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SXSW 2017: visits to St. David’s, the Velveeta Room and the British Music Embassy (Friday, part 2) – 17th March 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 4th April 2017 at 3:00 pm
 

I want to add another rule to those I presented yesterday as part of how I saw five bands in 1 hour on my Thursday night at SXSW 2017. Rule #5: take advantage of secondary or even tertiary shows your favourite artist is playing. Knowledge is power, and any research you do into additional shows an artist is playing will help you make the most of your time in Austin. Research is not just for the purpose of avoiding schedule clashes: smaller, less prominently advertised shows, especially those off the beaten path, are likely to give you the priceless opportunities to meet your heroes and/or to see them in more intimate settings. And if you’re anything like me (short and small) and have any level of claustrophobia, this is an unsaid key to keeping your sanity during SXSW.

For a long while, the only show Berlin-based Dane Agnes Obel had scheduled at SXSW was Thursday night at Clive Bar, in the Rainey Street area of the city. Unfortunately (for me anyway), closer to the time of SXSW, it was announced Clive Bar would become the Twin Peaks Showtime venue to celebrate the reboot of the cult tv show. Further, on Thursday night the showcase would host a very special appearance by none other than FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper himself, Kyle MacLachlan. Coupled with the announcement that ‘90s boy band Hanson would be appearing at Bungalow around the corner, it didn’t make sense walking all that way and to queue up only to be disappointed.

Thankfully, Obel announced a second show at the main room at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary as part of the Communion Presents showcase, which afforded her fans like me to have a better chance of seeing her and to be able to sit down while doing so. Many did, filling the venue easily and well before she even took the stage. SXSW was just one stop in her North American tour that had already passed through the East Coast the week before. I’m still unclear why venues seem to think throwing red light on their performers is a good idea. The celebrated Obel and her truly international, all female backing band were under a sea of crimson for her entire set, so I took a rare break at shooting bands at St. David’s.

Released in autumn 2016, her third and latest album ‘Citizen of Glass’ demonstrates the imaginative Dane’s commitment to defying convention in an industry where fitting in is de rigueur. With a flurry of instruments both conventional (piano, guitar, drums) and unusual (cello, celesta, mandolin) the unique performance was beautiful, especially in the confines of such a hallowed space. ‘Stretch Your Eyes’, which I reviewed ahead of SXSW, was a masterpiece live, exceeding all my expectations.

While there are two queues for the two stages at St. David’s, the main room and Bethell Hall, I can think of only one time I’ve been in Bethell Hall in the last 6 years where the place has been packed and they weren’t letting anyone in. In that respect, it’s a placid, infrequently visited SXSW venue hidden in plain sight. Good news for me, as I was wanting to catch up on the new material from an artist who had wowed me in DC a few years ago. Stepping out of Agnes Obel’s show a little early, I was able to catch the tail-end of another set here.

Bethell Hall is less pretentious than its name suggests. It has a recreation / social room-type vibe, and therefore it has more of an everyman flavour. While it’s not like I didn’t enjoy his set at B.D. Riley’s Thursday morning at the Full Irish Breakfast, there’s something very special about seeing Ciaran Lavery performing in such of a room. Think about where many legendary singers of popular music honed their craft: that’s right, with their families and in the church.

Ciaran Lavery, St. David's Historic Sanctuary, Bethell Hall, Friday 17 March 2017

With the acoustics of the bare walls of Bethell Hall bouncing back Lavery’s gritty yet gorgeous vocals and acoustic guitar chords to us, you couldn’t have asked for a better venue to see the Northern Irishman. Deadpanning that he would warn us next time if he was to perform another set of “overly positive songs”, he had the audience not only in rapt attention but also chuckling at his dry Irish wit. Ending with an incomprehensibly rich sounding a capella version of Tom Waits’ ‘If I Have to Go’, it’s not an understatement to say Ciaran Lavery slayed the audience at Bethell Hall.

