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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013: Singer/songwriter and folk UK artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Tuesday, 29th January 2013 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2013 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change.

So here we are, the last week of January. Each Tuesday we’ve been bringing you genre ‘chapters’ of the UK bands that have been given the all important shout for this year’s SXSW 2013 taking place in venues across Austin the 12th to the 17th of March 2013. On the 8th of January, we brought you the pop and pop hybrid acts list, with a follow-up addendum on the 14th of January after the SXSW people updated their books on the 10th. The 15th of January saw the posting of the sound heavyweights, on the list of rock, metal and punk acts. Last week, on the 22nd, we wanted to showcase the wizards of the music world with the list of electronic and electronic-based bands and DJs.

This week? Possibly the genre that is most prolific – and the most crowded: the singer/songwriters and folk artists. Last week it was interesting to read that in an interview with SPIN, singer Scott Hutchinson of Scottish band Frightened Rabbit complained of being compared to current folk rock behemoths Mumford and Sons. Love ’em or hate ’em, they brought folk rock to the forefront of popular music and proved that that brand of ‘popularised’ bluegrass could be popular around the world. There is no doubt a whole new generation of folk rock artists that are being given a second glance, instead of being ignored, thanks to the hard work of Mumford and other acts soldiering on in this genre. And then there are the singer/songwriters: we may romanticise the image of a solitary, guitar-wielding man in front of a crowd, the reality is that there are both men and women who are pouring their hearts out into song, sitting in their bedrooms wondering what might be. In that respect, SXSW does its best in giving these folks the proper credit – and surely the proper platform – that might propel them into the big time.

What I had envisioned this weekly guide to be was simply a handy resource if you were wondering which acts to catch at this year’s marathon week of showcases, parties and secret shows. But even if you’re not attending the big event, I hope it’ll also introduce you to the solo artists and bands you haven’t heard of, because that’s the most exciting thing about SXSW: at any one moment, you could walk into a bar, a club, a hotel, a warehouse, wherever…and you might just discover the next big thing in music. And that isn’t limited to one place or one event. You can find new music anywhere. And without further adieu…

‘Allo Darlin – Australia collides with Britain in this folk pop band fronted by Elizabeth Morris. Their songs are so cute, you wish you could just pinch their cheeks! Martin caught them at the End of the Road Festival in 2011.

Sounds like: the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, with a female lead

Read our previous coverage of the band here.

Lauren Aquilina – This 17-year old is from Windsor, but knock off the Royal Family jokes, please. She independently released her debut EP ‘Fools’ in October, so what a coup to get the SXSW nod when you’re still unsigned!

Sounds like: Lucy Rose, Ellie Goulding (but minus the synths)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uodUCtmCRME[/youtube]

Jake Bugg (added 10/01/13) –Noel Gallagher’s young protégé who has already found fame in the last year at the Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City, the Nottingham native has made folk and country guitar rock popular again with his debut album

Read our previous coverage of Bugg here.

Bo Saris – blue-eyed soul delivered in a falsetto. It’s difficult for me to listen to, but if a Dutchman described as ” the new, male equivalent of the late Amy Winehouse” doesn’t make you shrink in horror…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-cUVZThQVs[/youtube]

Bwani Junction – Edinburgh band invoking the Afrobeat spirit of Vampire Weekend with their jaunty guitars. They even describe themselves as “Big Country were from the Soweto”. They made their Great Escape debut in 2012 with the Scottish contingent, so it seems only fitting that they make their SXSW debut this year.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbYjSamxS30[/youtube]

Matt Cardle (added 10/01/13) – the winner of the 7th season of the UK’s X Factor, it’ll be interesting if his popularity in Britain will translate into fame in America.

Jamie N Commons – Has singing the blues, just like plaid shirts, become trendy again? If yes, then Jamie N Commons is its poster boy. And if for some reason you miss him and you live in America, don’t fret: he’ll be supporting Lianne La Havas (his fellow BBC Sound of 2012 longlist alum also at SXSW) on her North American tour directly following the festival.

The Dunwells – it is unfortunate that in the post-Mumford and Sons world, other folk bands that came out in 2009 were left behind. Hopefully, Leeds’ Dunwells will use this opportunity in Austin (and New York in January and Colorado in March post-SXSW) to show everyone just how talented they are and they’re not Mumford wannabes.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDuv-cG5rtM[/youtube]

Paloma Faith – imagine my surprise to hear that Paloma Faith is now on my mum’s approved list, after watching her perform on Graham Norton. I’m kind of interested to see what kind of people would show up to see her in Austin: Amy Winehouse fans?

