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SXSW 2019: Focus Wales and Seazoo, Matt Maltese, Jealous of the Birds, and Grace Carter and Sam Fender at BBC Introducing – 13th March 2019 (Wednesday, part 3)

 
By on Tuesday, 26th March 2019 at 3:00 pm
 

No SXSW would be complete without visits to your favourite country showcases and houses and seeing friends. For a second year running, Focus Wales put on a networking mixer on Wednesday night, this time at one of my favourite venues in Austin, Swan Dive, its stage bordered by white fencing like a perfect slice of Americana. There must be a good joke that all good mixers bring in the Irish and the Scots, but it’s also very true. I also wanted to hang around for as long as I could to see Wrexham, North Wales band Seazoo play as the showcase’s opener. In my Bands to Watch on them at the end of last month, I wrote about discovering their self-described “psych indie pop”. But there’s much more to this band than any boxes they or anyone else could put them in.


While many bands exist and continue on today on a foundation of long-held friendships, you get the sense from watching the band members of Seazoo that long after their instruments are packed away, they will actually go and get drinks at the pub together. (Indeed, I appear to have been invited to visit them in Wrexham the next time I’m relatively close, in Liverpool for Sound City.) The gangly, bespectacled Ben Trow, who fronts the band, is a more obviously humourous frontman than Jarvis Cocker. I was first confused by what he meant by introducing “the best baby head player”. That is, until I got a closer look at what Llinos Griffiths was playing: a head of a doll with metal switches on its surface that evidently are part of Seazoo’s musical success. The super poppy ‘Shoreline’ started the Focus Wales night with flair, as it was impossible not to get drawn in by the infectious earworm. Check out their debut album ‘Trunks’, you won’t be disappointed.

From the slap-happy sunny tunes of Seazoo, I departed for the uphill battle (literally) to Central Presbyterian Church and decidedly more subdued music. Matt Maltese was a last-minute addition to the SXSW 2019 bill; his announcing of his appearances leading to my many squeals. He is the 21st century heir apparent to the late Leonard Cohen and the ever declining in favour Morrissey. Accompanying his voice with only a piano or guitar, consummate crooner Maltese wowed an appreciative seated audience at the church with tunes from his debut album from last year, ‘Bad Contestant’ (review here), out now on Atlantic Records. Like Morrissey and Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy, he has a rapier-like wit. He quipped that two of the songs in his set were based on unfortunate love triangles he found himself a party in and that he would recommend others to participate in love triangles of their own. (Guffaw.) Despite forgetting his guitar tuner, he was able to crowdsource a mobile phone with the infinitely well-named GuitarTuna app while also continuing his droll stage banter.


I hope he doesn’t mind me comparing his delivery style to Barry Manilow: only so many piano-playing singers have the gift of warmth in their voices, a lustrous quality that makes the pain of heartbreak that much easier to swallow. The languid nature of ‘Less and Less’ is the perfect foil for the chronicling of falling out of love with someone, while the more jaunty, happy chord-filled ‘Guilty’ is the full-scale admittance of his repeated returning to a selfish lover because he just can’t extricate himself from her. While his was not one of the most energetic sets I saw at SXSW this year, it was a great reminder that there is something for everyone at this festival, including the brooding introvert within me that just wants to revisit the strong feelings of love and heartbreak through osmosis.

The next act seemed to have made it their mission to bring brightness back into the church. Before coming out to Austin, I saw that Naomi Hamilton, aka Jealous of the Birds, had chosen to wear a fun purple tartan suit for their set on the Output Belfast boat party on Tuesday. She graced the church in the same outfit, while her bandmates were dressed less ostentatiously but still on theme in black watch tartan trousers. Gotta love a coordinated band! ‘Tonight I Feel Like Kafka’, which I previously saw Hamilton perform solo supporting The Divine Comedy in Birmingham in November 2017, had many more wonderful layers presented by her and her band.


