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

SXSW 2019 | 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 2018: Wrapping up with a final conference session and Saturday evening showcases – 17th March 2018

 
By on Thursday, 3rd May 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Editor Mary and I started our final day at SXSW 2018 with a leisurely brunch, but we both had a full schedule of options for Saturday afternoon and evening. (You can read Mary’s Saturday recaps here and here.) I decided in the moment to play the day by ear, and my rather uncharacteristic spontaneity paid off in the form of several new-to-me acts, which I very much enjoyed.

Metzer internal

Before I set out to hear any live music, I did attend one last conference session at the Austin Convention Center. As a connoisseur of the singer/songwriter genre, I couldn’t pass up University of British Columbia musicologist David Metzer‘s discussion titled ‘Ballads: A History of Emotions in Popular Culture’. Here, Metzer explored the ballad’s changing role in popular music from the 1950s to the present, highlighting listeners’ growing desire “to experience feelings in bigger and bolder ways” and performers’ stylistic tendency to emote in increasingly virtuosic fashion. The presentation was necessarily brief, and Metzer used a simple but effective comparison between Whitney Houston’s iconic performance of ‘I Will Always Love You’ and Dolly Parton’s original version to make his point. True music nerds like myself can find a more expanded discussion in Metzer’s book, ‘The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to Beyoncé’, which I promptly ordered when I returned home from Austin the next day.

Harry Pane internal

After a quick walk around the Trade Expo and a celebratory green cocktail for St. Patrick’s Day, Mary and I both had time to check out SXSW’s Second Play Stages, which feature official Showcasing Artists playing acoustic “happy hour” shows in the lounges of downtown Austin hotels. These shows are casual and quite intimate, with small crowds gathered in close and passersby stopping to listen at the fringes. I chose the Hilton’s Cannon & Bell lounge, where English singer/songwriter Harry Pane was playing his final set of the week. Pane was both relaxed and engaging on the small stage, and his songs were candidly emotional in this stripped back setting. His performance of ‘Fletcher Bay’, written after a trip to New Zealand with his late father, was particularly moving. You can have a listen to a similar live performance courtesy of London Live Sessions just below.

After a quick post-show interview with Pane (which will publish on TGTF in the coming days), I headed to Barracuda, whose two stages were hosting the combined Artist Group International and Xtra Mile Recordings showcase. While there would undoubtedly be a larger crowd later in the evening, when British folk-punk artists Skinny Lister and Frank Turner were slated to play the outdoor stage, the mood was mellow in both venues when I arrived for the beginning of the night’s set list.

Many Rooms internal

First on the outdoor stage was Houston singer/songwriter Brianna Hunt, performing under the moniker Many Rooms. The audience was thin at this point in the evening, and Hunt’s muted demeanor on stage didn’t attract the punters’ attention straightaway, but as her set continued, the fragile beauty of her songs gradually drew focus to the stage. Many Rooms’ debut album ‘There is a Presence Here’ is available now on Other People Records; you can listen to album track ‘which is to say, everything’ just through here.

Non Canon internal

Between sets on the outdoor stage, I peeked inside to catch a couple of songs from Allman Brown, who had caught my attention earlier in the week, while I waited to hear English folk singer Non Canon. Non Canon is the mildly pretentious stage name of singer/songwriter Barry Dolan, who describes the term as “anything [that] exists apart from the story we know and love”. His music is true to that description, pairing obscure literary allusions with pop culture references in an odd, but ultimately thought-provoking way. Though his set here was stripped back to voice and guitar, his recordings feature a fuller array of instrumental sounds and unusual harmonic variations, as evidenced in ‘Splinter of the Mind’s Eye’.

The remainder of the Barracuda lineup included The RPMs (who Mary saw the previous afternoon) and Will Varley, as well as the aforementioned Skinny Lister and Frank Turner. As I had seen the latter three recently (Varley and Skinny Lister in February at Phoenix’s Valley Bar, and Turner on Thursday evening), I decided to head to the Parish, which was hosting British indie label Bella Union.