Ciaran Lavery, St. David's Historic Sanctuary, Bethell Hall, Friday 17 March 2017, 2

It fell to Oxfordshire’s Lewis Watson to follow such a great performance. The contrast was unfortunately stark, as even though I don’t think the two artists differ that much in age, lack of festival experience (or perhaps lack of practice in recent months) showed in Watson’s comparatively lacklustre set. While I am very familiar with and loved Watson’s 2014 breakthrough LP ‘the morning’, I haven’t yet had a chance to listen to his latest album released the week after SXSW, ‘midnight’. Based on his performance in Austin, I’m not sure I want to. Maybe his latest breakup knocked him harder than he’s willing to admit? The one bright spot of new material was the wispy ‘Hello Hello’, in which he asked the audience to join in.

Lewis Watson, St. David's Historic Sanctuary, Bethell Hall, Friday 17 March 2017

Watson’s nervously chuckled assurances that the new songs sounds better with his full backing band and his asking us to imagine one song or another with a thumping drum beat implies, whether he meant it or not, that these new songs cannot stand on their own in their original form in which they were written. Further, while I completely understand the prohibitive travel and visa costs involved in bringing a full band over from England to America, one wonders why Watson appeared at SXSW solo at all, when a North American tour with his band was already in the works for later in the spring. It’s also hard to overlook that he broke not one, but two strings in the middle of his set. Chalk it all up to nerves or unpreparedness, but I was sorely disappointed.

After a quick brisket and coleslaw break and a gawk at and a farewell wave to the hordes already queued up to see Rag’n’Bone Man’s show in St. David’s main room at 1 AM, I headed back down to 6th Street. It was St. Patrick’s Day, so a visit to The Velveeta Room’s Music from Ireland showcase was definitely in order. (Sadly, there was not even time for a Guinness!) I had been interviewing Hull punks LIFE at the British Music Embassy while Carrie caught the Academic at the Full Irish Breakfast Thursday afternoon. It was now my turn to catch part of a set by the band I’d been wanting to see live for a long time.

The Academic, Music from Ireland showcase, The Velveeta Room, Friday 17 March 2017

Having seen the Music from Ireland showcase at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room for so many years, I have to say the Velveeta Room feels like a much better venue for the bands. It also oddly reminds me of The Tivoli where MFI’s Canadian Music Week showcase was in 2016, so it has that going for it. The Academic from Mullingar were worth the wait. Full of the fun and vigour that made me fall in love with Two Door Cinema Club back in 2009, they brought an intensity and energy to the venue that only youth can. Singer/guitarist Craig Fitzgerald is an effective frontman, leading his band into every dynamic number, from single ‘Mixtape 2003’ that we reviewed last summer to their 2015 EP standout ‘Different’. Check out my very funny interview with the whole band that we did after their set through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu8M3Cw6fuU[/youtube]

I then returned to the British Music Embassy for the BBC Introducing / PRS for Music showcase to witness Glasgow pop rockers Catholic Action have Latitude 30’s punters in the palm of their hand. They proved that being given a much bigger room that earlier at the Mohawk was no problem at all. (Stay tuned for Carrie’s report of their performance Saturday afternoon at El Sapo, which was additional evidence that outdoor Mexican-themed venues are no match for them either.) Following the Scots was another band I’d been recommended to see, though to be honest, I was expecting it to be full of shenanigans. I wasn’t wrong, and it seemed everyone who was there that Friday night to see them couldn’t talk about anyone or anything else the last day of SXSW.

Bristol punks IDLES (yes, all caps again) are probably best known to 6 Music listeners for their track ‘WELL DONE’, which hilariously name-checks not only Steve Lamacq but also ex-Great British Bakeoff octagenarian Mary Berry having a job and enjoying reggae. People are angry with what’s going on in Britain and in a similar vein to what LIFE are doing in East Yorkshire, IDLES are the South West equivalent in providing the opening of a pressure valve. In Red Hot Chili Peppers-style, guitarist Mark Bowen seems to enjoy performing in nothing but his underpants, which if you’re a photographer is not for the faint of heart.

