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Video of the Moment #2806: Ryan Vail

 
By on Monday, 19th March 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

In early February when Carrie and I were deep in the throes of our SXSW 2018 previews, SXSW 2017 alumni Ryan Vail announced some exciting news. The Derry electronic composer and producer revealed that his new album ‘Distorted Shadows’ will be out in April. He says on his Facebook “Expect a synth heavy album”, which is making me rub my hands together as gleefully as Mr. Burns.

‘As It Tears’ is an early taster from the album to have its own promo video. Darkness and light, both literally visually and in the musical moods in the song, are both explored here, though I think it’s safe to say the ominous darkness of Vail’s songwriting wins out here. (Contrast it to his previous single ‘Shadows’, featured here in a previous Video of the Moment.) The video itself ends on an enigmatic note, opening the door to future videos to possibly continue the saga. Watch the video for ‘As It Tears’ below. Stay tuned for ‘Distorted Shadows’, which you can preorder now from Vail’s own shop ahead of its expected release next month. To catch up on all of our past coverage on Ryan Vail, go here.

 

Video of the Moment #2444: Ryan Vail

 
By on Thursday, 28th September 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Northern Irish electronic producer and artist Ryan Vail is releasing a new single tomorrow on Quiet Arch. To celebrate the release, he’s unveiled a promo video to accompany ‘Shadows’. In the song, Vail quietly asks, “Do you ever feel how I feel? / Will you ever be the one for me?”, before the tempo ramps up. This is a gentle, uncluttered take on electronica, beautiful in its minimalist beats. In the video, Vail utilises a mysterious diamond hanging in the sky that a woman becomes fixated on, and to the point that she seems possessed. Not unlike infatuation, eh? Watch the promo for ‘Shadows’ below. To read what we’ve written on Ryan Vail in the past, including our coverage of him at SXSW 2017, go here.

 

SXSW 2017: Wednesday night’s marathon, with stops at Lambert’s, Clive Bar, St. David’s Bethell Hall and Elysium – 15th March 2017

 
By on Monday, 10th April 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Wednesday night at SXSW 2017 was always going to be a test of my speed and endurance, with a veritable smorgasbord of choices on the schedule at venues spread widely across downtown Austin. When I nailed down my own agenda for the evening, I was a tiny bit cranky at the prospect of so much walking, but in the end, the shows I saw were entirely worth the athletic effort. (To give you an idea of how much walking was involved, my smartwatch recorded over 20,000 total steps and 10.5 miles’ distance on Wednesday!)

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After a brief dinner break, I ventured west of Congress Avenue to Lambert’s, where the SESAC showcase was being held. I would have happily stayed for the entire evening, as the SESAC docket included several favourites of mine, including Ciaran Lavery and Silences. However, the crazy Wednesday night schedule didn’t allow me to stop that long, and I only stayed long enough to satisfy my curiosity about singer/songwriter Allison Pierce. Formerly of sister-act The Pierces, Allison Pierce has stepped out on her own as a solo artist, and from the sound of her set at Lambert’s, she’s gone country. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise, given her Alabama upbringing, but this was definitely more of a streamlined, pure country sound than the psychedelic folk I last heard from The Pierces. Pierce followed her SXSW appearance with a run of live dates supporting The Wind and the Wave, and her debut album ‘Year of the Rabbit’ is due out on the 5th of May.

Magic Giant internal 1

My next stop was on the other side of downtown Austin, at Rainey Street’s Clive Bar, which was hosting the Showtime ‘I’m Dying Up Here’ launch party. Mary had warned me that the Showtime event would be a madhouse, and when I arrived at the Clive Bar after walking all the way across downtown from Lambert’s, I was disheartened to find a long queue outside. Surprisingly enough, the line moved quickly, and I was able to secure a spot close to the stage for Los Angeles indie rockers Magic Giant, with whom I’d had this lively interview earlier in the day.

