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SXSW 2018: Tuesday night with a mix of American, English and Scottish artists – 13th March 2018

 
By on Monday, 2nd April 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Tuesday evening at SXSW 2018 was a bit of a mixed bag, but as often happens with mixed bags, there were treasures waiting to be discovered within. I started my night session at the Seven Grand, which played host to the Killing Moon x ReverbNation showcase. The UK indie record label and the American artist development company had joined forces to create a strong lineup representing both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. I arrived early for an interview with London singer/songwriter Allman Brown (watch for that article to post in the coming days), but the action on stage started with Massachusetts rock band Lux Deluxe.

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I had never heard of Lux Deluxe before that Tuesday night, but they had a handful of devoted fans in the small crowd at the Seven Grand, as evidenced by the cheering and dancing that broke out as soon as the band hit the stage. To my ear, there was nothing particularly remarkable about their generic rock ‘n’ roll, but it was unquestionably energetic and there was nothing really offensive about it either. Unfortunately, my main impression was that lead singer Ned King, for all his enthusiasm, looked like Rick Moranis doing a bad Mick Jagger impersonation, and that mental image, once formed, was one that I couldn’t unsee.

Lux Deluxe 2

Unlike the exuberant band before him, Allman Brown came on stage alone and with a distinctly unassuming air about him. His banter with the gathering crowd was engaging, even to the point of distraction, until he mildly admonished an enthusiastic woman dressed in a panda suit [Amanda Panda – Ed.], “We’ll talk later, I’m kind of in the middle of something now.” Luckily, his impassioned singing soon had the crowd’s full attention. TGTF featured Brown’s track ‘Sons and Daughters’ in collaboration with Liz Lawrence in our (SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #397, but his solo acoustic performance at the Seven Grand was more powerful, and his latest ballad ‘Moonlight’ took on an even more delicate beauty.

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The remainder of the  Killing Moon x ReverbNation docket included UK bands Francobollo, Flyte, and Otzeki, but after Allman Brown’s lovely interlude, I excused myself and headed for the Driskill Hotel, whose Victorian Room is a sure bet if you want to hear singer/songwriters at SXSW. I was excited to see Chloe Foy, whom we also previewed ahead of her appearance in Austin, but I arrived early enough to catch the act on before her, Brooklyn folk duo The Brother Brothers.

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As with Lux Deluxe, I hadn’t acquainted myself with The Brother Brothers, who are actually twins Adam and David Moss. My ears were greeted with their graceful Americana sound as soon as I walked into the otherwise quiet Victorian Room, and I was immediately fascinated when I noticed that one of the brothers was plucking and strumming his violin in the style of a guitar. He would switch to the more traditional method as their set went on, and the instrumental harmonies between the violin and guitar were as simple and sweet as their vocal counterparts. Click here to watch The Brother Brothers perform their song ‘Tugboats’, and on an actual tugboat!

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In the interim after The Brother Brothers’ set, I took a seat on the carpeted floor, as is customary in the Victorian Room, to get a better vantage point for Chloe Foy. When I next looked up, I found myself sitting cross-legged next to NPR’s Bob Boilen. He and I have crossed paths before at SXSW, most memorably in 2016 when we both covered Brighton singer/songwriter Holly Macve. I wasn’t entirely surprised to see him, as Foy and Macve have similarly enchanting alt-folk overtones, though Foy’s influences lean more toward the delicate beauty of the English art song tradition. Foy played a mesmerising set at the Driskill, including the darkly dramatic ‘Fire and Flood’.

Coln Macleod internal

Scottish songwriter Colin Macleod might be considered an exception to the Driskill’s standard singer/songwriter fare, as his brand of folk rock is more alt-rock than folk-influenced. However, the emphasis on lyrical composition is clearly part of Macleod’s repertoire, and in that way, he fits quite nicely into the singer/songwriter category. Unfortunately, the reserved and decorous vibe of the venue didn’t entirely suit the style of his music, and his performance ultimately felt a bit constrained. The highlight of the set was his current single ‘Kicks In’, which did in fact lift the energy level in the room for at least a brief moment.