IDLES, British Music Embassy, BBC Introducing / PRS for Music showcase, Latitude 30, Friday 17 March 2017

I get that it’s part of their anarchic style that continues into their debut album ‘BRUTALISM’ out now, but it’s distracting (I think negatively) from the messages Joe Talbot wants to send in his lyrics. Their live performance is everything you would expect: a ruckus onstage, leading to equally crazy scenes down on the floor. IDLES did everything they set out to do: create havoc.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Oxqf_15k0w[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2017: rap plus old friends, new friends and a pop princess at the British Music Embassy (Wednesday night, part 2) – 15th March 2017

 
By on Thursday, 30th March 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

I saw Marika Hackman enjoying the music at the British Music Embassy that afternoon. She recognised me from when I interviewed her 2 years ago at the 9:30 Club, when she was out here touring with her mates Laura Marling and Johnny Flynn. She held both of my hands excitedly. “You must come see us tonight. I have a brand new band!” How could I refuse? Again, I had thought that I’d arrive with the latest set at the BME in full swing, but that was before I saw how much gear she and her band were trying to set up on Latitude 30’s stage.


Marika Hackman, BBC Radio 2, British Music Embassy, Latitude 30, Wednesday 15 March 2017

After an emotionally graceful album like her debut ‘We Slept at Last’, ‘Boyfriend’ comes as across as a jarring, yet liberating moment. Its lo-fi drawl is further enhanced by on record and live – wait for it – London girl group The Big Moon as her backing band! Either Marika thought I knew, or she wanted it to be a surprise. If you read my interview with her 2 years ago, she explained to me her massive respect for Laura Marling and what walls she broke down for the women who came after her. Given that she had once told me how tentative she felt sharing her music, it looks like from the acres of fun she and her band have onstage, her upcoming sophomore album for Sub Pop, ‘I’m Not Your Man’ out the 2nd of June, will be showing the real Marika Hackman, warts and all. A woman who’s comfortable in her own skin is a wonderful thing indeed.

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

It’s funny that Hackman is now with Sub Pop, as the next artist I chanced across at the Swan Dive Patio is on the same label. Porter Ray (surname Sullivan) is an American up-and-coming rapper who I learned from my research is part of the underrated Seattle hip-hop scene. He came to Austin to promote his long-awaited debut album ‘Watercolor’, released the Friday before SXSW.


Porter Ray, Swan Dive Patio, Wednesday 15 March 2017

Of course with Nirvana and Pearl Jam, the Northwest city famed for its dreary, rainy days is most famous for its responsibility in kickstarting the ‘90s grunge scene. Is he the first of an upcoming rap division in Sub Pop’s otherwise indie arsenal? I couldn’t tell if his less than energetic stage presence had to do solely with his subject matter (his brother was killed by gunshot) or if he was just really, really nervous. While I’m no expert on rap, I could appreciate the higher pitch of his voice, unusual for a genre where darker, deeper, menacing voices are preferred and tend to prevail.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg0y8hRXyfg[/youtube]

The next act at the Swan Dive Patio should have been Mullally, who triumphantly announced on Twitter just days before SXSW that he had signed to Atlantic Records. I waited around for the Norfolk neo-soul singer, chuckling to myself and rubbing my hands like Mr. Burns in the near empty venue that I would be one of the first to hear the next big thing out of East Anglia. I waited for what seemed like forever. A DJ set up his turntables on the stage. I finally went up to chat with the stage manager who told me sorry, Mullally would not be performing because “he decided he wanted to save his voice for his performance on Saturday.” Ahem. Okay. Back to Latitude 30, then…


Kate Nash, BBC Radio 2, British Music Embassy, Latitude 30, Wednesday 15 March 2017

After negotiating the badge queue, I finally got in to find myself in the midst of Kate Nash’s coronation, practically. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised how mental people in the venue were going, given her debut album ‘Made of Bricks’ is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and she’s inspired countless young girls to greater things. I stepped way back from the stage to let the uberfans get closer to their idol, churning through hits like ‘Mouthwash’ and ‘Foundations’. Even from afar, I could see sparkly stripts of things, fishnets and fuzzy pink balls all over Nash’s body. At least for that hour at the British Music Embassy, it was Kate Nash’s world.