Field Division internal

As we’ve mentioned in the past, Bella Union is a sure bet for high quality songwriting and musicianship, but also for music that is a bit off-the-beaten-path. Their Saturday night showcase at the Parish was no different. I missed indie pop songwriter Ari Roar, but arrived in time to catch American folk duo Field Division. On the surface, this pair, comprised of Evelyn Taylor and Nicholas Frampton, is yet another in a long string of Laurel Canyon-influenced artists, but on closer listening, their powerful lyrics and sharp instrumental arrangements create a deeper and more tangible sonic presence. Keep an eye out for their debut LP ‘Dark Matter Dreams’, which is due for release on the 22nd of June and features the propulsive motion of ‘River in Reverse’.

Hilang Child internal

More subdued but nonetheless hypnotic, electronic dream pop artist Hilang Child (aka Ed Riman) took the stage next and dazzled the growing audience with his effortless vocals and deftly textured instrumental layers. His carefully crafted soundscapes are replete with splendid dynamic and harmonic colour, which fill in and expand beautifully upon his delicately poetic lyrics. Hilang Child’s standout track ‘Growing Things’ will feature on his upcoming debut LP, which is due out later this year.

Tiny Ruins

New Zealand folk band Tiny Ruins has evolved from the solo work of frontwoman Hollie Fullbrook into a full four-piece ensemble, though they were represented in Austin by only two of their number, Fullbrook and bassist Cass Basil. Their thoughtful folk songs were mesmerising with just the pair of them, but they added another dimension of rhythmic interest when drummer Jim White joined them on stage midway through their set. Tiny Ruins’ third album is due out on Bella Union later this year; in the meantime, take a listen to the subtle yet exquisite ‘Me at the Museum, You in the Wintergardens’, courtesy of Flying Nun Records.

Xylouris White internal

Jim White took only a brief hiatus from the stage after Tiny Ruins’ set before returning for his main show as part of avante garde folk-rock duo Xylouris White. Xylouris White finds the virtuosic Australian drummer joining forces with equally skilled Cretan lute player and singer George Xylouris to create a musical experience that is best described as “intense”. Any words I write here will undoubtedly fail to convey the awesome power of their live performance. The unlikely but fluidly-synchronised pair released their third LP ‘Mother’ back in January, and it’s not to be missed for anyone excited by the idea of dynamic jazz-rock-folk fusion.

Ezra Furman internal

The final act on the Bella Union bill, and the final act for me at SXSW 2018 was Ezra Furman, whom I’d seen on Thursday at the Luck Reunion. The late night atmosphere of the Parish on Saturday night was an entirely different context for Furman and his band The Visions, and the dark drama of songs like ‘Suck the Blood from My Wound’ took on a new level of depth and potency in this set. Here, Furman combined his intellectual, heavily metaphorical lyricism with a visceral musicality to create a full gestalt that was somehow greater than the simple sum of its parts. In this regard, he fits in nicely with his Bella Union colleagues, who all made a positive impression on this showcase, and who made my last night in Austin a uniquely memorable one.

 

Live at Leeds 2018 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets (part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 1st May 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Part 1 of my best bets of Live at Leeds 2018 is through here. Want to read the more general preview of this annual Yorkshire event, which lays out all the big names appearing in Leeds on Saturday? Follow this link.

The Ninth Wave (post-punk; Glasgow; 5:00 PM, Oporto [BBC Introducing West Yorkshire stage])
There is a gothic darkness to the music of The Ninth Wave, not surprising for a band from Glasgow, I suppose. Synths and guitars come together with competing male and female lead vocals for a beguiling combination of power and emotion. While they are compared to bands like Pixies and The Cure and I personally hear White Lies in their music, too, this is a band who are insistent on carving their very own niche in the UK music landscape. NB: The Ninth Wave will appear Sunday at District at Liverpool Sound City and also have appearances each of the 3 days of The Great Escape, including Thursday afternoon at the Showcasing Scotland showcase at Horatio’s.

Cassia (indie rock; Macclesfield; 6:15 PM, Wardrobe [Dr. Martens stage])
Miss the sunny, chirpy sound of Vampire Weekend? Seems odd that the British saviours of this kind of calypso rock would come from the North. Or is it? As a sonic salve to bring themselves and their countrymen out of the grey doldrums that all too often hangs on the northern part of England, Cassia’s music might sound just perfect by the seaside in Brighton. NB: This group will appear at Liverpool Sound City at Hanger 34 on Sunday and at the Hope and Ruin early Saturday morning the 19th of May at The Great Escape.