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Macleod’s set actually ran a bit short, so I had plenty of time to make my next appointment at B.D. Riley’s for Alabama indie rock band Belle Adair. I’ve typically visited B.D. Riley’s during the annual Full Irish Breakfast, so it initially felt a little strange for me to hear American accents coming from the small stage. However, Belle Adair’s mellow pop-rock was an easy adjustment to make, and their engaging warmth on stage clearly resonated with the crowd in the Irish pub. Listening to their current single ‘Get Away’ was indeed like taking a brief mental vacation from the hustle and bustle of SXSW; watch the official video just below

My final stop for the evening was at The Main II for an Irish rock band I’d first seen last year at B.D. Riley’s, The Academic. Mary was already at the venue when I arrived, and though we don’t typically double up on coverage, this was to be The Academic’s only SXSW 2018 show, and neither of us wanted to miss it. You might already have read Mary’s report on the show back here, so I’ll only add that this was a very different band to the four shy lads who stared at their shoes on the B.D. Riley’s stage a year ago. This time they had a hit album under their belts, and the room was full of young female fans, as well as a rowdy group of Irish punters who’d come specifically to see them play their 1 AM show. The Academic took full advantage of the triumphant mood, playing an exuberantly sweaty and altogether brilliant set to cap off their North American tour.

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SXSW 2018: Brits and Americans late Wednesday night – 14th March 2018 (Part 4)

 
By on Thursday, 29th March 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

BBC Sound of 2018 nominee Sam Fender hails from Newcastle, and it must be a boon to the young man to have been invited to play at the inaugural This is Tomorrow festival astride the Tyne in May. It just so happens I will be at that event, so I viewed seeing Fender in Austin, out of his normal environment, an exciting preview of his appearance back home in 2 months’ time. Although the North East singer/songwriter’s music on record sounds like the polished pop on the charts, a closer listen to each song reveals he’s got more on his mind than girls and relationships. There were definitely more young girls than guys of any age down the front waiting for him at Latitude 30.

Sam Fender Wednesday at SXSW 2018 3

“This is a song about going out on a Friday night and getting beat up” was how he introduced ‘Friday Fighting’ in a deadpan manner. I was struck by the cynicism of ‘Millennial’, it made me think of the kids of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and how some adults have attacked them for being “young and dumb”. You have to give Fender props for the conviction to stick to his guns thematically and lyrically. Carrie didn’t invoke Bruce Springsteen’s name in her preview of his appearance at SXSW 2018, but I’m going to go there now. His exuberant, powerful performance – playing a Fender guitar, of course – suggests he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

Sam Fender Wednesday at SXSW 2018 2

Bowing out of Latitude 30 after Fender left the stage, I popped over to Friends bar on 6th Street, which for me is one of the most underrated SXSW venues. There’s no cover, even during SXSW, and the bar goes on for quite a distance. Very rarely is it chockablock, which is a relief for those of us who suffer from claustrophobia and need room to breathe. Funny I just mentioned The Boss, as the artist who was finishing up at Friends was an artist from Asbury Park, New Jersey, which, at least to Americans, is associated in our minds with Springsteen. I think any artist coming from the town must know they will be compared to him and probably don’t want to go down the rock route.

Farrow (not to be confused with Leeds electronic artist Matt Farrow, who also goes by the same mononym) are an ambient duo from Jersey. The problem here was a mismatch of artist and venue. The level of sound from their electronics were no match for the size of the bar, and I couldn’t tell if this was a problem with amplification, or the act actually intended such a gentle performance. I’m intrigued by the tunes on their Soundcloud, so I’d guess they’d sound better in the right environment.