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As advertised in the interview, Magic Giant’s live show exuded a brilliant energy and included a cacophony of creatively-devised sounds. Despite my prime spot at the front of the stage, I found it difficult to take photos, as none of the three band members (lead vocalist Austin Bisnow, multi-instrumentalist Zambricki Li, guitarist Brian “Zang” Zaghi) were in one position for very long. The momentum of the music and the quick rotation of instruments kept them in constant motion, even finding them down in the middle of the crowd at one point for what might be called a low-level acoustic mosh.

Magic Giant internal 3

Magic Giant’s incredibly organic indie folk debut album ‘In the Wind’ is due out in May, and the band is planning to be on tour for the rest of this year. Keep an eye on the Tour section of their official Web site for upcoming dates, and be sure not to miss them if they pass through your area.

My mood improved considerably by Magic Giant’s vibrant set, I left the Clive Bar and embarked on the long uphill walk to St. David’s Episcopal Church. Though I’d seen several shows at the church over the past three years at SXSW, I hadn’t yet been inside Bethell Hall, and I was initially taken aback by the very minimal set up of the stark room.

Ryan Vail internal

The stage area, such as it was, was positioned in the front of the room, with a grand piano and an electronic keyboard, along with a soundboard and a projector screen for visual effects. Despite some technical difficulty in the initial setup, this was perhaps a more natural situation for Ryan Vail, whom I’d seen earlier in the week at the Output Belfast Boat Party. Vail took advantage of the lovely grand piano in Bethell Hall to play tracks from his piano-oriented debut LP ‘For Every Silence’, which is described on Soundcloud as “the story of a piano that was made in England in 1927, shipped to Derry in Northern Ireland, cherished by Ryan’s wife’s family and restored for use on a stunning debut album, where the warm, well-loved character of the instrument takes centre stage.” I was pleased to see a new facet of Vail’s talent, namely his genuine skill as a composer, shine through in a different context than what I’d previously heard.

My last stop of the evening was at Austin dance club Elysium for the end of the KCRW showcase. Earlier bands on KCRW’s lineup had included Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Aquilo (see Mary’s past coverage of her Wednesday night covering the two of them here), and Mondo Cozmo, who I’d already seen earlier in the afternoon. By the time I arrived at Elysium, there was an impressive queue for hotly-tipped Aussie band Middle Kids, and I wasn’t sure I’d get in to see them, but once again good fortune prevailed.

Middle Kids internal

It’s always a pleasant surprise when a heavily-hyped band actually lives up to its billing, and such was the case with Middle Kids. Their indie rock sound leans just enough toward the pop side to be catchy, but aside from being eminently listenable, it’s also charmingly quirky. Lead singer Hannah Joy doesn’t go out of her way to do anything weird just for the sake of being noticed, which is refreshing in a time when female frontwomen are definitely feeling the pressure to stand out in the growing crowd. (I did, however, take notice of Joy’s Hendrix-style left-handed guitar technique.)

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Los Angeles alt-rockers Cherry Glazerr immediately positioned themselves on the opposite end of that continuum when their lead singer Clementine Creevy did a spidery commando crawl onto the stage and announced her presence by bellowing “Hey, assholes!” into the microphone. This was an immediate turn-off for me, but many of the punters in the crowd responded positively, both to her deliberately obnoxious demeanor and to Cherry Glazerr’s raucous, rebellious grunge. Judging by the reaction to the creepy Kewpie-style doll attached to Sasami Ashworth’s keyboard, I’d say their track ‘Nurse Ratched’ is well on its way to being a sleeper summer hit.

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After overcoming the seemingly standard technical issues faced by electronic artists at SXSW, London-based SOHN closed out the night at Elysium with a delirious 1 AM set that swayed between sensual and sweaty in a room drenched in dim red lighting. I always feel bad for artists who get stuck in the final time slot after a big-name act, when the room invariably empties, and SOHN was no exception. But in a proper club atmosphere, this would clearly have been a better-received set, and I’ll wager that fans of electro artists like Jack Garratt (who faced a similar situation at SXSW 2015) will catch onto SOHN in the very near future.