My final act for Wednesday night would be Ten Tonnes, aka Ethan Barnett, who wowed me at the Culture Collide / Twix showcase at Bar 96 that afternoon. He would be the second to last act on the BBC Radio 2, PPL, and PRS for Music showcase. Compared to that fireball Kate Nash before him, his set was conservative, bringing things back to the music. Dressed in a plaid shirt – it was an evening show after all, right? – there was something so sweet about his set. I realised he reminded me of a dear friend, before he and his band became famous.

Here we were, presented with the two extremes in performance in music today, an industry veteran with all the bells and whistles followed by an up-and-comer with nothing but his voice and guitar. The fact that both of these can live in harmony in our industry, neither getting muscled out by the other, should give us all hope that the business can sustain not only established artists but nurture those coming up.


Ten Tonnes, BBC Radio 2, British Music Embassy, Latitude 30, Wednesday 15 March 2017

 

SXSW 2017: the Killing Moon / ReverbNation / Metro showcase (part 2) and BBC Radio 1 / PRS for Music / PPL showcase – 14th March 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 28th March 2017 at 5:00 pm
 

Upon my return to Scratchouse for the second half of the evening, I was pleased to see that Manningtree’s SuperGlu were proving their reception Monday night at the British Music Embassy wasn’t sheer dumb luck. (And if you missed the first half of my Tuesday evening, you can read it back here.) While the room at the indoor stage was certainly smaller than that of Latitude 30, SuperGlu proved they could draw a big, not to mention animated and engaged crowd without the promotional muscle of the BME.

Interestingly and somewhat headscratchingly, Killing Moon, ReverbNation and London newspaper Metro chose to put the quieter acts for their Tuesday night showcase on the backyard stage at Scratchouse. I guess they thought people who would coming out to the backyard would want to sit on the benches? Folk rocker Reuben Bidez is originally from Atlanta, but a relocation to Nashville appears to have done him good, according to American Songwriter. TGTF readers know this kind of music isn’t my bailiwick but rather up Carrie’s alley, so we’ll be sure to keep an eye on Bidez’s progress in his new locale going forward.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9eFQzHG2tg[/youtube]

As part of our TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 previewing acts from the South of England, Steven described Guildford’s Annabel Allum as a free spirit, one who “refuses to be pigeonholed or adhering to any kind of fad.” While I was keen on seeing Allum live, as it happens all too often at SXSW, it’s difficult to focus on a single musician when so much stuff is going on around you, in the venues nearby and with the buzz of chatter of punters who aren’t paying attention to who’s on stage. Under the eerie glow of lights on the backyard stage and wearing a flowy blouse, I got the feeling like Mt. Wolf earlier in the evening that a conventional club atmosphere (or even a coffee shop?) would have done Allum more favours.

Annabel Allum, Killing Moon, ReverbNation, Metro UK, Scratchouse, Tuesday 14 March 2017

Turning my attention back to the indoor stage at Scratchouse, it was time for Dine Alone Records act Mantra (stylized Måntra, as I understand it for purely legal reasons) to take the stage. Definitely more my speed. Growing up with the music of Led Zeppelin thanks to an older brother who for a time only listened to music designed pummel your eardrums and annoy parents, there will always be a part of me that wishes I could play guitar like Jimmy Page. Mantra are probably the closest these days I’m going to get to Led Zeppelin and one better, they seem to be taking the best of what England’s grand rock tradition of the last 20 years has had to offer into their sound. Namely Muse, or at least before Matt Bellamy went commercial (I haven’t forgotten you getting into bed with Twilight, Matt), too out there and sometimes just plain annoying.