Cracking jokes about having not yet burst into flames while in a house of worship is just one indicator that this is not the same Hamilton TGTF has covered in previous years. Her sound has evolved from ‘breaking’ into the indie world with ‘Goji Berry Sunset’ on BBC 6 Music 3 years ago that I saw performed live at Dublin Tengu at Hard Working Class Heroes in 2016. On most recent EP ‘Wisdom Teeth’, the dissonant guitar licks of ‘Blue Eyes’ throw you off for a moment before you surrender to its wild nature. Even better, Hamilton has described as a celebration of “femininity and strong women feeling empowered”. If you haven’t seen the music video for it, you simply must.

Following my time at Central Presbyterian, just like in the afternoon, I faced another daunting queue at the British Music Embassy for the BBC Introducing / PRS Foundation showcase. Onstage at the time was Grace Carter, a pop singer/songwriter from Brighton whose had a recent meteoric rise thanks to the attention of artists like Dua Lipa and Lana Del Rey. One of her most arresting singles, ‘Why Her Not Me’, documents the heart-wrenching realisation Carter came to when she learned from her single mother than her biological father wasn’t in her life because he chose to stay with the other family he had. While this isn’t the kind of music I’d normally choose to listen to, I can respect her ability to open up her personal life in her music.

Sam Fender returned to Austin and oddly enough, the same exact showcase at the British Music Embassy as SXSW 2018 and at the same time slot. The Geordie had a spectacular year in the meantime, his lyrics espousing social consciousness and the plight of young people today hitting a nerve and making him a critical darling and a must-see at festivals, including the inaugural edition of This is Tomorrow. There was a bittersweet poignancy as he and his band performed ‘Dead Boys’ on the brightly lit Latitude 30 stage, as if the song being performed was to honour those young men we’ve lost through suicide but also shame the society who failed them. 2019 single ‘Hypersonic Missiles’, in contrast, shows his knack for writing a melodious rock song, as well as his impressive vocal range. Having woken up at 4 AM, I called it an early night (and before midnight, shocker!) to be ready for what Thursday would bring.


 

Video of the Moment #2911: Sam Fender

 
By on Thursday, 6th December 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

I’m a big fan of anyone who’s willing to broach difficult topics and without fear. Naturally, Newcastle’s Sam Fender caught our ears for this very reason. Just last week, he was announced to be a ‘repeat offender’ (ha), meaning he’ll return to SXSW in March 2019 to wow crowds in Austin. The Geordie’s latest earworm to get a video (okay, you got me, it’s a lyric video) is for ‘Poundshop Kardashians’. Less than 3 minutes long, it’s a short but snappy wonder providing biting commentary to the “beautiful people devoid of emotion’ that our society seems fixated on through the lens of reality telly. The track appears on Fender’s just released ‘Dead Boys’ EP that I sadly missed reviewing b/c my laptop gave up the ghost last month. (Never fear, I’ll figure out something soon.) This animated lyric video is a great treatment for these cartoon people that have far too much influence and these cartoon times that we live in. Watch the video for the track below. Fender’s ‘Dead Boys’ EP is out now on Polydor Records. All of our past coverage on Sam can be read through here; it includes my review of him performing live at the inaugural This is Tomorrow festival in Newcastle back in May

 

Live Review: This is Tomorrow Festival 2018

 
By on Wednesday, 30th May 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Header photo by Dean Hindmarch via This is Tomorrow festival Facebook page

Starting in 2002 and for over a decade, Evolution Festival was a Tyneside event drawing music lovers to Newcastle and Gateshead during the lazy days of a May bank holiday. A few years passed with no appearance of Evolution’s return in sight. It’s unclear to me what the impetus was to create the inaugural This is Tomorrow Festival held last weekend Quayside in Newcastle. But I’d like to believe that following the last edition of Evolution in 2013 and the ensuing festival-less years that followed, festival organisers were simply chomping at the bit to provide another event to bring the music lovers of the North East together again. For 2018, This is Tomorrow was presented as a 2-day event, and I only attended on Friday the 25th. The lineup for Saturday the 26th included headliners Thirty Seconds to Mars, who were supported by locals and TGTF friends Boy Jumps Ship, Don Broco and Marmozets.