Read our previous coverage on Paloma here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvHiflzabHg[/youtube]

Fossil Collective – If you transported the Byrds to Leeds, what would they sound like? Probably something similar to Fossil Collective. I might have compared them to Fleet Foxes, except that in the press shots I’ve seen of Dave Fendick and Jonny Hooker, only one of them has a beard so…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYPBPVoACgE[/youtube]

For some mp3s and John’s review of their EP ‘On and On’, head here.

Goldheart Assembly – Having loved their 2010 debut album ‘Wolves and Thieves’, I felt like it’d been nearly forever since I last heard anything about Goldheart Assembly. When I checked on TGTF, the last thing I’d written on them, a post about their single ‘Harvest in the Snow’, was posted in March 2011. It’ll be 2 years, then, when they make their way to Austin, and not a moment too soon. Were they waiting for the Fleet Foxes love – and expected backlash – to die down? We’ll never know for sure, but I for one will be eager to see them live for the first time.

Catch all our previous Goldheart coverage here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeRse7-lXM4[/youtube]

Ed Harcourt – Compared to the other singer/songwriters on the SXSW list, Ed Harcourt is a relative granddaddy – at 35, he’s released five studio albums to date, with an sixth, ‘Back into the Woods’, to follow in late February 2013. ‘The Man That Time Forgot’, the first song to be offered up from the new album, can be downloaded for free here.

Robyn Hitchcock – When your own Web site is called ‘a museum’, you know you’ve paid your dues to the music industry. This is where cult singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock finds himself, revered in the UK for his English eccentricity, though I am very curious at the kind of turnout for his shows at SXSW and indeed, where they will have him play.

Jesca Hoop (added 10/01/13) – to some of us, she’s better known associated with Elbow. Not actually British (she’s a Californian transplant to Manchester after Guy Garvey discovered), she started with a very eclectic sound which turned decidedly poppier with ‘Hospital (Win Your Love)’, the last time we checked in with her.

Read our previous coverage of Hoop here.

James Hunter – from the same town as Lammo (Colchester) comes this r&b and soul singer, previously nominated for a Grammy for his 2006 album ‘People Gonna Talk’. This is exactly the kind of music I don’t usually seek out, so I’m rather keen to see him play. I’m imagining the scene to be as hopping as JD MacPherson’s at last year’s Great Escape.

Josephine – if Morrissey was a young black woman, he might just sound like Josephine. (And yes. I didn’t believe Paul Lester either until I heard ‘What a Day’.) I haven’t heard her debut album but I’ve been told the rest of it doesn’t sound Smiths-esque, so you can’t blame Manchester for it.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hngRpjPafI[/youtube]

Kodaline – Gary Barlow’s favourite new band from Dublin doesn’t show any signs of slowing down after getting a BBC Sound of 2013 longlist nod, We’ve written quite a bit about this band, so you can read all of that here. They have new EP out in March, and the promo video for its title track ‘High Hopes’ is below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4povfmX144[/youtube]

Cate Le Bon – Cate Le Bon is a breath of fresh air compared to most of the other Welsh acts tipped for 2013’s SXSW, which appear to all be thrashy, hard rock bands made up of men.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swJNnYHFPWA[/youtube]

Sounds like: Beth Jeans Houghton with a fixation on death

Let’s Buy Happiness – happy guitar rock/pop band from Newcastle.

Sounds like: ‘Allo Darlin, without the harmonies.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-1nLr6Gl4I[/youtube]

Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun – Jim Lockey sans band was the first band of the Xtra Mile Recordings showcase on my first night at SXSW 2012, so let’s see if he can manage to bring his entire band out for 2013. I think of his as ‘Frank Turner lite’, if that helps you imagine what he sounds like.

Read our previous live coverage of Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun here.

My Darling Clementine – ‘country/soul’ duo from Birmingham by husband/wife coupling Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish. Long Facebook profiles seem overdone to me, so…

Willy Moon (added 10/01/13) – placing #6 in the TGTF 10 for 2012 readers’ poll, signing to Jack White’s Third Man Records, having one of his songs play on a new iPod advert in America? Willy Moon’s life just gets better and better. A little bit pop, a little bit soul, a little bit ‘50s styling for one hip sound.