 

SXSW 2017: Tuesday morning and afternoon spent with Irish artists and an exceptional English band – 14th March 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 5th April 2017 at 5:00 pm
 

The Tuesday morning of SXSW 2017 found me out the door early, headed across the Colorado River to the Hyatt Regency Boat Dock, which the launching point for the Output Belfast Boat Party. The Boat Party, a collaborative event among several agencies including Generator NI and the Belfast City Council, is quickly becoming a Convergence tradition at SXSW, popular among attendees from across the Interactive, Film, and Music categories.

I was lucky to get onboard, as the boat quickly reached capacity. I had only just made my way to the upper deck when I was approached by one of the morning’s performers, electronic musician Ryan Vail. I recognised him from his press photos and felt a momentary panic, worried that I would be expected to say something intelligent about electronic music and drawing a complete blank. Fortunately, Vail was knowledgeable enough for both of us, and he kept the conversation afloat until the official festivities began.

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The morning’s distinguished emcees included our friends Mark Gordon of Generator NI and Belfast city Alderman Guy Spence (pictured above), as well as Help Musicians UK CEO Richard Robinson. All three were cordial but brief in their remarks, wanting, like the rest of us, to get straight to the music performances. Vail took the stage, such as it was, first. Balancing his sensitive electronic equipment on the gently rocking riverboat was something of a challenge, but Vail managed it beautifully, setting a soft and mellow sonic atmosphere for the rest of the show.

Ryan Vail internal

Alt-rocker Jealous of the Birds (pictured in header above) returned to Austin this year after a successful debut at SXSW 2016, this time with her full band accompanying her. For this brief semi-acoustic riverboat set, she was joined only by keyboard player, Hannah McConnell who also provided lovely backing vocals. I found myself whistling along to the now familiar ‘Goji Berry Sunset’ and hanging intently on the literary-leaning lyrics of ‘Tonight I Feel Like Kafka’. You can check out another SXSW 2017 performance of both tracks, courtesy of NPR, right here.

Ciaran Lavery internal

Final performer Ciaran Lavery opened with an a capella take on ‘Let Bad In’ that had me in tears before he had even completed the full song, which made it a bit difficult to take photos. He acknowledged that his songs aren’t exactly upbeat “dance numbers”, but his richly-textured vocals and stark acoustic arrangements felt pleasantly warm and inviting in the early afternoon Texas sunshine.

After the boat party was complete, I took a few minutes to sit down with the three featured artists for this impromptu interview, then I headed quickly back downtown for another interview with a band from the Republic of Ireland, Dublin’s Picture This. I was few minutes late to reach them, but fortunately they were gracious enough to wait, and band members Jimmy Rainsford and Ryan Hennessy gave this fascinating introductory soundbite. They exuded confidence and swagger, which immediately struck me as unusual, but in a positive way, very different from the self-deprecating humility of so many artists I meet. I wouldn’t have the chance to hear Picture This play live until the Thursday afternoon of SXSW, but needless to say, my curiosity was piqued.

From there, it was back to the Radisson for me, where I had arranged an interview with Reading quartet Sundara Karma. They were fresh on the SXSW scene, having only arrived in Austin hours before, but they were chomping at the bit to immerse themselves in the experience. In contrast to Picture This, Sundara Karma seemed genuinely unaffected by the hype surrounding their SXSW appearance. Click here to listen back to my poolside chat with band members Oscar Pollock and Haydn Evans.

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Interviews complete for the afternoon, my next stop was at the Convention Center Next Stage, where I met Mary to catch Irish singer/songwriter A.S. Fanning. Later in the week, (in this interview) Fanning would describe the Convention Center vibe as more like a lecture hall than a proper gig, and I have to agree with his sentiment. The large stage and open seating area was almost too spacious for Fanning’s dark, intimate songwriting, but his captivating lyrics and resonant baritone vocals very quickly minimised the emotional distance between himself and his audience.