Mantra, Killing Moon, ReverbNation, Metro UK, Scratchouse, Tuesday 14 March 2017

We’ve gone through an unusual period of seeing duos like Drenge, Royal Blood and Slaves prove you don’t need more than two people in a hard rock band. However, my memory goes back far enough to remember a time when rock trios like The Joy Formidable were questioned for their ability to pack in the firepower. There’s no such question in the case of Ealing’s Mantra. This is hard driving, pulse thumping rock for the headbanger, and this is the band who will renew your faith that good, hard rock can still be found in England. Check out my interview with the band in Austin through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVGqb9gJnSw[/youtube]

SYKES, Killing Moon, ReverbNation, Metro UK, Scratchouse, Tuesday 14 March 2017

Time for a quick dash back to the backyard for my final band at Scratchouse for the night, SYKES. The band is named for frontwoman Julia Sykes, lead singer and keyboardist for the band. They’ve had an interesting ride so far, having recently appeared at the traditionally hard rocking Warped tour, wowing crowds with their self-described alt-electropop. Sykes, in a Chicago-themed hoodie, was the epitome of composure, and it’s not surprising, given that their band showcased last year in Austin and weren’t suffering from SXSW virgin sensory overload. It’s just too bad that there was a bigger crowd for Sykes’ yearning voice and their buzzy, crunchy synth beats, as this is exactly the kind of band I’d expect SiriusXM’s Alt Nation to pick up on.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVHOAZ6UIAA[/youtube]

We don’t do a lot of writing about hip hop and grime on TGTF because, as I repeated quite a bit in Austin to friends, I just don’t feel comfortable about us writing about it if it’s a genre we don’t know a lot about. Dave, also known as Santan Dave, which explains his otherwise unusual Twitter handle @santandave1, was longlisted for the BBC Sound of 2017, so it was nice to see the BBC put him on the Tuesday night British Music Embassy showcase sponsored by Radio 1, PRS for Music and PPL.

Dave, Radio 1, PRS for Music, PPL showcase, British Music Embassy, Tuesday 14 March 2017

I’ve still got a lot to learn about how this genre is morphing and expanding its reach in the UK. But even without knowing much about this Streatham native, standing there in Latitude 30 as punters looked on silent and in rapt attention, you knew you were witnessing greatness. It must have been a terrifying moment for Dave to perform on such a stage and at such a young age. But he must also have felt incredible validation by the reception he received in Austin.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2H0mXC2Wbs[/youtube]

Kent punk duo Slaves are no stranger to Austin and SXSW, or to TGTF for that matter. As rightly noted by drummer and master of ceremonies Isaac Holman from the stage of Latitude 30, they performed previously and on a Radio 1 showcase in 2014. I got on the Slaves bandwagon pretty late, which was probably for the best, as I refused to be swept up by the hype and wanted to decide for myself if they were an act I wanted to follow. Suffice to say, I finally got on, not so much for their musical prowess than for the sheer fun of their music. Let’s face it: Slaves’ specialty is hard, fast, in your face tunes, whilst also being tongue in cheek. Who else would subject one of their crew to crowdsurfing in a manta ray suit for their ‘art’? And really, how smart was it of Holman it to be wearing a coonskin cap, a symbol of American frontiersman Davy Crockett and a symbol of white entitlement, during this period of unprecedented racial prejudice in our country? I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he had no idea.

