d stop wanting to kick the guy and instead wish him well with the rest of his life with the woman he eventually chose over me. As the Welsh band’s wall of sound reverberated far beyond the confines of Latitude 30, I felt happy how far I’ve come to that moment and thankful I had friends who got me out of that dark place.

To set myself up for a night of running around the city to be preceded by drinks with the Focus Wales crew, I decided to get dinner at Stella San Jac. The restaurant attached to the Westin has become a firm favourite of mine for food and drink while in Austin. At the bar, I ordered what now will probably be my usual there, the fried avocado salad. Don’t knock it until you try it. I was expecting a low-profile supper, served by some very cute bartenders. What I didn’t expect was being sat next to a man drinking a bartender-recommended tipple. He looked familiar but in an effort to play it cool in case it wasn’t who I thought it was, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked sotto voce.

What ensued was a delightfully impromptu conversation about social media with the uber cool Sway Calloway, who I first came across as a hip-hop correspondent on MTV nearly 2 decades ago. Nowadays, Sway is the coolest of the cool cats, taking his own background as a rapper and radio experience and continuing to be a force of pop culture on his Sirius XM radio show Sway in the Morning. The verdict of our conversation? Neither of us will ever be as great with social media as kids are, but that’s okay. I was reminded of Lance Bass’ talk earlier that day where he talked about the importance of being authentic. If a old fogey like me being old school is wrong, then I don’t want to be right!

 

(SXSW 2019 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #413: Elder Island

 
By on Tuesday, 12th February 2019 at 12:00 pm
 

When I first started blogging 10 years ago, bands with the word ‘bear’ in their name was a thing. Now it seems that the buzz word is ‘island’. (See my review last week of Low Island’s ‘In Person’.) The word ‘island’ conjures up individuality, but at the expense of isolation. Elder Island, named after a real place in Canada, are an electronic-driven trio who prove that isolation used as a means for indie bands to carefully create their art can be successful. The like-minded friends who were all studying art in Bristol have been steadily moving forward with their experimental music side gig over the last 6 years. 2019 is set to be Elder Island’s year, their time in the limelight, and congratulations are in order, and not just for their all-important shout to SXSW 2019. Last Friday, they self-released their debut album ‘The Omnitone Collection’.

They showed early promise on ‘Golden’, appearing on their 2016 ‘Seeds in Sand’ EP. You can understand the track’s origin, used as a transitional, loose point in our set where we could just let go a little”, as you get caught up in its beguiling vibrations. Katy Sargent’s vocals, stretched and echoey, act more like another electronic part layered on top of synthesisers. From the new LP, the first taster revealed to the wild was the rhythmically-mesmerising ‘Don’t Lose’. On it, their ability to pen a catchy tune is written all over it, and Sargent’s vocals have less effects put on it than on the EP, which make them more human. The accompanying promo video is a playful visual of how deft they are in transforming what could be techie electronic elements into parts totally accessible once incorporated into a pop song. Electronics aren’t just for nerds who that love them. These days, those who can use them in tandem with good songwriting are in good position indeed.

 
 
 

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 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.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Learn More About Us