Read our previous coverage on Willy here.

Tom Odell (added 10/01/13) – Having already won the BRITs 2013 Critics’ Choice award, the sky’s the limit for this Chichester-born singer/songwriter.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwpMEbgC7DA[/youtube]

Christopher Rees – Cardiff singer/songwriter that NME describes like this: “It’s not easy to achieve noise metal god status accompanied by a cello but Christopher Rees makes an awesome, bloody fist of it. Pumped up and snarling but managing to wrench beautiful tunes out of the wreckage… This is seriously amazing stuff”. This description has us intrigued!

Roo Panes – ‘classical folk pop’ is not a genre normally explored here, but I’m always up for a challenge. This is Andrew ‘Roo’ Panes’ project with a strong backing and voal harmonising band. He has already been singled out for his handsomeness, as Burberry chose him to model their autumn/winter 2012 collection. Given Mumford and Laura Marling‘s recent meteoric rise to fame in America, Roo Panes is the odds-on favourite to follow in their footsteps.

Sounds like: he should be signed to Communion, if Ben Lovett hasn’t come sniffing round yet

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGP-TnIoejk[/youtube]

Lucy Rose – We, of course, already knew how talented she was. But 2013 could just be the year that Lucy Rose breaks out of Bombay Bicycle’s shadow and becomes a huge worldwide success in her own right. Though I worry what would happen to Lucy if she suddenly became massive; would she stop doing the things like Tweet at her mother on Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable that make me go, “oh, bless!”? A scary prospect…

Read our previous coverage on Lucy Rose here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adBPg8Zdp2g[/youtube]

Paul Thomas Saunders – it must be hard to be Paul Thomas Saunders, a Leeds singer/songwriter in his late twenties and allergic to alcohol. But I guess he must use all that extra free time not boozing at the pub to write. Evidently I missed a “triumphant” appearance at last year’s Great Escape. Need to rectify that.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EILsIxupmcM[/youtube]

Jack Savoretti – part Italian, but that’s where any comparison to Paolo Nutini ends. Savoretti has already been on the road with Corinne Bailey Rae and shored up Radio2 support, but why isn’t he massive? Just wait until one of his songs gets synced on a major film soundtrack.

Sounds like: a harder, more pop Bob Dylan, a gentler Bruce Springsteen

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umBAmzf0SXs[/youtube]

Skinny Lister – this London folk band have already made quite an impact on America, through a previous appearance at SXSW and then an even more surprising appearance last year on the Vans Warped tour of North America. Could they be riding the Mumford wave? Possibly. Their debut album ‘Forge and Flagon’ gets an American release this month, so we’ll see if the momentum lasts.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsqaLfWMcp8[/youtube]

The Staves – three harmonising sisters with guitars from Watford who are no stranger to America, having toured here a couple times now with the (now defunct?) Civil Wars, I was surprised to see them get another turn at SXSW. If they do get an opportunity to sing in St. David’s again like in 2012, go, go, GO. You won’t be disappointed.

Story Books – Kent band sounding at times haunting and at times bombastic. Not really sure why they’re not more popular or, frankly, why we haven’t heard of them yet.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLumIFt_tFQ[/youtube]

Richard Thompson – like Robyn Hitchcock, I’m not entirely sure what Richard Thompson is doing on a list of acts scheduled to perform at SXSW. Having already made a name for himself as a member of Fairport Convention and then with his wife Linda and now as a solo artist, I suspect he’ll be using the guest spot to advertise his latest album ‘Electric’, out in February.

Washington Irving – jaunty folk rock wrapped around a Scottish accent.

File next to: Arcade Fire

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvKKXbgCnyc[/youtube]

That’s it for the genre chapters in the TGTF Guide to SXSW in January. To not miss any of our SXSW 2013 coverage, bookmark this tag and of course, keep it here on TGTF for even more great content in the weeks leading up to the big event in March!

 

Live Review: Frank Turner with Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun and Tim Barry at Lincoln Engine Shed – 25th November 2012

 
By on Monday, 3rd December 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Any Frank Turner gig must without avail be regarded as a spectacle. This guy just doesn’t do bog standard, or just ‘one more gig’ kind of shows. No, he storms the stage every time he steps in front of an audience with his trademark grin and acoustic guitar.