Annie Hart Wednesday at SXSW 2018

Carrie and I have surmised the past few years that artists are spending less time the week of SXSW in order to save on accommodation in Austin; shows with paltry attendance like this one and earlier in the week seem to support the idea that visitors to Austin, whether they be industry or not, are also cutting back on their time in town. Following Farrows was synthpop solo artist Annie Hart, of New York City’s Au Revoir Simone, a band I first heard of through their collaboration with Friendly Fires on their early hit ‘Paris’. She was dressed in an all, black, body-hugging outfit, making it easy for her to dance, even while she was playing her Nord keyboard. Despite her sprightliness and giving it her all on songs like the melancholic ‘I Don’t Want Your Love’, Hart’s performance fell flat in the absence of an audience to listen to her, which was a real shame.

I returned to the Townsend for the final two acts of the Focus Wales showcase. At least that was the plan. Feted up-and-coming house artist Doc Daneeka was supposed to be onstage by the time I arrived. Instead, I found him scratching his head and working with who I later found out was an ill-prepared SXSW staff member who was pinch-hitting for the actual sound man and ended up frying some of his equipment by trying to plug in UK plugs into an American socket. The labels on this power strip at Latitude 30 may be the way to go for UK artists at SXSW in the future, eh? The Focus Wales staff kept offering me drinks but as it was so late, I decided to sit down and wait until they got it together. More than half an hour behind schedule, Doc Daneeka admirably rolled with the punches, spinning on his two turntables a smooth, mesmerising set that was welcome after a long day of work and play in Austin. Two house fans excitedly approached him after he finished, wanting to shake his hand and get photographs with him; I’m sure this meant so much after playing to a small crowd.

Doc Daneeka Wednesday at SXSW 2018 2

Rachel K Collier was given the last slot at the Townsend. Like Doc Daneeka, she had trouble getting her equipment hooked up and working. I hung on for as long as I could, until nearly 2 AM, before I finally cried uncle and had to drag my feet back to the hotel. I was glad to have seen Collier the night before at the British Music Embassy and despite my missing third appearance of the week, I’m confident I’ll get another chance to see her play sometime soon. For more photos of my Wednesday night at SXSW 2018, visit my Flickr.

 

SXSW 2018: catching Brits and Europeans Wednesday night – 14th March 2018 (Part 3)

 
By on Wednesday, 28th March 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

After getting our drink on at the Focus Wales drink reception, I left Carrie to catch two Welsh acts before running down nearly to the other end of the busy part of East 6th Street, ending up at the very colourful Esther’s Follies for my first visit in 7 years. In its normal, non-SXSW form, the place puts on comedy and vaudeville shows. As you should expect, there’s theatre-type seating in this venue, which offers the unique opportunity for a photographer to get real close to the artists while the rest of the audience, well, is comfortably seated and a good distance away from the stage.

The 8 PM slot isn’t always a great one at SXSW 2018, but it worked out wonderfully for Austrian duo Leyya and their live band. I featured them in one of four preview write-ups I did for the Music Bloggers Guide to SXSW 2018. Even though they were classed in the avant / experimental genre in this year’s SXSW schedule, in reality what Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer are doing is putting together the best bits of pop, soul, electronic and percussive music. This is music designed to get your body moving and grooving but without the pretension of intellectual electronic but with more bite and presence than the average pop band. They’re exactly the kind of act who make me excited about the future of music: artists who are willing to take chances, stepping out of the mainstream box and trying something different, with amazing results. My only wish for their performance was to have more people swinging their partners to and fro to their music!

Leyya Wednesday at SXSW 2018 2

I got hung up at Esther’s Follies for longer than I expected – I indulged a Leyya superfan and took a photo of her and Sophie after their set – so I decided a nice saunter over to the Waller Ballroom was better than trying to rush off somewhere else. The Waller Ballroom was Dutch New Wave’s venue for the week, having an indoor space plus a nice biergarden outside. I’m sure it was something else previously, but the door staff couldn’t tell me what it used to be. Once inside, I was surprised by the weird, rectangular shape of the room, the stage more than twice as long as the room’s depth. It made for strange options for photography, that’s for sure.