Vistas (indie rock; Edinburgh; 7:00 PM, Trinity Stage)
Edinburgh’s Vistas name The Strokes and Two Door Cinema Club as major influences, so if you’re into that kind of infectious, melodic indie rock guaranteed to keep your toes tapping, this is the band for you. Tipped by BBC Scotland’s Vic Galloway as a band to watch in 2018, this band from the capital up north are big on hook-filled choruses to fill this year’s summer festivals with joy.
NB: Vistas are scheduled to perform at Constellations at Liverpool Sound City on Sunday the day after Live at Leeds, and they will also perform at The Great Escape on Saturday the 19th of May at the Hope and Ruin.

The Beach (singer/songwriter; London; 7:00 PM, Leeds International Spiegeltent)
The Beach is not a band from London but solo artist George Morgan. Why the stage name? He once dreamed of being a marine biologist, but that was long before he soldiered through London open mike nights with nothing more than a dream. A chance YouTube upload garnered wider attention on the young artist and signing with RCA. Keep an eye on this up-and-coming talent whose vocals range from gentle and emotional to heart-wrenching and epic.

Boy Azooga (indie rock; Cardiff; 8:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
Davey Newington was formerly the drummer for Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon, getting to play Glastonbury and other festivals with the young pop prodigy. Now as Boy Azooga, he’s getting the opportunity to put out his own music on Heavenly Recordings and play gigs with a live band of his very own. With seemingly a little bit of everything in rock, plus maracas (!), Boy Azooga will put on an interesting show in Leeds, for sure. NB: The band will also appear Thursday the 17th of May at The Great Escape, playing three shows.

Bad Sounds (hip-pop / soul; Bath; 8:30 PM, Leeds Church [Dork stage])
Most of the Live at Leeds schedule this year is singer/songwriters and the more conventional rock bands, so I’m glad to come across a group like Bad Sounds. Brothers Ewan and Callum Merrett’s contrasting musical preferences have led to their mixture of hip-hop, soul and pop anchored by a beguiling beat. A party-like atmosphere pervades their music, leading to the conclusion that their performances must be a great deal of fun. NB: Bad Sounds appear at the Great Escape on Friday night the 18th of May at Horatio’s.

Indigo Lo (hard rock; Southampton; 9:00 PM, Lending Room)
A few years ago, we covered Southampton heavy hitters Dolomite Minor as they lumbered around the UK with their hard rock. In 2018, they’ve returned, renaming themselves as Indigo Lo. On their debut single under their new name, ‘A World That Turns’, it sounds like they haven’t lost any of their edge. Most excellent news.

JW Ridley (electronic / lo-fi; London; 9:15 PM, Wardrobe Bar)
Like the name of his single, JW Ridley is ‘Somewhere Else’. Dreamy electronics and dissonant guitar notes frame the singer’s echoey vocals for a kind of sound not easily pigeonholed by genre. While I realise this sort of thing isn’t for everyone, I’m all for pushing artists who aren’t afraid to sound different and do their own thing. Do you, JW Ridley.

Zapatilla (electronic; ?; 10:00 PM, Headrow House [NME stage])
A cloaked, barefoot figure stood in the shadows on a stage and a SoundCloud owned by an electronic producer. That’s all I’ve been able to find on Zapatilla. Of course, mystery begets intrigue, and I’ll be interested to see what exactly is behind this man’s mystique. NB: Zapatilla appears Thursday night the 17th of May at the Walrus during The Great Escape.

Rascalton (garage rock / punk; Glasgow; 11:00 PM, Hyde Park Book Club)
Another entry from Glasgow, another tip of Vic Galloway’s, but this time on the punkier side of things. Rascalton sounds like the name of an anarchic village, where disorder is the rule of the day. While there is a fair level of craziness here, it’s organised, enjoyable chaos, with ample opportunity to headbang or cut shapes, should you choose to do either. NB: Rascalton appear Thursday afternoon the 17th of May at the Showcasing Scotland showcase and also on Friday night the 18th of May at The Great Escape.