Warming up for Frank is not an enviable task, but one Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun take to like a duck to water. (Mary caught Lockey solo at the Xtra Mile Recordings showcase this year on the first night of programming at SXSW.) The band are heralded by Mr. Turner himself as, “the best new band around at the moment”, and their new EP ‘Death’ is causing a stir at the moment. Singles ‘Warriors’ and ‘Home’ have the threat of becoming something very different and exceptional. Live they work as a well-oiled unit and are a promising warm-up act, especially as they were on at 7:30.

The next man up also was hailed during the show by Turner as “someone who wrote a song so brilliant, it had me painstakingly close to just giving up songwriting altogether”. Richmond, Virginia’s Tim Barry has been making music for 22 years now and with his years come the earnest look of experience and the slight resemblance of Seasick Steve. But with non-handmade instruments…although hey, I think it’d suit him. But that’s just me.

Frank Turner entered the stage around a quarter past nine and the amassed faithful through up their hands in worship to their musical god. Turner didn’t mess about as well. He came on and roared into ‘I am Disappeared’ from his most recent album ‘England Keep My Bones’, a slow builder where Turner sings about how he “keeps having dreams/ of pioneers/ pirate ships and Bob Dylan”. He then burst into his tale of gigging across every continent and sleeping on every couch going with ‘The Road’.

The crowd know every word and in their Church of Frank at which they have come to worship, they utter every syllable of the hymns that they have come to recite as preacher in chief Turner and his Sleeping Souls power through a set opening full of hits, like ‘Reasons Not to Be an Idiot’ and his tribute to atheism ‘Glory Hallelujah’. Not very churchlike now, eh Frank?

The ex-Million Dead frontman and lead screamer of new hardcore outfit Mongol Horde (who I caught on the third day of Reading this year) came across as the ever likeable journeyman of rock ‘n’ roll, engaging in a bit of banter with the fans and getting them all riled up for the next song as it came around. As far as lead singers go at the moment, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who can so effortlessly seize an audiences imagination with just a couple of verses and a guitar. Throughout the set we’re invited into a bit of the Turner tour banter, just as his lighting man runs on stage in an elephant costume and we’re told that the sound man is dressed as a tiger just for “shits and giggles”.

Frank also debuted two new songs at his gig at The Engine Shed in Lincoln. One being ‘We Shall Not Overcome’ and the other being probably the highlight of the gig. That being ‘Four Simple Words’, what were those words? “I want to dance.” And with that, everything onstage goes mad. The audience start frothing a bubbling with the ferocity of water when I’m overboiling my pasta after a long day at work and not paying attention. The song is just as mad as it sounds. With pitch and speed changes galore, it’s a track that goes from ballroom twinkles to the roaring throng of a NOFX track. It’s a winner though. Trust me.

Shenanigans aside, the gig was a triumph in all senses of the word. Not a single soul (even the sleeping ones) left The Engine Shed without a smile on their face and for this reviewer, after around 150-ish gigs, was something I’d never seen before. A crowd in unity getting together of their own accord and just having an amazing time. Nothing sinister, nothing wrong. Just one man, the music and his followers.

Where next, Frank?

 

2000 Trees Festival 2012 Roundup: Day 2

 
By on Monday, 30th July 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

After the torrential downpour of Friday night, the camp site at 2000 Trees is awoken to the unmistakable proggy hum of Antlered Man inside The Cave. The London four-piece have been touring the UK and Europe for the past year promoting their unique blend of experimental rock ‘n roll. The touring seems to have paid off in terms of spreading the word as the tent is almost half-full at the ungodly hour of midday. Treating the hundreds of muddy revellers to the best bits of ‘Giftes 1 & 2′ including ‘Platoono of Uno’ and ‘Misruly Roo’, it’s the anti-race opus ‘Surrounded By The White Men’ that excites the senses and really gets the adrenaline pumping for the day ahead.

Over at the Main Stage the sun is emerging from the clouds, as Warwickshire rockers Sharks blast into the fitting ‘Arcane Effigies’. The smiles are out and the multiple layers of waterproof clothing are finally being stripped by the justly large crowd that is amassing for Sharks’ accessible, modern slant on ’70s punk. Comparisons to The Clash are lazy but just – front man James Mattock stands at the front of the stage, reminiscent of a 21st century Joe Strummer but with vocal leanings toward Morrissey. The anthemic ‘It All Relates’ is the first real singalong of the day with the 1000-or-so fans basking in the sun and filling their lungs with the cleansing countryside air – and stomach with Badger’s Bottom cider.