This was only my second time in Tyneside, so I made the mistake of taking the Quayside bus too far east. However, even though my trainers got soaked in the pouring rain in the afternoon, I’d argue that this music editor actually benefitted from this mistake, as I heard Everything Everything soundcheck ‘Can’t Do’ as I walked towards the box office. I’m not sure if Sam Fender was actually given a soundcheck, as I watched him dash through the rain, a guitar in each hand, onstage. Proceedings started on time shortly after 5:30 PM, with plenty of fellow locals excited to welcome the BBC Sound of 2018 nominated act and local boy done good to the stage. He began with the self-deprecating ‘Millennial’, then ran through a taut set of politically astute songs belying his relatively young age. I feel pretty lucky that I was able to see him in a club environment in March at SXSW 2018 and then got to see him play to a huge crowd in his hometown. Fender ended his all-too short set with ‘Play God’ and was rewarded with a rousing round of cheers.


Sam Fender This is Tomorrow 2018

For those not in the know, Little Comets were one of the first acts whose studio-recorded music I ever reviewed. For most of their career, they’ve been a three-piece, until relatively recently, when they expanded the core of brothers Rob and Mickey Coles and bassist Matt Hall with Matt Saxon on keyboards and Nathan Greene on drums for 2017 album ‘Worhead’, their fourth. With a pretty big back catalogue, I think it takes a lot of nerve to fill a set list with newer, probably less known tunes instead of relying on old, proven favourites. But if you know anything about Little Comets, they’ve never done anything predictable. Recent single ‘M62’ got an airing with gusto, as did the searing commentary of xenophobia in ‘The Punk is in the Detail’. But longtime Comets fans needn’t have worried: their dear ol’ girls ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Joanna’ were full of bounce as ever, and they closed their set with the ever joy-inducing ‘Dancing Song’. “This one’s for dancing!” That, indeed, it always is.


Little Comets This is Tomorrow 2018

Moving ever closer to the headline set Friday night at This is Tomorrow, the next band up were another TGTF favourite and another band with four studio albums under their belt, Everything Everything. The band originally having formed in Manchester may have lost two of their members to the big smoke, but this hasn’t negatively affected their unique sound one bit. Hard to believe that ‘A Fever Dream’ was released last summer, as its inventive songwriting has firmly been implanted in my mind. While at times I lament the loss of my favourite, earlier masterpieces of theirs like ‘QWERTY Finger’ and ‘Final Form’ to their live show, the inclusion of now perennial showpieces including ‘Kemosabe’ and ‘Regret’ alongside ‘A Fever Dream’ top tracks ‘Night of the Long Knives’ and ‘Desire’. While Sam Fender and Little Comets’ sets before them were enjoyable, Everything Everything’s set seemed to really rile up and excite the crowd right before the main event.


Everything Everything This is Tomorrow 2018

Catfish and the Bottlemen need no introduction, of course. The Welsh rockers, famous for their back-to-back hit-spawning LPs ‘The Balcony’ and ‘The Ride’ were, of course, the biggest draw for the inaugural This is Tomorrow event. The lion’s share of the shoving and pushing of the fans was all for them. While I’m not their target demographic and I consider their sound too rock by the numbers, I can appreciate that their feel good, anthemic sound resonates easily with the youth of today. The enthusiastic screams of delight rippling through the crowd were proof positive that Van McCann and co. came through with a job well done.

The festival wasn’t without its hiccups. Some fans complained they missed the performances they had being waiting for for weeks because the security queues took too long to negotiate. The rain led to widening ‘lakes’ on the festival site that were impossible to jump over, and frustration built as one such lake up front stage left prevented revelers from getting any closer to their heroes. Bottles of wine were being sold at an exorbitant £25, so naturally, I wondered how much a pint of lager or cider would have cost. Few down the front, many who had arrived to queue outside while it was still raining, were willing to brave the arduous expedition to leave the crowd to get an overpriced drink. The crush of bodies down the front eventually became too much for me, so a report about a young man having a panic attack in the midst of the festival was, unfortunately, not surprising to me. The youth of Newcastle have the infamous reputation of not dressing appropriately for cold weather, so it was not surprising to me to see kids in attendance in soaking wet clothes, shivering while the wind blew. My motherly instinct kicked in, and I felt terrible for them.