And there you have it, ladies and gents. Twenty new acts for you to sink your teeth into as you go forth safely on your musical discovery Saturday night at Live at Leeds. Have a great time!

 

Live at Leeds 2018 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets (part 1)

 
By on Monday, 30th April 2018 at 11:00 am
 

This year’s Live at Leeds 2018 best bets preview will be longer than past years because a lot of the acts (more than in past years, I reckon!) will also appear at Liverpool Sound City or The Great Escape, or both. As a result, I listened to ever band on the Live at Leeds schedule, then cross-referenced the lists so you, the music discoverer, can find them at another event if applicable. The Great Escape will take place in Brighton in 2 weeks’ time, and I am planning to post a Great Escape-specific best bets that will pick up anyone exemplary that I wouldn’t have written about here if they aren’t appearing in Leeds. Hope that all makes sense! If you’d like to read my previous, more general preview on Live at Leeds 2018, follow this link.

Please note: as we always recommend in all of TGTF’s festival previews, the information we post here on Live at Leeds 2018 is current at the time of posting. We strongly encourage you to check in at the Live at Leeds 2018 official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Wristbands for the event in Leeds this Saturday, the 5th of May are still available at the bargain price of £36 plus handling if purchased online; early bird and VIP tickets are now sold out. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available here.

SXSW 2018 (or earlier) alums: Here’s a list of artists we either saw last month in Austin (or even in previous years) who we enjoyed AND/OR we previewed ahead of the festival -AND- will also be appearing at Live at Leeds this coming Saturday. For your convenience, I’ve listed them in order of appearance on the day so you can slot them into your growing schedule.

IDLES (12:00 PM, Wardrobe [Dr. Martens stage])
Superorganism (2:45 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
ONR (5:00 PM, Lending Room)
The RPMs (5:00 PM, A Nation of Shopkeepers [Too Many Blogs stage])
Dermot Kennedy (6:00 PM, Academy [Leeds Festival stage])
Sam Fender (6:15 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
Stella Donnelly (7:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
TOUTS (7:00 PM, A Nation of Shopkeepers [Too Many Blogs stage])
Fizzy Blood (7:15 PM, Key Club)
Spring King (7:15 PM, Leeds Beckett main stage)
Ten Tonnes (7:30 PM, Leeds Church, Dork stage)
Yak (8:30 PM, Wardrobe [Dr. Martens stage])
Blaenavon (8:45 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
Her’s (9:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
The Vaccines (9:00 PM, Academy [Leeds Festival stage])
Wildwood Kin (9:00 PM, Leeds International Spiegeltent)
The Xcerts (9:30 PM, Key Club)
Pale Waves (11:15 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])

Apollo Junction (electropop; Leeds; 12:00 PM, Trinity stage)
This band from North Yorkshire have been knocking around for the last 6 years with their brand of electropop and somehow, I have only discovered them now. Precious little is available online about them but according to this article, they enjoy Yorkshire Tea and fat rascals at Betty’s, which wins them bonus points in my book. Check them out before an A&R stumbles on them and they get whisked off to bigger venues.

The Orielles (garage rock; Halifax; 12:00 PM, Holy Trinity Church, CLASH stage)
We’ve featured The Orielles over the last 5 years on TGTF, so you’re probably wondering why would I include them here. They released their debut album ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ in February on Heavenly Recordings, and the LP has received accolades, including from The Guardian (“this album is a masterclass in how to produce guitar music that feels anything but futile: by making it specific, strange and superior to much of what’s come before.”). We knew them before they was and now you can enjoy them as a special guest at Live at Leeds. NB: They will also be appearing at Liverpool Sound City later on Saturday at the District and The Great Escape in a fortnight’s time, performing twice on Thursday the 17th of May.

SHEAFS (rock; 1:00 PM, Hyde Park Social Club)
The River Sheaf flows through Sheffield, so I’d fathom a guess that this group of Sheffield Hallam University graduates named themselves after it. This is a band with that snotty punk attitude and muscular guitar rock to back it up. They’ve been selling out venues in the UK and across the Continent, and it seems this is merely the beginning for them. NB: They will be performing at The Great Escape Saturday night the 19th of May at Hope and Ruin.