A parade of white and black Dutch people came through the doors after I arrived, talking up a storm, slapping each other on the back. While I couldn’t understand what they were saying, it was clear they showed up to provide support to their friends The Homesick from Dokkum. Living in a country so divided by race like ours, such a simple thing between friends was heartwarming to me. Then it was time for the band to take the stage. While going through all the bands scheduled to appear in Austin from the Continent, The Homesick were in my top five bands I definitely wanted to see. They’re a young band, but they’ve already figured out how to write a compelling song, compelling in the sense that their songwriting captures your imagination and keeps you wanting more. The driving guitars and drumbeats in their rock songs are simultaneously weird and wonderful. Watching Elias Elgersma wail on his guitar with awe-inspiring dexterity, I realised I was experiencing something special indeed. Read my preview of their appearance in Austin through here.

The Homesick Wednesday at SXSW 2018 3

Having gotten an appropriate Homesick fix, I intended to catch American duo Bat Fangs at Barracuda’s indoor stage as part of the Ground Control Touring showcase there. Oddly, my press pass didn’t let me in. Rebuffed, instead of waiting, I thought I’d just go around the corner to the 720 Club and wait for The RPMs to start their set. Brighton’s newest hope for the next big British guitar band were setting up in the hole in the wall club.

Which I mean quite literally. The band are a five-piece and only the keyboardist and drummer could fit on the stage. This was definitely an opportunity to get up close and personal with your musical idols! Although the rough and tumble nature of the venue seemed more appropriate for a punk band, the RPMs filled the room with their brand of glittery synthpop and rock and this show, along with their appearance at the British Music Embassy Friday afternoon, showed they have loads of potential to be as big as their own influences. Read my SXSW 2018 preview piece on The RPMs through here.

The RPMs Wednesday at SXSW 2018
As you can see, the stage was brightly lit at the 720 Club, but the floor wasn’t.

Then it was time to pop back to the British Music Embassy. I didn’t need to see Frank Turner there, as I knew uber fan Carrie would catch him during the week some point. However, I did want to get into Latitude 30 early enough for Sam Fender and not have to jockey for a good position to see him and his band playing. As you might imagine, Frank Turner was a huge draw for Brits and Americans alike, so the place was one in, one out when I arrived. I’m not sure why this hadn’t occurred to Latitude 30 staff until that moment – maybe it was because it had been unseasonably cold in Austin since we arrived? – but they decided that night to open up the windows so those in the queues could hear Turner play. He ended his set with a rousing version of ‘Polaroid Picture’ that had nearly everyone inside and outside singing along. I recognised the song but not knowing the words, I just bobbed my head to the beat. Good enough, right? For more photos from my Wednesday at SXSW 2018, visit my Flickr.

 

SXSW 2018: Monday night with American bands at the Mohawk – 12th March 2018

 
By on Friday, 23rd March 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

My time in Austin for SXSW 2018 was a little bit condensed in comparison to past years. Mary and I have typically both arrived early to catch the beginning of the music festival action (which Mary was able to do this year as well; you can read her Monday reports here and here). But this year, I didn’t arrive in Austin until Monday evening, so as soon as my flight landed at Bergstrom International Airport, I made a mad dash for downtown to catch as much music as I possibly could. After a quick stop at the Convention Center to grab my credentials, I headed to the Mohawk on Red River, which was already almost full in anticipation of the three American bands on the evening’s lineup.

Bully

The first band on the Mohawk’s outdoor stage was Nashville grunge rock band Bully. We previewed them in our (SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2785, and their performance at the Mohawk was true to that preview. They sounded very much like a female-fronted version of Nirvana, but it must be said that frontwoman Alica Bognanno’s distinctive vocals add an interesting flavour to that swampy, heavily distorted sound. It’s a little hard to believe that music like this is coming out of Nashville, the country music capital of the world, but not at all hard to see why Bully are signed to Sub Pop, Nirvana’s former label.