While no festival can prepare for every eventuality, it’s unfortunate that many will remember this festival for the problems they encountered. The rapid selling out of tickets to the Catfish and the Bottlemen-headlined first day is incredible validation that the music lovers of the North East are excited about an event like this and that future events will be well attended and successful. The This is Tomorrow festival organisers should be proud of this. Let’s hope that they heed all punters’ feedback, whether positive or negative, and use the feedback to make next year’s event even better.

 

The Great Escape 2018 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Tuesday, 8th May 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: as we always recommend in all of TGTF’s festival previews, the information we post here on The Great Escape 2018 taking place next week is current at the time of posting. We strongly encourage you to check in at the festival’s official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Three-day wristbands for the event in Brighton 17-19 May are still available at the price of £70 plus handling if purchased online; delegate passes that include both access to the daytime industry convention and all music showcases are available at the price of £275 plus handling. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available from The Great Escape official Web site. If you’d like to read my previous, more general preview of The Great Escape, it’s through here.

As mentioned in part 1 of my Live at Leeds best bets preview, and alluded to in part 2 as well, there are quite a few acts that appeared this past weekend at Live at Leeds and/or Liverpool Sound City that will also be appearing next week at the Great Escape in Brighton.

Bad Sounds (Friday 11:15 PM, Horatio’s)
Black Futures (Thursday, 9:15 PM, Green Door Store)
Boy Azooga (Thursday, 12:00 PM, Latest Music Bar; 2:00 PM, Dr. Martens stage; 9:15 PM, Patterns upstairs)
Cassia (Friday, 12:45 AM, The Hope and Ruin)
Hollow Coves (Thursday, 12:45 PM, Komedia Studio Bar and 10:15 PM, The Old Courtroom)
Knightstown (Saturday, 12:15 PM, One Church)
Lady Bird (Friday, 2:15 PM, Dr. Martens stage and 10:15 PM, The Walrus)
Rascalton (Thursday, 1:00 PM, Horatio’s [Showcasing Scotland stage]; Friday, 10:15 PM, Green Door Store)
SHEAFS (Saturday, 8:45 PM, The Hope and Ruin)
The Ninth Wave (Thursday, 3:30 PM, Horatio’s [Showcasing Scotland stage]; Friday, 9:30 PM, The Haunt; Saturday, 10:15 PM, Marine Room [Harbour Hotel])
The Orielles (Thursday, 2:30 PM, Beach House and 9:00 PM, Horatio’s)
Tors (Friday, 6:45 PM, St. Mary’s Church)
Vistas (Saturday, 2:30 PM, The Hope and Ruin)
whenyoung (Thursday, 6:30 PM, The Haunt)
Zapatilla (Thursday, 10:15 PM, The Walrus)

SXSW 2018 (or earlier) alums: Here’s a list of artists we either saw in March in Austin (or even in previous years) who we enjoyed AND/OR we previewed ahead of the festival -AND- will also be appearing at the Great Escape. They’re sorted by alphabetical order, as some of the acts who are bigger draws are appearing more than once, so organising the list by first appearance may not necessarily be useful to you.

All Our Exes Live in Texas (Thursday, 12:10 PM, Komedia [Aussie BBQ stage]; Thursday, 10:15 PM, Latest Music Bar)
Dermot Kennedy (Thursday, 9:00 PM, Wagner Hall; Friday, 4:00 PM, Beach Club; Friday, 10:00 PM, Sallis Benney Theatre)
Dream Wife (Thursday, 8:45 PM, Beach Club)
Her’s (Friday, 1:00 PM, Beach House; Friday, 10:15 PM, Horatio’s)
IDLES (Thursday 10:00 PM, Beach Club)
Jealous of the Birds (Thursday, 9:15 PM, Bau Wow; Friday, 2:00 PM, Jubilee Square)
Jerry Williams (Thursday, 7:45 PM, Hope and Ruin; Saturday, 12:30 PM, Komedia Studio Bar)
Joshua Burnside (Friday, 1:30 PM, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar [Output Belfast stage]; Saturday, 12:15 PM, Latest Music Bar)
Let’s Eat Grandma (Friday, 9:15 PM, The Old Market)
Lo Moon (Friday, 8:30 PM, Coalition)
Mansionair (Thursday, 9:15 PM, Komedia)
ONR (Friday, 8:30 PM, Paganini Ballroom at the Old Ship Hotel [BBC Introducing stage])
Pale Waves (Thursday, 7:00 PM, Wagner Hall; Thursday, 11:00 PM, Horatio’s)
Rachel K Collier (Friday, 12:20 PM, Latest Music Bar [Horizons / Gorwelion showcase)
Sam Fender (Friday, 2:30 PM, Patterns upstairs; Friday, 8:00 PM, Sallis Benney Theatre; Saturday, 1:30 PM, Komedia Studio Bar)
Stella Donnelly (Thursday, 8:15 PM, Komedia; Friday, 7:45 PM, Unitarian Church; Saturday, 1:20 PM, Dr. Martens stage)
Superorganism (Friday, 10:15 PM, The Old Market)
Ten Tonnes (Friday, 6:30 PM, Coalition; Friday, 10:45 PM, Paginini Ballroom at the Old Ship Hotel [BBC Introducing stage])
The Homesick (Friday, 2:30 PM, Komedia Studio Bar; Saturday, 10:15 PM, Green Door Store)
The Spook School (Thursday, 12:15 PM, Horatio’s [Showcasing Scotland stage]; Saturday, 8:30 PM Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar)
TOUTS (Thursday, 8:15 PM, Patterns upstairs; Friday, 3:30 PM, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar)