Slaves, Radio 1, PRS for Music, PPL showcase, British Music Embassy, Tuesday 14 March 2017

But make no mistake, they’re not animals, Slaves realise what they’re doing and while they’re all for their fans having fun during their shows, they’re also not going to be dicks about it either. Guitarist Laurie Vincent, realising that a circle pit was forming down the front at Latitude 30 in response to their aggressive music, acted quickly and helpfully to direct photographers out of the fray and to the side of the stage so their expensive cameras wouldn’t get destroyed in the melee. ‘Spit It Out’, from last year’s ‘Take Control’ out now on Virgin EMI, was a revelation live, and the crowd were completely up for their punishing show. Mission accomplished. It seems strange to think they’re still playing small clubs here in America but on the other hand, it seems fair. Even though they’re signed to a major in the UK and they’re huge in Europe, they’re having to win over new fans in a new territory, just like everyone else who tries to make a go of it over here.

 

SXSW 2016: Huw Stephens and PRS for Music’s showcase at Latitude 30 (Tuesday night, part 1) – 15th March 2016

 
By on Tuesday, 29th March 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Invariably, I always end up at Latitude 30, the home of the British Music Embassy, every Tuesday night when I go to Austin for SXSW. SXSW 2016 was no exception, and as has been true the last 4 years I’ve attended, there was a stellar line-up organised by BBC Radio 1’s own Huw Stephens. The showcase was also being sponsored by PRS for Music, the society of songwriters, composers and music publishers and the people who make sure these creatives get paid when their music licenced through PRS is used and their music is protected.

The evening began with a bang, thanks to Kent’s own Get Inuit. Not to be confused with Eskimos or any sort of native tribe from a colder clime, the group hailing from the town of Sittingbourne provided a nice kick in the arse via their brash, self-described ‘dirty-pop’. Bespectacled frontman Jamie Glass has an unusual voice for a hard rocking band – it’s a little whiny, but that’s what makes it charming! If you’re questioning this, read my review of their single ‘Dress of Bubblewrap’, which explains the pop part of their music.

Get Inuit Huw Stephens PRS for Music Tuesday

The result: after hearing a few quiet bars from him on a song like ‘I Am the Hot Air’, you’re in for a total surprise if you’re expecting instrumental backing of the twee variety, as the song gets right in your face and . With its guitars that go from squealing to heavy, ‘Pro Procrastinator’ is another clear example that these lads know how to rock. A debut album is currently in the works thanks to a grant from the PRS for Music Foundation, and I can’t wait to hear it.

From the South East of England, the programming then headed north…west and to Belfast and a different kind of in-your-face performance by Girls Names, who I met in 2013. I should probably point out at this juncture that it was around 32 C during the day on Tuesday, so Girls Name should probably be commended off the bat for sticking to their aesthetic (in their case, leather jackets and jeans) and not compromising because of the temperature.

Girls Names Huw Stephens PRS for Music Tuesday

The post-punk group specialise in creating a massive wall of sound, generated by crashing guitars and a heavy rhythm section, and it’s usually so loud and enveloping, wherever in the world you happen to be, you’re left somewhat in awe (and with some disappointment) that the building you’re stood in hasn’t actually taken off the ground yet. Their latest album ‘Arms Around a Vision’ was released on Tough Love in October and in case you haven’t picked it up yet, do, and listen to it in the dark in your bedroom, letting the instrumentation swirl around in your head along with Cathal Cully’s shadowy, existential lyrics.

The third slot of Tuesday night at Latitude 30 last year was occupied by critically lauded political artist Kate Tempest. And for the second year running, another young hopeful not afraid to speak his mind was included on Stephens’ bill. Hertfordshire teen Declan McKenna, only at the tender age of 17, is already signed to Columbia Records and that should tell you something. Making waves with his politically potent single ‘Brazil’ that criticised FIFA, offering a critical view of the international football organisation in the midst of scandal, he’s already proven he’s got talent that’s head and shoulders above and a social conscience well beyond the reach of conventional young pop stars these days. (Watch the video as part of my pre-SXSW Bands to Watch that posted in February here.) I don’t know what I was expecting, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised when the young McKenna took to the stage looking like he just got out of gym class, in a t-shirt and a pair of Lonsdale shorts.