Tors (folk; Devon; 1:00 PM, Chapel)
Changing gears to a more conventional singer/songwriter outfit, my ears happened upon Tors, a quartet from Devon who amIACre miles away from the region’s most famous musical export Muse. Equally adept at a cappella four-part harmony and sweeping, guitar-driven, folky soundscapes ala Fleet Foxes and Goldheart Assembly, they’re for those interested in a slower, yet richer musical experience. NB: Tors appear Friday night the 18th of May at St. Mary’s Church at The Great Escape.

The Snuts (rock; Whitburn, West Lothian; 2:15 PM, Key Club)
I imagine most bands from Scotland are asked if they are from Glasgow or Edinburgh. The Snuts are from Whitburn, West Lothian, smack dab in between the two. I reckon they must favour Glasgow, as they’ve named a song after it that’s already hit over 440,000 streams on Spotify. No wonder: they’ve got that feel good guitar rock vibe going that everyone loves. Well, most everyone, right?

Black Futures (rock / electronic; London; 3:15 PM, Key Club)
Love psych rock? Love electronic? Hate that the two genres are never together in one band? Fear no more. Black Futures from London are a duo that have somehow successfully melded the two, giving each its due. A band after my own heart. NB: Black Futures will appear at the Great Escape Thursday the 17th of May at Green Door Store.

Hollow Coves (folk; Brisbane, Australia; 4:00 PM, Leeds International Spiegeltent)
Folk duo Hollow Coves will be travelling quite a distance for Live at Leeds. They hail from the hometown of BIGSOUND, the picturesque Queensland port city of Brisbane. You can expect angelically beautiful harmonies from the acoustically inclined folk duo. NB: Hollow Coves will appear twice on Thursday the 17th of May at the Great Escape.

Knightstown (electronic; Brighton via Glasgow; 4:00 PM, Headrow House [NME stage])
In a previous life, Michael Aston was a freelance composer and the keyboardist in C Duncan’s live band. Over the last few years, he’s been making music of his own under the name Knightstown. Aston’s swirly, emotional falsetto vocals float over his electronic compositions, drawing him favourable comparisons to Jamie Woon. He’ll provide an atmospheric performance that will be in sharp contrast to most of the other performances in Leeds on Saturday. NB: He will perform Saturday the 19th of May at The Great Escape as part of the FatCat Records showcase.

The Indigo Project (indie rock; Leeds; 4:00 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
I always like a good local band getting the opportunity to showcase at the festival in their own hometown. The Indigo Project are also no strangers to Live at Leeds, having played the event last year. Jangly, bright guitar pop guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

whenyoung (pop-punk; London via Limerick, Ireland; 4:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
Pop-punk may have been borne out of the Noughties, but it’s still alive and kicking. Female-fronted whenyoung, Irish transplants in the Capital, recall the peppiness of Avril Lavigne while sitting nicely alongside acts like Dream Wife and False Advertising. NB: whenyoung are scheduled to play at the Haunt on Thursday night the 17th of May at the Great Escape.

Lady Bird (punk; Kent; 4:15 PM, Key Club)
Slaves and Drenge got the party going on political punk a few years ago, and the UK has never looked back since. With IDLES and LIFE performing at back to back SXSWs the past 2 years, it seems likely that their buddies from the South East, Lady Bird, will get an invite to Austin soon enough. Signed to fellow Kent natives Slaves’ Girl Fight Records, their future in releasing the kind of informed punk they want is bright. NB: Lady Bird appear at the Great Escape twice on Friday the 18th of May.

Tremors (synthpop; UK/French band based in London; 4:30 PM, Brudenell Social Club Community Room [DIY Neu stage])
Tremors are two Englishmen and a Frenchman from Marseille who somehow came together with the notion that they were going to meld French electropop and New Wave and they were going to do it on their own. So far, they’ve only released a series of singles, including this year’s two heart-pumping tunes, ‘Technicolour’ and ‘Broken Glass’. As an unashamed fan of synthpop in all its guises, Tremors are a unique curiosity worth your time at Live at Leeds.

Stay tuned for the next part of this preview on Live at Leeds 2018. Hopefully tomorrow!