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Both the mood and the lighting at the Mohawk changed for Baltimore’s Wye Oak, who took the stage next. Frontwoman Jenn Wassner immediately announced that things were about to get “vibe-y”, and she delivered on that promise with a set full of new songs from the band’s forthcoming LP ‘The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs’. Wassner confessed that this was the first time the band had played them live, as well as the first time they’d performed as a trio (the typical duo is comprised of Wassner and drummer Andy Stack). Dreamy and atmospheric, but with a distinct rhythmic quality, the new tracks made a positive impression on the fans in Austin. ‘The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs’ is due for release on the 6th of April via Merge Records; listen to the title track just below.

It’s no coincidence that Wye Oak played just ahead of the final act of the night, veteran North Carolina rock band Superchunk (pictured at top), whose members Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan founded Merge Records back in 1989. Superchunk, touring here with bassist Jason Narducy in Ballance’s place, released their 11th studio album ‘What a Time to Be Alive’ earlier this year.

Having never before listened to Superchunk, I wasn’t sure what to expect from them, but they clearly had a good number of enthusiastic fans in the Mohawk crowd. The unapologetically political themes in Superchunk’s new songs were no affront to those long-time listeners, but the energy in the venue ramped up exponentially when the band played their older favourites, especially set closer ‘Slack Motherfucker.’ Despite their longevity in the music business, Superchunk’s career has been anything but slack in recent years, as evidenced by the driving energy of eponymous album track ‘What a Time to Be Alive’ and the delight of their fans in Austin late on the SXSW Monday night.

 

SXSW 2018: artists from all over Tuesday night – 13th March 2018 (Part 2)

 
By on Thursday, 22nd March 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Like Tuesdays, Monday nights at SXSW aren’t usually that busy. Generally, there’s a dearth of showcases. At SXSW 2018, there was plenty for me to see and plenty of acts for me to tick off my list, which was great news. English singer/songwriter Gemma Ray, who now calls Berlin home, opened the evening at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary. Resplendent in bright yellow and blue, Ray conjured up a blend of country, folk and blues with her backing band of a keyboardist and drummer. It’s too bad that the early start of her set meant she played only to a half-full room.

Gemma Ray Tuesday at SXSW 2018

Holy Motors from Estonia were up next at St. David’s. As one of my tips for SXSW 2018, the five member strong, female-fronted group from Tallinn captured my ears, along with those of domestic SiriusXM Alt Nation station DJs. The sound of Eliann Tulve’s intonings, along with her bandmates’ droning guitars, made for a mesmerising sound. At times, the lack of movement from the guitarists, except of course to strum the strings on their instruments, made it seem they themselves were self-hypnotised to their songs. Holy Motors’ sound is beautiful, indeed, but they’re a less than exciting proposition live.

Holy Motors Tuesday at SXSW 2018 2

To inject a bit more liveliness into my evening, I headed down to 6th Street, specifically to B.D. Riley’s, for some Americans’ antics. Orange County long-haired rockers The Jacks had already begun a hair-raising set, the punters assembled for them down close to the stage and excited to hear them knock out song after song. Although a friend commented to me that they sounded and looked like every other band from Orange County, after Holy Motors’ set, their raucous rock was like a welcome splash of cold water to the face. They were only in town for 2 nights, stopping through Austin during their tour of Texas.

The Jacks Tuesday at SXSW 2018

Having been brought back to life by The Jacks, I bounded over to nearby Latitude 30 for a visit to the BBC Introducing / PRS Foundation-sponsored showcase at the British Music Embassy. I had some good fortune to catch one of only two evening appearances by Jerry Williams (pictured at top), whose name sounds like a country and western artist. In actuality, she’s an up-and-coming young singer/songwriter from Portsmouth. Unsigned as of the time she embarked to her trip to Austin, her (dare I say it) young girl adorable, bouncy voice and poppy tunes probably hit the spot to more than a few A&Rs in the audience.