Declan McKenna Huw Stephens PRS for Music Tuesday

With a table full of equipment and pedals aplenty, he made quick work of recording vocals and guitar lines live, in a way I’ve only seen Badly Drawn Boy do in concert (though Carrie’s explained to me that Ed Sheeran does this as well). Playing in front of a massive crowd in America might have fazed the most seasoned of UK singer/songwriters, yet McKenna was the epitome of poise, as he played through the organ-led single ‘Paracetamol’ and ended with the audience favourite ‘Brazil’. He might not have too many recordings to his name – yet – but given the amount of shouting and screaming there was for ‘Brazil’, I think we can expect him to do very well over here.

London’s Oscar (surname Scheller), who I’d had the pleasure of chatting with just hours before outside a radio promo spot he did at Buffalo Billiards, was up next. I was slightly disappointed that he changed out of his colourful Disney shirt he was wearing earlier. But he represented dear old blighty well in a Union Jack jumper, making no mistake either the country of his own origin or the focus of the night’s showcase.

Oscar Huw Stephens PRS for Music Tuesday

The brightness of his music shone through, though, so it was all okay. While ‘Sometimes’ is the height of fun, infectious guitar pop with a buzzy synth, ‘Breaking My Phone’ is more scuzzy, allowing for the grinding of louder guitars and a feeling of letting go and going with the flow of a fun night out at a show with your friends. This show curated by Huw Stephens was a great official start to my week of showcases at SXSW, but I was soon off to see another four bands up Red River Street.

For more of my photos of this showcase, visit my Flickr.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Output Belfast, and PIAS in association with AIM at the British Music Embassy – 17th March 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd March 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

The British Music Embassy will return to Latitude 30 at 512 San Jacinto Boulevard, right by the heart of the action off 6th Street during SXSW 2016. Get ready, because the lineups are looking pretty brilliant! On Monday, I previewed the talent on show from Tuesday evening through Thursday evening. Today’s post will detail who is and what’s on Thursday at the venue. Carrie will follow with a preview post of her own of the offerings all day Friday and Saturday to close out the festival.

Thursday at SXSW this year, in case you haven’t looked at your calendar yet, is St. Patrick’s Day, the 17th of March. So it makes total sense that some of the best and brightest talent from Northern Ireland will be lighting up Latitude 30 this afternoon at the Output Belfast showcase, brought to you by Generator NI. Armagh’s Silences will bring their timeless pop sound to start the afternoon on a great note. Jealous of the Birds, aka Naomi Hamilton from Portadown, has already gotten attention from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens for her EP ‘Capricorn’ and will also be appearing Thursday afternoon.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQwYmpmGp4E[/youtube]

Smack dab in the middle of the British Music Embassy Thursday afternoon bill is David C Clements, who has just released his debut album ‘The Longest Day in History’. You can read Carrie’s introduction to Clements here. Following him will be singer/songwriter and ginger beardy man Ciaran Lavery, who has received funding from PRS for Music Foundation to write and record his second album. The afternoon will conclude with a kick in the arse, scuzzy post-punk from Belfast’s Girls Names, who we’ve been following for a while since their appearance at SXSW 2012.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa1TshNz8YA[/youtube]

Shortly after Thursday afternoon’s programming ends, the British Music Embassy will be back open for Thursday evening’s full showcase from PIAS in association with AIM. Things begin on a raucous note with Manchester girl group PINS (read our past coverage on them here), the Bella Union-signed act who made the rounds of festivals big and small in 2015. Back to London but nowhere near anything expected from the capital is singer/songwriter Cosmo Sheldrake, who likes filming live performances in the weirdest places, like a Hungarian public bath and a launderette. Also unexpected is the inclusion of a Swedish band based in London like FEWS. Stereogum describes their sound on their track ‘The Zoo’ as ‘malevolent post-punk’, and we agree.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsHNH4cVdyE[/youtube]