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Keep following TGTF’s continuing coverage of SXSW 2017 in the coming days for more on all of the excellent artists featured here: Ryan Vail on the grand piano at St. David’s Bethell Hall, A.S. Fanning and Picture This at Thursday’s Full Irish Breakfast, Ciaran Lavery at the Output Belfast day show, Sundara Karma at Stubb’s BBQ, and Jealous of the Birds on Saturday’s Music for Listeners showcase at El Sapo.

 

SXSW 2017: Get Buzzzed at the Brew Exchange and pop-ins at Output Belfast, the Glasgow Buckaroo and Sunday Best showcases (Friday, part 1) – 17th March 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 4th April 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Getting away from the general hive of activity in Austin, at least once, is a good thing. Our friends at Music for Listeners put on several days of free afternoon shows out at El Sapo. West of Congress Avenue, there’s Waterloo Records and Whole Foods and their free shows. There’s also a whole host of bars that turn into venues while a whole bunch of people who are in town for SXSW remain oblivious to them. I’d never been to The Brew Exchange, but I took the opportunity to check it and the Get Buzzzed showcase sponsored by a few different music companies early Friday afternoon. While I was out there, Carrie held down the fort at the BMI brunch at The Four Seasons.

Mt. Wolf, Get Buzzzed showcase, The Brew Exchange, Friday 17 March 2017

Remember what I said about maximising your number of acts seen by visiting venues that have two stages? The Brew Exchange has two and with staggered set times, you could enjoy the music while also enjoying one of the many beers on tap, because what else would a place with a name like The Brew Exchange offer up in libations? Atmospheric electronic pop group Mt. Wolf played first on the stage actually inside the venue. (I also saw them Tuesday night at ScratcHouse at the Killing Moon / ReverbNation showcase there, as well as Thursday at the British Music Embassy.) Electro soul pop duo Aquilo followed them, playing with their backs to the open windows at the front of the place. Following two great but all too brief performances, Tom Higman and Ben Fletcher of Aquilo and I took a walk around the corner to do this interview.

Aquilo, Get Buzzzed showcase, The Brew Exchange, Friday 17 March 2017

Something I revel in when I’m at a music festival is talking to fellow music fans. On my walk back to the British Music Embassy, I met an Austinite who was a fellow hat wearer on this windy day, and we struck up a conversation. We had a mutual love for dance and electronic music, so I knew I had someone to show him back at Latitude 30. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but my new acquaintance was best buds with the bouncer there, ha!

Ryan Vail, Output Belfast showcase British Music Embassy, Latitue 30, Friday 17 March 2017, 2

I had been rushing back to catch Derry electronic musician and producer Ryan Vail, who had first performed in Austin that week on the Generator NI and Belfast City Council-sponsored riverboat cruise that Carrie covered for us. I was eager to check out his live show. Our Adam had spoken highly not only of Vail’s music, having seeing him at an Output Belfast showcase in February, but also of the visuals by Plume Studios that were projected behind him as he performed. The combination of music and projection reminded me of Rival Consoles’ (Ryan L. West) performance on the same stage 2 years prior and also at The Great Escape 2015, both which I highly enjoyed. I was pleased to learn from Vail himself after his set that he not only knew of Rival Consoles but that they were fans of each other’s music. Hey Ryans, you gotta tour together. DO IT!

Ryan Vail, Output Belfast showcase British Music Embassy, Latitue 30, Friday 17 March 2017, 2

Vail is a unique electronic artist, in that he is equally comfortable with emotional, starker pieces, where the focus is on the piano, as he is with the comparatively more forward-thinking, ambient soundscapes within which he calls on his various effects and sequencers to help him build the experience. He is also not too shy to sing, which not all electronic musicians are eager to do, but I don’t think many of them fully understand this adds an important human touch that non-electro heads appreciate. I am always on the hunt for an engaging beat and an electronic tune that draws me in, and Ryan Vail’s music succeeds on both counts. Two thumbs way up.