::gasps:: Okay, so now that we’ve gotten all those shining stars with loads of potential out of the way, I’m going to focus on five additional acts in this post. I’ve chosen those from the pool of acts appearing at The Great Escape but who did not appear at Live at Leeds last Saturday.

Basement Revolver (indie rock / lo-fi; Hamilton, Canada; 2:15 PM, Green Door Store; 6:15 PM, Patterns upstairs)
One of the upshots of attending The Great Escape is that it has arguably the most international line-up of any emerging music festival in the UK. Female-fronted Basement Revolver is one of a handful of acts having travelled thousands of miles to Brighton, besides the Aussies, of course. Bringing their reverb-heavy guitar chords and the sweet voice of Chrisy Hurn, they’ll have two chances on Thursday to wow Brighton crowds.

CRIMER (synthpop / dance; Switzerland; Thursday, 10:15 PM, Bau Wow; Friday, 1:30 PM, Bau Wow)
You a fan of Depeche Mode’s beats and Dave Gahan’s sultry drawl? I’m gonna put it out there and say you’re gonna love CRIMER from the Continent. The Great Escape blurb presumably supplied by him describes his look as pure boyband, but don’t let his hair parting put you off. Seems a bit strange that they have him on early Friday afternoon (I’d suggest you see him on the Thursday night instead) but hey, maybe he can turn Bau Wow into a sweaty disco before the 2 o’clock hour. Wait and see!

Declan Welsh and the Decadent West (punk; Glasgow; Friday, 12:30 PM, One Church and 7:15 PM, Green Door Store; 9:15 PM, Marine Room [Harbour Hotel])
I think it’s come time in this list to bring in something more subversive. I guess I don’t think of Glasgow as being very punk: perhaps it’s because both times I’ve visited, everyone’s been super nice to me, including the very large man with a very large ginger beard who shared a table with me at Nice and Sleazys. But I digress. Quoting their TGE bio directly, “Donald Trump and Theresa May watch out! The Revolution will be well dressed and speaking in Glaswegian.” RAWR.

Franc Moody (funk / dance; London; Friday, 2:40 PM, Beach House)
Not a guy from France, phew! No, Franc Moody is a London collective bringing da funk and da dance to Brighton’s seaside. Apparently they have been doing this for a while, in so-called ‘infamous’ (::giggles thinking of Three Amigos:: ) warehouse parties in Tottenham. Friday afternoon at TGE is oddly full of dance acts, so I can only hope that no matter what the weather, Franc Moody (and everyone else for that matter) can manage to get bodies bumpin’ before official wine o’clock.

Saint Raymond (pop; Nottingham; Thursday, 3:30 PM, Marine Room [Harbour Hotel])
This singer/songwriter has already been out on the road with the likes of Gabrielle Aplin, Ed Sheeran and HAIM, so it shouldn’t come as much surprise that Callum Burrows’ style of music is firmly in the pop genre. Burrows blends a synth-driven ‘80s sound with feel good pop lyrics. Apparently in the early days back home in Notts, lazy journos compared him to local acts Jake Bugg and Dog is Dead. No more.

