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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: Midlands and East of England artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Thursday, 2nd March 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Tourists visiting the UK often overlook the Midlands and the East of England. They would rather visit London and other more ‘famous’ big cities in the country. Unfortunately and unfairly, the same kind of phenomenon happens when it comes to journalists looking for and tipping bands. They’d rather focus on London, Manchester and Glasgow: you know, the places where everywhere you turn, you find a new unsigned artist chomping at the bit for a chance. While it’s true that bands in the UK tend to gravitate towards and relocate to London to try to make a proper go of it, there’s something to be said about refusing to follow the pack, hanging tough in your hometown and being proud of where you’re from.

So today’s edition of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 will introduce you to a healthy baker’s dozen of acts from the Midlands and the East of England who will have their time in the spotlight next month in Austin. Except where noted, the summaries below were written by our Northern Irish correspondent Adam McCourt. 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.

The Midlands

BURNS – electronic / DJ / Los Angeles via Stafford
He used to call Stafford his ‘hood. But highly sought producer, DJ and electronic musician in his own right Matthew James Burns now calls Los Angeles home. It’s no wonder that his eclectic nature blending elements of pop, dance and hip-hop has drawn loads of attention, admirers and potential collaborators, but SXSW 2017 will be his moment to shine on his own. FFO: deadmau5, Kaskade (Mary Chang)

Charlie Cunningham – singer/songwriter / Bedfordshire
Charlie Cunningham lived in Spain for 2 years and has uniquely incorporated the flamenco influences that inspired him abroad into his playing, songwriting and overall sound on his music recent music. This seems to be the thing many people like about the Bedfordshire artist’s music. Following a series of EPs in successive years (‘Outside Things’ in 2014, ‘Breather’ in 2015, ’Heights’ in 2016), his debut album ‘Lines’ is out now. FFO: Bombay Bicycle Club, Chet Faker

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCYHNfMa2uI[/youtube]

HECK – punk / Nottingham
Straight from Nottingham, HECK have been consistent in truly bringing the noise amongst the twiddly, light-hearted, slightly emo math scene since 2009. Formerly known to the math-rock community as Baby Godzilla, Johnny Hall (vocals/rhythm guitar), Matt Reynolds (vocals/lead guitar), Paul Shelley (backing vocals/bass), Tom Marsh (Drums) now perform as HECK. Rest assured, the name change is the only thing that’s changed about them. It took a while, but the band released their debut album under the name HECK ‘Instructions’ last March 2016. FFO: Dillinger Escape Plan, The Fall of Troy, Sikth

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykC0MQNgyM0[/youtube]

Jacob Banks – r&b / Birmingham
R&b artist Jacob Banks incredibly shot to success during his time as an unsigned artist. He was the first-ever unsigned artist to appear on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge and won the 2012 MOBO UnSung regional competition in his hometown of Birmingham. He has accomplished a whole host of successes in such a short career: a support slot for Emilie Sande on her 2013 UK tour, the second release ‘Worthy’, from his debut EP ‘The Monologue’, featured on hit American TV show ‘Suits’, and as was championed by Zane Lowe. Banks released his debut album ‘The Paradox’ in July 2015 and signed a major label deal to Interscope Records last year. FFO: Naughty Boy, Sam Smith, Emelie Sande, Rag’n’Bone Man

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoIaOKg4Otw[/youtube]

Safone – grime / Birmingham
London might get the lion’s share of attention when it comes to rappers, and yes. there might be less of a critical mass of hip-hop and grime artists in the Midlands. However, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and a talented StayFresh crew that spans this part of England has ensured “as a means of releasing and uniting grime music in the area.” One of their own, SafOne (two syllables, please), was picked up by South London rapper P Money for a collaboration on the track ‘Roll Up’, though it’s easy to see in the video below who the true star is. FFO: Giggs, Skepta (Mary Chang)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAI94SzvWow[/youtube]

Temples – psych rock / Kettering
The biggest name in this edition of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 – at least in terms of Facebook likes – is psychedelic four-piece Temples. Since their formation in 2012, the band have released one studio album, ‘Sun Structures’ in February 2014, which charted at number 7 in the UK. Following its success, they then released a remix album in November the same year, ‘Sun Restructured’. They have continued to grow by touring as both headliners and support acts and tomorrow, they release their sophomore album. FFO: The Beatles, Tame Impala

To read what we’ve written on Temples in the past here at TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6zdVaAe0OE[/youtube]