The second half of Thursday’s lineup goes in a different direction, and you can ‘Indulge’ in soulful pop singer Jones. More non-Brit interlopers appear later in the evening: SPOOKYLAND from Sydney will bring their introspective shoegaze late night to the venue. And be sure to hang around until the end, so you won’t miss Liverpool’s young lo-fi rockers Hooton Tennis Club (read our past coverage on them here). The band released their debut album ‘Highest Point in Cliff Town’ last summer on Heavenly Recordings and will be looking to gain an American fanbase.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmbWVT-Ax1g[/youtube]

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Huw Stephens with PRS for Music and British Music @ SXSW at the British Music Embassy – 15th-16th March 2016

 
By on Monday, 29th February 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

The British Music Embassy will return to Latitude 30 at 512 San Jacinto Boulevard, right by the heart of the action off 6th Street during SXSW 2016. Get ready, because the lineups are looking pretty brilliant! In this post, I’ll be previewing the talent on show from Tuesday evening through Wednesday evening. We’ll be running additional previews of the BME’s programming later this week, including another one by me on the artists of Thursday’s bill and Carrie’s own to tip the offerings all day Friday and Saturday to close out the festival.

As he has done for many years running, BBC Radio 1 specialist presenter Huw Stephens will be hosting the opening night of festivities at Latitude 30. This year, this showcase is being put on with the auspices of the UK music copyright, licensing and royalties body PRS for Music. Huw has put together an eclectic bill with no two acts in the same exact genre. Get down to the venue early to experience Kent’s self-described ‘dirty pop’ quartet Get Inuit (our past coverage of them here), who are currently working on their debut album, with help on its financing thanks to the kind backing of PRS themselves. Lo-fi post-punk will be provided by Belfast’s Girls Names (our past coverage of them here). They released their fourth album ‘Arms Around a Vision’ on Tough Love Records last autumn. The scuzz in your ears from the first two bands will be washed out by the social commentary of Hertfordshire teenager Declan McKenna, who I profiled last month in this SXSW 2016-flavoured Bands to Watch feature.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xq4-IpRAr0c[/youtube]

Pop continues on in an equally unique but slightly different way with the quirky yet lovable Oscar. He will be releasing his debut album ‘Cut and Paste’ on Wichita Recordings in May. For the next act on the bill, a head up to the North West is in order for Liverpool’s Clean Cut Kid and their bouncy, indie pop melodies and amazing harmonies. Rebecca profiled them with recent tourmates and fellow SXSW 2016 showcasing band Fickle Friends back here in January. The night will be closed out with the pomp and oomph of hip hop of South London’s Loyle Carner, using his rhymes to express his perspective on life.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GazJC5cAcIw[/youtube]

The music continues Wednesday afternoon at the British Music Embassy. Chad Valley is Oxford’s own chill wave artist Hugo Manuel when he’s not busy with his other band Jonquil or remixing the work of his mates Foals, among others. He’ll start the day’s activities with synthy goodness. He’s followed by Welsh band The People The Poet, one of BBC Radio 2’s Dermot O’Leary’s favourite discoveries from last year’s festival (read our past coverage on the band here). The bill then turns its focus to Cheshire-bred singer/songwriter legend Jane Weaver. The lineup stays in the North West for former Liverpool choir boy turned pop artist Banners, who released his self-titled EP last month on Island Records (read our past coverage on him here, including Rebecca’s Bands to Watch from January). The afternoon’s programming ends with East Hampshire trio and Transgressive Records signees Blaenavon. Their in-your-face sound was recently reigned in for this recent Burberry Acoustic video for ‘Dragon’ live in Manchester.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-0APoy4rdw[/youtube]

Latitude 30 will reopen for Wednesday evening at the British Music Embassy for the previously previewed BBC Introducing and PRS for Music Foundation night. It will begin with a touching tribute to the late Viola Beach and their manager Craig Tarry. The band from Warrington were due to open the BBC Introducing night before they who lost their lives tragically in a car accident in Sweden last month. We encourage all to attend and pay their respects to our fallen friends.

 
 
 

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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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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