 

Live at Leeds 2018 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets (part 1)

 
By on Monday, 30th April 2018 at 11:00 am
 

This year’s Live at Leeds 2018 best bets preview will be longer than past years because a lot of the acts (more than in past years, I reckon!) will also appear at Liverpool Sound City or The Great Escape, or both. As a result, I listened to ever band on the Live at Leeds schedule, then cross-referenced the lists so you, the music discoverer, can find them at another event if applicable. The Great Escape will take place in Brighton in 2 weeks’ time, and I am planning to post a Great Escape-specific best bets that will pick up anyone exemplary that I wouldn’t have written about here if they aren’t appearing in Leeds. Hope that all makes sense! If you’d like to read my previous, more general preview on Live at Leeds 2018, follow this link.

Please note: as we always recommend in all of TGTF’s festival previews, the information we post here on Live at Leeds 2018 is current at the time of posting. We strongly encourage you to check in at the Live at Leeds 2018 official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Wristbands for the event in Leeds this Saturday, the 5th of May are still available at the bargain price of £36 plus handling if purchased online; early bird and VIP tickets are now sold out. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available here.

SXSW 2018 (or earlier) alums: Here’s a list of artists we either saw last month in Austin (or even in previous years) who we enjoyed AND/OR we previewed ahead of the festival -AND- will also be appearing at Live at Leeds this coming Saturday. For your convenience, I’ve listed them in order of appearance on the day so you can slot them into your growing schedule.

IDLES (12:00 PM, Wardrobe [Dr. Martens stage])
Superorganism (2:45 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
ONR (5:00 PM, Lending Room)
The RPMs (5:00 PM, A Nation of Shopkeepers [Too Many Blogs stage])
Dermot Kennedy (6:00 PM, Academy [Leeds Festival stage])
Sam Fender (6:15 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
Stella Donnelly (7:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
TOUTS (7:00 PM, A Nation of Shopkeepers [Too Many Blogs stage])
Fizzy Blood (7:15 PM, Key Club)
Spring King (7:15 PM, Leeds Beckett main stage)
Ten Tonnes (7:30 PM, Leeds Church, Dork stage)
Yak (8:30 PM, Wardrobe [Dr. Martens stage])
Blaenavon (8:45 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
Her’s (9:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
The Vaccines (9:00 PM, Academy [Leeds Festival stage])
Wildwood Kin (9:00 PM, Leeds International Spiegeltent)
The Xcerts (9:30 PM, Key Club)
Pale Waves (11:15 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])

Apollo Junction (electropop; Leeds; 12:00 PM, Trinity stage)
This band from North Yorkshire have been knocking around for the last 6 years with their brand of electropop and somehow, I have only discovered them now. Precious little is available online about them but according to this article, they enjoy Yorkshire Tea and fat rascals at Betty’s, which wins them bonus points in my book. Check them out before an A&R stumbles on them and they get whisked off to bigger venues.

The Orielles (garage rock; Halifax; 12:00 PM, Holy Trinity Church, CLASH stage)
We’ve featured The Orielles over the last 5 years on TGTF, so you’re probably wondering why would I include them here. They released their debut album ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ in February on Heavenly Recordings, and the LP has received accolades, including from The Guardian (“this album is a masterclass in how to produce guitar music that feels anything but futile: by making it specific, strange and superior to much of what’s come before.”). We knew them before they was and now you can enjoy them as a special guest at Live at Leeds. NB: They will also be appearing at Liverpool Sound City later on Saturday at the District and The Great Escape in a fortnight’s time, performing twice on Thursday the 17th of May.

SHEAFS (rock; 1:00 PM, Hyde Park Social Club)
The River Sheaf flows through Sheffield, so I’d fathom a guess that this group of Sheffield Hallam University graduates named themselves after it. This is a band with that snotty punk attitude and muscular guitar rock to back it up. They’ve been selling out venues in the UK and across the Continent, and it seems this is merely the beginning for them. NB: They will be performing at The Great Escape Saturday night the 19th of May at Hope and Ruin.