VITAL – hip-hop / Wolverhampton
VITAL is a rapper cut from a different cloth. Beyond what he does with this words and music, he’s also a family man and a motivational speaker, taking from his Wolverhampton and Jamaican roots for inspiration. Outside of the accolades he’s received for his music and videos and support from BBC Radio 1 and 1xtra, his approach in upholding family morals and doing what’s right – considered unusual in his genre – has led to him being recognised as a business owner and entrepreneur.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0c-dRskBo8[/youtube]

East of England

Airways – rock / Peterborough
Airways are a recently formed indie rock band, based in Peterborough. Despite the band’s short career, they have made huge strides in the UK scene, most of which came off the back of their second single ‘One Foot’ released in July 2016. It was named BBC introducing Track of the Week by BBC Radio 1 in August 2016 and gained them a slot on the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds. FFO: Royal Blood, Foals, Nothing But Thieves

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x-mVZ7vBgk[/youtube]

Let’s Eat Grandma – experimental / pop / Norwich
Teenage best friends and Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth are two girls who refuse to keep their music in a box. ANY box. Their weird and wonderful music takes from pop, rock, hip-hop and experimental, melding into something you’ve never ever heard before. They signed to Transgressive Records and released their beguilingly unique ‘I, Gemini’ debut album last summer. While they’re so young that they won’t be able to tuck into pints in Austin, they’re sure to be one of the most intriguing acts to catch at SXSW 2017. FFO: Kate Bush, St. Vincent (Mary Chang)

To read more of TGTF’s past coverage on Let’s Eat Grandma, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QegNRZ63WmM[/youtube]

Mary Epworth – singer/songwriter / Norwich
Mary Epworth (pictured at top) [yes, she’s producer Paul’s sister – Ed.] meticulously blends what she claims to be West Coast psychedelia with gospel and dream pop to create quite a unique a style of music. Her debut album ‘Dream Life’ was released in June 2012 via her own label Hand of Glory. Supporting the LP, Epworth played sold out shows and a string of festivals throughout the UK. After garnering so much attention from fans and the likes of BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music and Q in the UK, it finally got a North American release in 2015, so her appearance in Austin for SXSW couldn’t come soon enough. FFO: Bright Eyes, Let’s Eat Grandma, Elbow, Florence and the Machine

To read past coverage on Mary Epworth on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=722dDnXtkgA[/youtube]

Mullally – pop / soul / Great Yarmouth
Filled with life and love, Mullally crafts pop songs that are soulful and have a big heart. A voice that perfectly encapsulates the soul it needs to, he projects and encourages sing along through catchy and memorable lyrics. Maybe not as poppy as you might think, there’s a dark edge to the music, but the pop bones are certainly holding it all together. FFO: Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith (Steven Loftin)

Superglu – rock / Manningtree
“An abstract painter, a disco dancing sociologist, a bloke who lives on a houseboat and a guitarist form a band,” is what the opening line of Superglu’s bio reads on Facebook. It sounds like the start of a joke but to be clear, this garage pop outfit from Manningtree are not joking around. In just 2 years, their ‘laser precise, punk pop workouts’ have received attention from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and Radio X’s John Kennedy, performed at Latitude festival, twice and headlined the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds. FFO: Baby Strange, Spring King

To read our past coverage on Superglu here on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1H_6gImH80[/youtube]

Ten Tonnes – singer/songwriter / Hertford
Younger brother of superstar George Ezra, Ethan Barnett aka Ten Tonnes is a singer/songwriter with the draw of a full band. A sound that is reminiscent of ‘90s Britrock, Barnett crafts heartfelt songs with powerhouse choruses you’ll soon be singing along to. The ‘Lucy’ EP is out now and ready for you to fall in love with. FFO: Bombay Bicycle Club, Catfish and the Bottlemen (Steven Loftin)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNZK0BiPMfg[/youtube]

Editor Mary Chang contributed to this report.

 

Reading 2016: Saturday Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 31st August 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Following on from the complete success that was Friday at Reading 2016 – and with Foals‘ pinnacle career moment headlining the main stage – Saturday had a lot to live up to. Headlining solo today were the funk giants and great dividers of opinion, Red Hot Chili Peppers, but first we had a whole day to experience.

The weather had a go at trying to dampen the spirits by giving a mid-morning downpour, but as with all UK festivals, this only fuelled the festival-going crowd’s insatiable lust for a good time. First up were Scottish three-piece Fatherson. Clearly a milestone for the band, they delivered their emotive and euphoric set with complete expert execution. It shouldn’t be too long before they climb their way through the stages and find themselves front and centre.