Following Williams was another talented up-and-coming female artist, Swansea’s Rachel K Collier. Like Williams, she has been self-releasing and -producing her own music, part of the growing cabal of strong young women showing the boys, not to mention the industry, that they know what they’re doing, can do it all by themselves and with incredible results.

Rachel K Collier Tuesday at SXSW 2018 2

Electronic has notoriously been a difficult genre for women to break through in. Collier’s smarts in creating seriously catchy beats and melodies, while also inserting her personal touch with lyrics about her own life and experiences, has translated to dance music that connects to both dance and electronic fans, along with those who want more. Stepping occasionally from behind her electronics and into centre stage at the venue to sing and pogo along with the audience, the Welsh talent proved she can put on an exciting stage show. Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Collier conducted in Austin soon here on TGTF.

I stayed put at the British Music Embassy for a brief taste of highly hyped, 2018 NME Under the Radar Award winners Manchester band Pale Waves, who Carrie previewed back in January. While I knew they were tour and label mates with the massively popular, and SXSW 2013 alumni The 1975, I didn’t realise how closely their pop/rock songs mimicked those of their Manchester friends. Whereas Rachel K Collier and her percussionist Rhii brought bright colours to Latitude 30, Pale Waves turned things decidedly monochrome, frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie favouring checkerboard trousers, making me think of another SXSW showcasing band, The Specials. Her thick eyeliner was reminiscent of one her biggest band influence, Robert Smith and The Cure.

Carrie and I crossed paths at the Victorian Room at the Driskill Hotel, her catching Manchester’s Chloe Foy and Scot Colin Macleod before I arrived. I hung around during what seemed a particularly long soundcheck for Oxfordshire’s Rhys Lewis (see my preview feature on him here). He and his band were having trouble with multiple devices, including the pedal to his piano. Maybe he would have been better off with an acoustic set like this one filmed by the BBC on 6th Street? I haven’t spent much time in the performance space in the historic hotel over the years I’ve done SXSW and this year, I felt this niggling discomfort in the room while I waited. While his vocals on recent single ‘Bloodstains’ and ode to London ‘Living in the City’ sounded great, the venue just didn’t seem quite right for the singer/songwriter, as punters sat cross-legged in front of him, giving the performance a primary school feel and not one of being at SXSW.

Rhys Lewis Tuesday at SXSW 2018

My final band of Tuesday night were Mullingar’s The Academic, who both Carrie and I covered at SXSW 2017. Having just finished their first major North American tour, the Irish pop/rock group were able to fit in this special performance at The Main II, a return to Austin to cap off their time in our country. At the start of this year, they released their debut album ‘Tales from the Backseat’, a collection of fun, toe-tapping tunes. Read my review of the LP through here. They played an unusually long set by SXSW standards; I was half-expecting the light to be switched on and for them to get the hook at some point, but venue staff let them keep going.

The Academic Tuesday at SXSW 2018

The crowd was a mix of fans who had the album and people who had never heard of them. It’s unclear where the locally-based Irish students fit in this spectrum, but as several of my Irish musician friends have repeated to me, “if an Irish band is playing, we all come out and show our support”. Hooting and hollering ensued during and between songs, including singles ‘Bear Claws’ and ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends?’ They ended their set with an amazing cover of ‘Linger’ by the Cranberries. I got chills as all of us in the venue sang along with the and with gusto. While they didn’t explicitly say so, I’m sure the decision to include it was a loving tribute to the late Dolores O’Riordan who died unexpectedly in January. Theirs was a wonderful, well-formed set that showed maturity, the result of plain ol’ hard work in this often fickle business. It was hard to believe this was the same band I saw at the Music from Ireland showcase last year. Upwards and onwards! For more photos from my Tuesday night at SXSW 2018, go here.