Tors (folk; Devon; 1:00 PM, Chapel)
Changing gears to a more conventional singer/songwriter outfit, my ears happened upon Tors, a quartet from Devon who amIACre miles away from the region’s most famous musical export Muse. Equally adept at a cappella four-part harmony and sweeping, guitar-driven, folky soundscapes ala Fleet Foxes and Goldheart Assembly, they’re for those interested in a slower, yet richer musical experience. NB: Tors appear Friday night the 18th of May at St. Mary’s Church at The Great Escape.

The Snuts (rock; Whitburn, West Lothian; 2:15 PM, Key Club)
I imagine most bands from Scotland are asked if they are from Glasgow or Edinburgh. The Snuts are from Whitburn, West Lothian, smack dab in between the two. I reckon they must favour Glasgow, as they’ve named a song after it that’s already hit over 440,000 streams on Spotify. No wonder: they’ve got that feel good guitar rock vibe going that everyone loves. Well, most everyone, right?

Black Futures (rock / electronic; London; 3:15 PM, Key Club)
Love psych rock? Love electronic? Hate that the two genres are never together in one band? Fear no more. Black Futures from London are a duo that have somehow successfully melded the two, giving each its due. A band after my own heart. NB: Black Futures will appear at the Great Escape Thursday the 17th of May at Green Door Store.

Hollow Coves (folk; Brisbane, Australia; 4:00 PM, Leeds International Spiegeltent)
Folk duo Hollow Coves will be travelling quite a distance for Live at Leeds. They hail from the hometown of BIGSOUND, the picturesque Queensland port city of Brisbane. You can expect angelically beautiful harmonies from the acoustically inclined folk duo. NB: Hollow Coves will appear twice on Thursday the 17th of May at the Great Escape.

Knightstown (electronic; Brighton via Glasgow; 4:00 PM, Headrow House [NME stage])
In a previous life, Michael Aston was a freelance composer and the keyboardist in C Duncan’s live band. Over the last few years, he’s been making music of his own under the name Knightstown. Aston’s swirly, emotional falsetto vocals float over his electronic compositions, drawing him favourable comparisons to Jamie Woon. He’ll provide an atmospheric performance that will be in sharp contrast to most of the other performances in Leeds on Saturday. NB: He will perform Saturday the 19th of May at The Great Escape as part of the FatCat Records showcase.

The Indigo Project (indie rock; Leeds; 4:00 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
I always like a good local band getting the opportunity to showcase at the festival in their own hometown. The Indigo Project are also no strangers to Live at Leeds, having played the event last year. Jangly, bright guitar pop guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

whenyoung (pop-punk; London via Limerick, Ireland; 4:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
Pop-punk may have been borne out of the Noughties, but it’s still alive and kicking. Female-fronted whenyoung, Irish transplants in the Capital, recall the peppiness of Avril Lavigne while sitting nicely alongside acts like Dream Wife and False Advertising. NB: whenyoung are scheduled to play at the Haunt on Thursday night the 17th of May at the Great Escape.

Lady Bird (punk; Kent; 4:15 PM, Key Club)
Slaves and Drenge got the party going on political punk a few years ago, and the UK has never looked back since. With IDLES and LIFE performing at back to back SXSWs the past 2 years, it seems likely that their buddies from the South East, Lady Bird, will get an invite to Austin soon enough. Signed to fellow Kent natives Slaves’ Girl Fight Records, their future in releasing the kind of informed punk they want is bright. NB: Lady Bird appear at the Great Escape twice on Friday the 18th of May.

Tremors (synthpop; UK/French band based in London; 4:30 PM, Brudenell Social Club Community Room [DIY Neu stage])
Tremors are two Englishmen and a Frenchman from Marseille who somehow came together with the notion that they were going to meld French electropop and New Wave and they were going to do it on their own. So far, they’ve only released a series of singles, including this year’s two heart-pumping tunes, ‘Technicolour’ and ‘Broken Glass’. As an unashamed fan of synthpop in all its guises, Tremors are a unique curiosity worth your time at Live at Leeds.

Stay tuned for the next part of this preview on Live at Leeds 2018. Hopefully tomorrow!

 

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.

 
 
 

About Us

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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