 

SXSW 2018: Friday night with Communion, AdHoc, Sounds from Italy, and…more

 
By on Friday, 27th April 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

The Friday night of SXSW typically finds St. David’s Episcopal Church taken over by Communion Music for their annual showcase of exemplary songwriters across genres. SXSW 2018 was no different in that regard, and while I didn’t set foot inside the British Music Embassy even once during the week, I did manage to make my annual pilgrimage to St. David’s, though this year’s visit would be brief.

Lucy Rose internal 2

The church’s main sanctuary was already crowded by the time I arrived, in anticipation of popular British singer Lucy Rose. Rose has made a concerted effort over the past several years to reconnect with her fans, who have repaid her with unconditional adoration. Rose opened her Communion set with a rather unusual introduction, saying “I’m here to play all your favourite songs.” After playing a couple of new tunes and fan favourite ‘Shiver’, Rose took a handful of requests from the audience, her spontaneity and genuine connection only adding to the graceful charm of her performance. Take a listen to her acoustic performance of ‘Moirai’ for Burberry by clicking here.

Dermot Kennedy internal

Following Rose on stage was Irish breakout sensation Dermot Kennedy, who editor Mary also covered in her Friday night recap. Despite his perhaps overly casual attire, Kennedy made a strong impression on the audience with his jarring combination of gentle folk and powerful hip-hop styles. Standing at first empty-handed in front of the microphone, he assumed an almost prayerful position in the pulpit while singing. Later in the set, Kennedy would demonstrate his guitar skills (as well as his left-handedness). His powerful single ‘Moments Passed’ stunned the St. David’s crowd to silence, followed immediately by ecstatic applause.

Lucy Dacus internal

After Kennedy finished, I left the Communion show to head over to Cheer Up Charlie’s, where American singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus was playing on the AdHoc showcase. Dacus’ recent LP ‘Historian’ has been a critical success, and its songs were no less effective in live performance. Dacus herself was mild-mannered and reserved on stage behind a pair of studious round eyeglasses, but her music made a more powerful emotional statement. You can watch Dacus perform ‘Historians’ for NPR’s South X Lullaby right through here.

During Dacus’ set, my evening took a slight detour. While I was photographing her with my smartphone, I received an email notification from one of The Lost Brothers, whom Mary and I had seen and chatted with on Tuesday. They were preparing to play a post-SXSW show in my adopted hometown of Tucson, but found themselves potentially stranded at the airport in Phoenix, over 100 miles away, on the day of the gig. As soon as Dacus finished playing, I found myself an empty chair and, in a flurry of emails and text messages, located a Tucson compatriot who was able to give the Irish folk duo a lift. This same friend told me later that the Losties’ show in Tucson was a smashing success–I was quite jealous that she got to go and I didn’t! But, as they say, all’s well that ends well, and this story indeed had a happy ending.

Damien McFly internal

Feeling satisfied with my logistical efforts, I left Cheer Up Charlie’s at a bit of a loose end. It was late by this point, and I figured I probably only had time for one more show before calling it a night. I consulted the SXSW Go app and settled on folk pop singer Damien McFly (aka Damiano Ferrari), who was playing on the Sounds from Italy showcase at Stephen F’s Bar on the second floor of the Intercontinental Hotel. The setting was elegant enough and not too crowded, but the small audience at Stephen F’s seemed a bit deflated at this late hour. After a long technical delay, McFly and his band finally took the stage, and while the songs themselves were engaging, the band never quite made up their lost momentum. However, McFly’s songwriting is well worth a second listen. Check out his sharp live performance of ‘Leap’, courtesy of K Session, just below.

 

SXSW 2018: Friday at the BMI/AT&T Acoustic Brunch and the Austin Convention Center

 
By on Thursday, 26th April 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

My Friday morning at SXSW 2018 began early, relatively speaking, even after my late and exciting Thursday night. No rest for the weary! But the BMI / AT&T Acoustic Brunch at The Four Seasons hotel was nothing if not a pleasant way to begin the day, with a lovely spread of food and drinks in the hotel courtyard and an even finer variety of musicians on the outdoor stage.