Back in The Cave it’s time for a visceral battering from London’s Bastions. It’s a very loud, very sharp blast of ear-piercing ferocity to a circle of die-hard fans and hardcore enthusiasts. The pumped up quartet throw themselves around the stage and into the crowd, whipping up a muddy frenzy inside the marquee. Rushing through ‘Visitant’, ‘With Love’ and a mind-blowing rendition of ‘Grief Beggar’, Bastions prove themselves worthy of their place mid-way through the day and as one of the best hardcore bands in Britain.

Over at the third stage, dubbed the Leaf Lounge, are a band who have played every single 2000 Trees festival since it began back in 2007. Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun have been making friends in all the right places, particularly folk rock hero Frank Turner. A favourite of anyone who has ever attended this humble Cheltenham festival, the local lads have packed out the tiny tent with many standing in the flood of mud outside. The deafening renditions of ‘New Natives’ and ‘Waitress’ from the stage and crowd alike ricochet off the inside of the tent, deafening the tightly-packed crowd and spurring on the party. A short set this late in the day, but everything you could have wanted.

Sub-headlining the Main Stage are a band that 2000 Trees have been trying to book since the beginning. Pioneering post-hardcore outfit Hundred Reasons might not have released a new LP since 2007, but that doesn’t matter. This evening they’re bringing their breakthrough opus ‘Ideas Above Our Station’ to a packed Main Stage that has turned into a swamp over the weekend. Entering the fray to rapturous applause, the Aldershot mob dive into ‘Kill Your Own’ and ‘No Way Back’ with pure energy and the genuine feeling they’re happy to be back. However, the intensity fades away all too quickly as the former chart-bothering quartet slip into the motions and appear to lose the initial drive and passion. Of course the big hits still hit hard and ‘If I Could’ proves a particular highlight with 2000 20-somethings recalling their angst-ridden youth for a few minutes of delightful shouting. As the last note of ‘Avalanche’ rings out the crowd disperses with the odd mutter and moan, after years of waiting it finally happened – but it was meant to be so much more.

Closing the -da2y extravaganza of British musical beauty are the Welsh noiseniks Future of the Left (pictured at top). Their amalgamation of post-hardcore, noise and ballsy rock ‘n roll is heartstoppingly loud and charged with unadulterated rage that drowns the mud-caked onlookers. Opening on the powerful ‘Arming Eritrea’, Andy Falkous’ unmistakable yelling echoes inside The Cave, forcing its way out into the night. Following on in quick succession with ‘Small Bones Small Bodies’ and ‘Sheena is a T-Shirt Salesman’, the fists of fury are getting their nightly work-out in the ever-growing mosh pit.

Falkous is on top form with his irreverent humour and dry wit receiving a wholesome airing, making full use of the C word from start to finish and not giving the smallest of fucks what anyone thinks. Throwing in a couple of Mclusky numbers makes for a unique setlist that risks losing attention from fairweather fans, but ‘Robocop 4 – Fuck Off Robocop’ (tonight dedicated to Andre the Giant) comprises of everything Future Of The Left represent – it’s chaotic, funny, stilted yet perfectly structured. Closing on ‘Lapsed Catholics’ the dazed crowd stagger back to their tents in the pitch darkness of Upcote Farm with bleeding ears and rattled bones. The Cardiff collective prove themselves worthy of a headline set with a Main Stage quality performance. If they return for 2013, it can definitely be bigger and better…and louder.

 

SXSW 2012: Day 1 – Xtra Mile Recordings showcase at Latitude 30 – 13th March 2012

 
By on Wednesday, 21st March 2012 at 3:00 pm
 

Being the editor of a UK music blog, it seemed only fitting that my first night would end at the British Music Embassy’s home for SXSW, at Latitude 30 on San Jacinto Boulevard. To be quite honest, I was planning on an as stress free as possible first night, and when we were having a walk around, I flipped through my book to see with some shock that Frank Turner was playing a showcase there that very night. I expected to completely miss Frank in Austin, as the only official appearance I’d heard about was an invite-only party Wednesday night that I did not get an invite for, even though I asked. I’m really wondering who was invited to that party, but it’s just as well, as being surrounded by punters passionate about Frank Turner was probably better than hanging around stuffy industry types, yeah?

Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun was first on the bill, which was an Xtra Mile Recordings showcase put on in conjunction with AiM. Lockey, from Cheltenham, quipped that the rest of his band was home in England and since they were so jealous he was at SXSW, he wasn’t sure when he returned if he still had a band. I’m not as good of a judge of the singer/songwriter genre as Cheryl is, but I’d say Lockey is a pretty good sample, as the conviction in his singing was obvious. Despite this being his first trip to Austin, he had enough guts to climb down into the audience and perform with voice and acoustic guitar only, playing to a round of new fans.

The next band up is probably not new to most of you; I’d certainly heard of them before but had never seen them perform live. The Xcerts from Aberdeen cranked it up several notches on the awesome scale with their wild and crazy set, with singer Murray Macleod belting his heart out. Several times I expected his teeth and tongue to fall out of his mouth, as he was singing so hard, and maybe his legs to get dislocated for catapulting himself in the air, legs flailing like a rock star whenever possible. (They were so great, I made it a point to see another Scottish showcase that featured them on Friday.)

However, the energy in the club reached the boiling point when the next band, screamo Cardiff rockers Future of the Left, took the stage. I’ve seen their name on countless festival bills in the past – and sometimes confusing them with the Futureheads – so I was curious what they sounded like. Well my friends, if a small town American girl liking Future of the Left is wrong, I don’t want to be right. This really isn’t my genre at all – it’s too loud, too frenetic and too hard – but the raucous performance, spurred on by a primarily fanboy audience and combined with an at times blinding light and smoke show, was an incredible sight to behold and music to one’s ears, truth be told.

They even managed to play directly to the crowd when dedicating ‘Robocop’ to Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, threatening that if anyone at the show voted for him, they’d…well, actually they didn’t say, but I think the sentiment came through loud and clear. And from the people that were cheering in response to their threat, my guess is that the majority of SXSW attendees aren’t Republicans and/or are very progressive thinkers, so the equivalent I guess would be if We Are Scientists showed up at the Great Escape and complained about David Cameron. Way to endear yourself to the crowd.

After such a fired up performance from Wales, Frank Turner had his work cut out for him. He’s been enjoying an increasingly bigger and more devoted fanbase in the States (good on him), so it’s really not a surprise to see so many people crammed in to one place for the expressed purpose of seeing him play. How unlucky am I: both times I’ve seen Turner, he’s been solo and minus the Sleeping Souls, his usual backing band. But as everyone who has seen him knows, him being by himself doesn’t affect the performance at all. In fact, I’m imagining without a band, he can be more personal and I think it actually works in the singer/songwriter’s favour. He proclaimed half his songs would be the hits and the other half would be new songs. With nearly any other artist, a statement like that would be met with boos, jeers and possible physical confrontation. Not these fans.

One of the standout new tracks was ‘Tattoos’: it’s witty as hell, making fun of people’s tattoos that sag and fade as the years wear on, but with the prevailing message that even though you might not believe in what you did when you got those tattoos, you wouldn’t trade the special memories of those days for anything. I forget the exact line now, but there’s one part of the lyrics where Turner is emphatic, saying he would go back in time and get all the same tattoos all over again, because those memories are so important to him.

A song about tattoos is pretty appropriate for Austin; I never could tell if it was because there were so many music industry types at SXSW (who, as we all know, can be covered in tats as well) or it’s because all the Austin locals have tattoos, but nearly everyone I saw roaming the streets during this festival had at least one arm completely covered or at least part of a back with body art. (On my last day in town, I saw a girl on a bus with tiger stripes tattooed across her face and from the neck down. No joke.)

No tattoos for me so I can’t really relate directly to Turner’s sentiment, but I do share his feelings on never forgetting your best memories. As crazy as SXSW was, looking back at it now, I can smile about the people I was lucky enough to spend time with and saw gig and laugh about some of the accidental run-ins with celebrities. So with day 1 done and dusted, I left Frank Turner’s adoring masses – the venue was rammed so punters were spilling out on to the street – and headed for a couple hours’ rest before the onslaught of day 2.

More photos (and in higher resolution too!) from this showcase can be viewed on my Flickr.

 
 
 

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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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