I’m going to fast forward past my second time seeing / dragging Carrie to witness Welsh group The Sandinistas’s set at Valhalla and sitting in on Simon Raymonde’s talk with Eric Pulido of Midlake and BNQT fame and actor and music lover Jason Lee at the convention. It’s now night, and I’m queuing outside the Mohawk, a place I have to admit I’ve avoided since the tragic car crash in front of it during SXSW 2014. I was joined in the queue with a Japanese woman from a Kyoto blog who was very excited to see The Lemon Twigs. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the CD of Kyoto (Kyotan?) bands she gave me, but I hope to soon.

The Mohawk indoor stage was to be invaded by Scots via a showcase dubbed The Glasgow Buckaroo. It has been a few years since Scotland has had an entire showcase to themselves, so their return to Austin with the most bands from their region in recent memory was entirely welcome. Glaswegians Catholic Action, starring former Casual Sex drummer turned effective frontman Chris McCrory, would begin the festivities with their brand of fun, clap-happy pop/rock.

Catholic Action, The Glasgow Buckaroo, Mohawk indoor, Friday 17 March 2017

Is it wrong to compare them to the Beatles? The comparison seems inevitable tonight, as McCrory is sporting a floppy black hat that seems a purposeful nod to John Lennon. Will Catholic Action be the Next British Guitar Band, via Mud? The jury is still out on this but for sure, they had many a tail feather shaking at both the Mohawk and the British Music Embassy later that evening, as I can fully attest to.

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

Appropriately enough, the outdoor stage at Mohawk was revving up with another Scottish act. Young Sam Gellaitry began 4AD’s night there with his take on electronic dance, stood in front of his Macbook and equipment high above all of us. In this day and age, it’s unusual to describe the music from an electronic artist whose focus is on dance as “cinematic”, but I’d have to agree with Billboard here.

Sam Gellaitry, 4AD showcase, Mohawk outdoor, Friday 17 March 2017

Despite his young age, it’s obvious from listening to his tunes that the Stirling native has a lot of imagination and ideas, but he’s also honed his craft to be able to strike the balance between weird and wonderful and providing the masses something they’re going to embrace and dance to. I thought he was incredible. I was practically weeping that I had to leave his set early. Mark my words, one day I will interview him.

Speaking of weird, I was out of the Mohawk and down the street quickly to catch a bit of recent Sunday Best signing Laucan. Laurence Galpin performed as the first artist of the Rob Da Bank label’s showcase at Valhalla, where Carrie and I had been that afternoon. The alt-folk artist was joined by a cellist, as well as a backing track coming through the speakers of the venue that can only be described as vaguely terrifying. You don’t expect to hear other voices other than the performer on stage, so I was sufficiently weirded out by both that and the disorienting darkness of Valhalla. Galpin quipped that his intention for the set was for it to be truly an “immersive experience”, so he should consider his appearance there a success, even if it was a bit muted.

Laucan, Sunday Best Records showcase, Valhalla, Friday 17 March 2017

 

(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2331: Ryan Vail

 
By on Friday, 31st March 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Derry electronic musician, composer and producer Ryan Vail was one of a handful of wonderful electronic acts I caught at SXSW 2017 who I couldn’t get enough of. Something I love about electronic composers is that they never seem to stop working. In honour of World Piano Day on Wednesday, the Northern Irish artist revealed two songs, one brand new and the other a rework of a previously released song, ‘East Berlin’.

The original of the two, instrumental ‘We Drift We Wake’, has an accompanying black and white promo video. The series of visuals chosen, showing both the natural and manmade world, provide the perfect foil to Vail’s composition, which darts in and out of, then above the shadows. Moments of broodiness morph into more uplifting ones before the song concludes with a softer, delicious delicacy. Watch the video below. For read more on Ryan Vail, go here; we’ll be adding to our archive on the artist as we continue our review coverage of SXSW in the coming days.

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

 
 
 

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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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