Paul Thorn internal

The first act was blues rock artist Paul Thorn, whose fire and brimstone message might have been better suited to a Sunday morning than a Friday. His past album titles include ‘Pimps and Preachers’ (2010), ‘What the Hell is Going On’ (2012), and ‘Too Blessed to be Stressed’ (2014). Thorn’s most recent release ‘Don’t Let the Devil Ride’ follows the pattern with a vivid mix of gospel and blues, covers and original songs. Have a listen to his version of the O’Jays classic ‘Love Train’ right through here.

Young & Sick internal

Young & Sick is a combination music/visual arts project led by Los Angeles-based Dutch frontman Nick van Hofwegen. Their slick synth pop has a strongly defined rhythmic aspect, which was appropriate to the bright midday sun in downtown Austin but would find itself equally at home in a dark club setting. Their own single ‘Ojai’ was a strong choice, as was their excellent cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’. You can listen to both on Young & Sick’s official Soundcloud. Astute TGTF readers may remember that we’ve covered Young & Sick once before, during SXSW 2014.

Jade Bird internal

Next in the lineup was rapidly rising British singer Jade Bird, who was flitting between shows in her very busy SXSW schedule. I had glimpsed her briefly the previous day at the Luck Reunion, but here at the Four Seasons, I got to see and hear her play a full set, including her immediately catchy and irresistibly quirky recent hit ‘Lottery’. That single, as well as Bird’s previous EP ‘Something American’, are both out now on Glassnote and come highly recommended. Her feisty set tangibly raised the energy level at this otherwise low-key brunch, sending a flutter of excitement through the sleepy Friday afternoon crowd.

Davie internal

Capitalising deftly on that momentum, Los Angeles r&b singer Davie took the stage next with a set of soulful and uplifting songs that harkened back to Paul Thorn’s earlier gospel sounds, but ultimately went in a very different musical direction. Davie’s smooth, sweet voice is perfectly suited to this style of singing, and his songs are a celebration in vocal form, not to be missed if gospel r&b is your groove. You can find the video for his recent single ‘Faith’ right here.

The Marias internal

Next up were self-described “psychedelic soul” band The Marías, who combined elements of jazz, world music, and modern classical composition into a very inviting overall sound, perfect for a swanky event like this one. Their aesthetic was somehow both intellectual and sensual at the same time, as evidenced by the hazy synth-based aura of ‘Only in My Dreams.’

Samson internal

The final performer on the BMI / AT&T Acoustic Brunch was Montreal singer/songwriter Sampson, whose astonishingly common stage moniker makes her near impossible to find on social media. Nevertheless, she rounded out the event with a haunting set of solo songs from her debut LP ‘Dark Sky Nights’, including ‘Born in the North’ which aptly reflects the quality of having been written “literally alone in the dark.” Sampson, along with the other artists on the day’s lineup, is featured in BMI’s video roundup of the Acoustic Brunch, which you can view just below.

Lo Moon internal

Though the Austin sunshine was beautiful on Friday afternoon, I did eventually have to head inside, specifically to the Convention Center. I stopped first at the Radio Day Stage, where Los Angeles band Lo Moon were on the bill. Though the indoor stage and afternoon audience were somewhat more subdued than the Pandora showcase where I saw them last year, Lo Moon sounded sharp and crystal clear, playing atmospheric, synth-laced songs from their recent self-titled debut LP. Watch their performance of ‘The Right Thing’ just below, courtesy of WUFV Public Radio.

David Fricke talk

One of the featured sessions at the Convention Center that afternoon was a panel discussion called ‘From CBGB to the World: A Downtown Diaspora’, featuring Talking Heads members Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, producers and solo artist Chris Stamey, visual artist Richard Lloyd, and photographer Julia Gorton. Loosely moderated by Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke, the conversation was rather unstructured, but deliberately so, in an attempt to reimagine the downtown New York scene of the late 1970s, the epitome of gritty rock ‘n’ roll style. Most interesting to me were the candid snapshots displayed on the large screen at the front of the room, taken by Gorton in the early days of her career, which captured the essence of the time and place from an up-close and personal perspective.

Nikki Lane internal

From there, I headed back to the Radio Day Stage to catch one more showcase before closing out the afternoon. The final act for my Friday afternoon was American country singer/songwriter Nikki Lane, whom I’d previously heard only in passing. A bit of after the fact listening revealed that her third album ‘Highway Queen’ is both rebellious and achingly relatable in its examination of lost love. Have a listen to its sultry and unapologetically country-styled title track below.