 

SXSW 2018: Hamburg x Berlin Music and Interactive Night and DIY Presents at the British Music Embassy – 12th March 2018

 
By on Wednesday, 21st March 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

It’s important to note that now that SXSW Conference badgeholders for the Film and Interactive conferences have secondary access to all Music showcases for a second year, they’re staying longer in Austin to make their time in town more worthwhile by checking out events from the other two festivals. This phenomenon, of course, impacts capacity at the music festival venues, making things more difficult for the wristband holders and anyone wishing to pay a cover to get into a venue. Carrie can speak to her opinion on this in her posts but for me, in general, the secondary access hasn’t affected me that badly, because the acts I tend to see are indie artists who aren’t on Americans’ radars yet. There is nothing better than seeing an act playing an entirely relaxed show to a handful of people, knowing they’re heading for greatness and you saw them first.

I’m noting it in this piece because as in past years, Monday night at SXSW 2018 was another relatively slow night showcase-wise. As a result, long lines seemed to be everywhere. I had great plans to stop into a few different showcases. Instead, I had to pare by my expectations, but I had some unexpected finds that made my evening pretty special. DIY Presents returned for a second year, this time bringing two bands who had appeared at Latitude 30 and four making their first visit to the venue, two of those that I saw.

Breakfast Muff Monday at SXSW 2018 2

The evening there began with Scottish punks Breakfast Muff. Taking a quick look at the set list, I noted they had an awfully long list of songs. Then I considered for a band like theirs, their tunes were likely to be 2 minutes or less. I wasn’t wrong. They made quick work of the first 1/3 of their set, blasting out song after song with impressive ferocity. While virtually unknown prior to their coming out for SXSW, I’d expect the young band’s star to rise significantly upon the release of their next EP ‘Crocodile’ on the 6th of April.

World Brain Monday at SXSW 2018 2

Once I’d had enough of Breakfast Muff, I headed to Barracuda, which has hosted the always reliable Monday night showcase starring German artists. On the indoor stage, World Brain opened the Hamburg X Berlin Music and Interactive Night on a wigged out, humorous note. World Brain is the solo project of long-haired, bespectacled Berlin-based Frenchman Lucas Ufo, who is also a member of Berlin group Fenster. The solo artist performed his brand of off-kilter, oddly catchy, bluesy alt-rock with a photograph of puppies sat in front of his laptop. To get a flavour of his music, watch this performance from Cologne last November. It doesn’t entirely do his music justice, though: he broke out a clarinet for one of the songs this night, an unexpected surprise.

Just steps away, playing at the Barracuda backyard patio was Emma Elisabeth, a Berlin-based Swedish singer/songwriter, and her band. Her style is jangly guitar pop, drawing obvious comparisons to ‘80s band The Bangles and acts similar. While her sound isn’t earth-shattering, she has an enjoyable enough voice that I could see her music being picked up for use in syncs.

Emma Elisabeth Monday at SXSW 2018

Back over to the indoor stage, it was Fenster’s turn. Named after the German word for “window”, they are an experimental pop band who’ve been going for a good decade now and have appeared at SXSW before. With their unusual song structures and instruments beyond the usual suspects in rock bands, they provided the ears with something wonderfully different.

Catholic Action Monday at SXSW 2018

I returned to Latitude 30, encountering my first major queue at SXSW 2018. It’s with some irony that I couldn’t get in for Catholic Action, one of the four acts I wrote about in the Music Bloggers Guide to SXSW 2018. Even in a queue outside, once security decided to crack open the windows facing San Jacinto Boulevard, I could groove to their glam rock tunes. I finally made it in for the Glaswegians’ last few tunes. They ended their set with their clap-happy single ‘L.U.V’, which met with big cheers from the crowd.

Francobollo Monday at SXSW 2018 2

London-based Swedes Francobollo were up next. They sound more like an American band than a European one, their music focusses on big guitar chords and harmonies. The booming nature of their grunge-y sound made them a good act to follow Catholic Action. We had an early morning on Tuesday, so I bid my first adieu to Latitude 30 for 2018. To see more photos from my Monday night at SXSW 2018, come through.

 
 
 

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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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