The Beach, a London-based singer/songwriter recently on tour with Tom Odell, brought his band for a full ensemble run through of his thoughtful and encompassing tunes. This was an easy watch that the calm crowd relished in. Over on the main stage, American hard rockers Clutch may not have had the largest crowd for the location, but they certainly didn’t let this stop them from giving a set that was filled with solos, riffs and just about every other rock staple you need. Shout out to drummer Jean-Paul Gaster for his 9:30 Club t-shirt (Washington represent!)

Continuing the heavy streak on the main stage, Skindred gave a thoroughly vicious performance with their blend of rock, reggae and metal. The crowd, after witnessing Clutch, were more than up for a good time with heavier influences. Which was good considering what was to come across the field.

The Pit was the place to be for most of the afternoon. Like most festivals, secret sets are always a guarantee, and Reading was no different. With a gap on the stage at 4 PM labelled as ‘TBC’, a spraypainted You Me At Six poster and a band photo backstage, the most subtle of secrets was suddenly revealed. But this was not before what could probably have been one of the best sets of the festival by Heck, a musical marvel who completely dominated the stage, the crowd and everything in between. Spending the majority of the set in various states in and on the crowd, including guitarist and singer Jonny Hall sat atop a flight case while playing guitar, it was an absolutely animalistic and wild sight to behold, Heck should not skip anyone’s radar, not they’d let that happen in any case. Back to the You Me At Six secret set, the closer the time came to 4 PM, the further the tent filled out. By the time the band took to the stage through a curtain of fog, the tent was a gravitational centre. With the band having just announced a large tour of the UK, it was a close and exciting glimpse into what was to hit our cities early next year.

On the main stage, Kent breakthrough punk duo Slaves, proved that they’d earned their way on to central billing by ferociously powering through their socially relevant songs. Another historic moment for a British band at a staple festival.

Back at The Pit and following on from Reading 2016’s worst kept secret came Milk Teeth. The Gloucestershire-based band showed exactly why they’re one of the UK’s brightest up-and-comers. With songs filled with personality and a ’90s rock feel, the crowd were as immersed in the music as the band playing them. It’s sets such as theirs that give Reading its best draw and atmosphere: small bands finding their audience, laying the groundwork for a return in the future to ever larger crowds.

One of the UK festival exclusives this year, Eagles of Death Metal have been present in the public eye for many reasons over the last year, both positive and negative. All of that didn’t matter today though as they joked, sang, laughed and rocked through a main stage set that will surely eclipse what has gone before. Leading man Jesse Hughes knows exactly how to engage and entertain his audience, be it dedicating ‘Zipper Down’ cut ‘Silverlake’ to a fan-made golden cape that he wore atop a Red Hot Chili Peppers shirt, or introducing us all to his father who was side of stage and beginning a chant of “dad! dad! dad!”, he’s an expert at his craft. Ending with ‘Save a Prayer’ who he dedicated to England because “when we needed you, you did not let us down”, likely a reference to the Bataclan terror attack in Paris last November.

While this riotous party was going down, newcomers VANT had the Festival Republic tent filled with young minds that they’re hoping to reach with their politically charged songs. Judging by the reception they were given during single ‘The Answer’ that references Afghanistan and UK/U.S. relations, their plan is working.

Mancunians The Courteeners burst onto the main stage taking over from where Eagles of Death Metal left off. Theirs was a rousing, anthemic set, perfect to carry the afternoon through to ready for the evening’s festivities. Imagine Dragons were the warm-up for Red Hot Chili Peppers, and by the term warm up, they certainly did. With crowd pleasers such as ‘Radioactive’ and ‘Demons’ and their larger than life sound, there was no way they could fail.

Finally, it was the turn of the big guns, Red Hot Chili Peppers. A band who simply need no introduction, over 3 decades of funk and rock, they proved at Reading they’re here to keep the reigning crown. Taking to the stage at 9:30, the incomparable Red Hot Chili Peppers were as welcomed as they would’ve been at any point in their career, with a hungry crowd and rapturous applause. Kicking straight in with ‘Can’t Stop’, it was clear they were here to only prove this point. Though the set could have felt a touch more exciting, it was a solid performance that certainly cemented Kiedis and co.’s place at top billing. Hits aplenty, from a full crowd sing along to ‘Under the Bridge’ to an encore ending with ‘Give It Away’. Saturday night closed out with the feeling of an impenetrable force proved by the enthusiastic crowd, who had grown to almost the entire festival capacity and sought any means possible to get a view. If Saturday was anything to go by, it proved Reading and Leeds is a festival that not only secures the legends but can also breed them.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF 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.

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