At this point in the late afternoon, I needed some time to regroup in anticipation of a busy Friday evening schedule. Keep an eye on TGTF for my recap of Friday night’s events at SXSW 2018 coming soon.

 

SXSW 2018: Thursday night at Luck Reunion (part 2) and back to downtown Austin – 15th March 2018

 
By on Tuesday, 24th April 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

If you haven’t read part 1 of my Luck Reunion recap, you can find it back here.

After a busy afternoon of fine music, the sun started to set over Willie Nelson‘s Luck Ranch, and I made my way to the World Headquarters stage, where a full docket of fine music was scheduled for the evening. The crowd had already begun to gather in anticipation of the later acts, and they were enthusiastic in their support of Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real. Lukas Nelson, for those not in the know, is Willie Nelson’s son, but he and his surf-tinged country rock band have a dedicated following in their own right. His fans were especially delighted when he was joined on stage by a pair of special guests, Margo Price and Kurt Vile.

LN and MP

Price made only a brief cameo after her surprise performance in the Luck Chapel earlier in the day, but Vile’s appearance segued into his own solo set, which received a surprisingly muted response from the Nelson family diehards in the crowd. Vile played songs from his own 2015 LP ‘b’lieve i’m goin down’ with assistance from the Promise of the Real, as well as a particularly moving solo cover of Bob Dylan‘s ‘Roll on John’.

Kurt Vile

There was a rather long interlude after Vile’s set, and dusk fittingly turned to dark before Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats took the stage. Rateliff has become quite the showman with the success of his two most recent albums, the 2015 breakthrough self-titled LP and brand new release ‘Tearing at the Seams’, and he didn’t disappoint the eager fans at Luck. He and his band tore through tracks from both albums, joined near the end by members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (who also played earlier in the day) for a blistering finale leading into the evening’s main event.

NR internal

That highly anticipated main event was, of course, a performance by the man himself, Willie Nelson. Nelson was joined on stage by a cast of family and friends, including son Lukas, for a set chock full of well-worn but well-loved tunes, including ‘Whiskey River’, ‘Beer for My Horses’ (which always made me laugh when I was a little girl) and ‘Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys’.

WN internal

Fans in the audience were clearly primed to hear all the Willie Nelson classics they knew and loved, and Nelson didn’t disappoint. The strains of his final singalong were ringing in my ears as I made my way through the crowd to head back downtown, and I couldn’t resist a final look at the gathering as I departed. Lest we forget, among all the great old tunes of Willie Nelson’s storied past, the 84-year-old songwriter has a brand new album coming out on the 27th of April, called ‘Last Man Standing.’ Have a listen to its title track through here.

Luck Reunion finale
Photo courtesy of James Joiner capturing the atmosphere of fellowship perfectly

Though internet access at the Luck Ranch had been spotty throughout the day, I was able to call an Uber to get back into Austin to catch two more shows downtown before calling it a night. I was thankful for my SXXpress pass when I arrived at the already crowded Mohawk to see British ex-pat Bishop Briggs, who has taken the alt-rock scene by storm since I last saw her in Phoenix in 2016. Her debut album ‘Church of Scars’, featuring hit tracks ‘White Flag’ and ‘River’, has just been released as this article goes to press.

Bishop Briggs inernal

My final stop on this truly incredible day was at the Palm Door on Sixth, where diehard English troubadour Frank Turner was on stage for a solo set. Turner is a regular fixture at SXSW, and his fans turned up in droves for this showcase hoping to hear their favourite tunes. Turner obliged them to a degree, but quickly shifted focus to songs from his forthcoming album ‘Be More Kind’, including the recently released and pointedly political single ‘Make America Great Again’. Check out its charming promo video, filmed in Austin during SXSW, right through here.

Frank Turner internal

Seeing Turner’s relentless energy and enthusiasm for his new songs was a particular highlight of SXSW for me, even after the amazing songwriting I’d been privy to all day long at the Luck Reunion. Thursday at SXSW 2018 was a remarkable day indeed, and one I won’t soon forget. Many hearty thanks to the Luck Reunion organisers, as well as to all the artists featured here.

 
 
 

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.

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

Privacy Policy