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SXSW 2017: A Friday night mix of British, American and Canadian acts – 17th March 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

It felt somewhat strange that I spent St. Patrick’s Day at SXSW 2017 on mostly non-Irish acts. Friday afternoon at SXSW has typically been reserved for the Full Irish Breakfast, but that had happened on Thursday this year. The only hint of Ireland I heard on this St. Patrick’s day was early on Friday, when I stopped briefly at Latitude 30 for the Output Belfast day show. My Friday evening was instead full to the brim with British and American acts, save one Canadian artist who made a strong impression near the end.

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I started the evening with an early show at Stubb’s BBQ. Reading quartet Sundara Karma were first on Friday night’s bill, (as we had discussed in my interview with them on Tuesday) and they played before just as the sun was beginning to set over Austin. The crowd at Stubb’s trickled in slowly, with punters lingering over dinner and beer. But once the band started playing, all attention was on the stage.

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Sundara Karma frontman Oscar Pollock didn’t spend a lot of time on pleasantries, instead allowing the band’s sharp lyrics and edgy guitar melodies to do most of the talking. But make no mistake, this band cultivates an almost psychedelic visual impression onstage as well, with long hair and flashy gestures to match their dynamic alt-rock sound. They certainly weren’t daunted by the large outdoor stage at Stubb’s, and their impact was successfully established. I overheard several punters enthusiastically sharing the name Sundara Karma as I made my way to the exit after their set. Stay tuned for more on Sundara Karma in my recap of Saturday night at SXSW, posting soon.

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My next stop was west of Congress, at another venue I’d never visited before, the Tap Room at the Market. The Market is a bustling, trendy Austin night spot, with the smaller Tap Room nestled below. On this night, the Tap Room was hosting the Grammy Museum Homegrown showcase, which featured a curation of artists from the Los Angeles area. I arrived on the scene just in time to hear one of the singers I’d featured in my preview of L.A. artists at SXSW.

BeLL

Alt-pop singer BeLL was already onstage, and I was immediately taken aback by the power in her vocal sound. I was excited to hear her quirky but catchy single ‘Bang Bang (Remember My Name)’, which had caught my attention in writing the aforementioned preview. It debuted back in November and has already been featured in a television trailer on ABC Family here in the States; you can catch a listen below before it blows up on radio waves everywhere.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/ljNVT3b5Y0A[/youtube]

Warbly Jets

Up next was a band who pride themselves on not fitting into the L.A. music scene, alt-rock quartet Warbly Jets. Their sound is certainly more in the supersonic jet-propelled vein than the sunny pop and laid-back folk you might typically expect to hear from Southern California. Onstage, they were both smoothly self-assured and and a tiny bit cocky, convincing their audience that they’re a force to be reckoned with. Their debut single ‘Alive’ was a highlight of the evening.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/hDVHvirhpKk[/youtube]

OPS

I was already peripherally aware of next band on the docket, Ocean Park Standoff, because my kids know their current single ‘Good News’. It’s an infectiously upbeat track, perfect for radio play or maybe even for a summer 2017 Spotify playlist. As it turns out, the song is also pretty representative of what Ocean Park Standoff does in live performance. The band were smiling and relaxed throughout their set, and their good vibes were expansive enough for a much larger room. Keep an eye out for this trio to make their mark during their upcoming American tour dates with Third Eye Blind.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/TX9ODx2_Vqk[/youtube]

Following my stop at the Grammy Museum showcase, I had intended to try to catch Ryan Adams at Austin City Limits, even nabbing a SXXPress pass for that show earlier in the day. But while I was at Stubb’s, I got the news that Adams had cancelled his performance due to illness. I was mildly disappointed, but I did have a backup plan to catch another American singer/songwriter, David Ramirez at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop.

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People in Austin were out in full force to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and 6th Street was jam-packed. Adding to the crush and confusion was the fact that many of the music venues had multiple queues outside to deal with the different priority entries: Platinum and Music Badges, Interactive and Film Badges, Music Wristbands, and paying customers. Obviously this was only an issue for the high-demand shows, but it’s something SXSW organisers will need to focus on for next year, as many of the venues simply didn’t have the space or staff available to cope with up to 4 different queues for each show. Maggie Mae’s was one of the most difficult venues to get into, not only because is it located in the heart of 6th Street, but because it has two stages and only one entrance.

David Ramirez band

Austin native Ramirez had a full band in attendance for his show at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop. In my previous experience, this has been a nice addition to his sound. He’s a starkly effective performer alone, but the depth and vibrance of his country-rock sound really come out with the addition of backing vocals, keyboards and drums. Unfortunately for Ramirez, his Friday night set was plagued by technical problems. After a lengthy and apparently unsuccessful soundcheck, Ramirez and his band played a truncated set, leaving out several favourite songs that appeared on his written setlist. He did, however, play a couple of newer songs that got the local crowd’s attention, including the London-referencing track ‘Too Far Away’.

I finished the evening (and started the next morning) at St. David’s Episcopal Church, where the Communion Music showcase was being held. I’d been to the church’s Bethell Hall already on this trip to Austin, but I hadn’t yet visited the Sanctuary, and by midnight on Friday night, it was already becoming full in advance of a performance by Rag’n’Bone Man scheduled for 1 AM.

This was the one occasion during the SXSW week when the availability of SXXPress passes worked to my advantage. Earlier in the week, I had either failed to get passes in time, or I simply hadn’t needed the ones I did get. But I’d managed to get one for St. David’s on this night, and the staff at the church were remarkably adept at handling their queues, probably because the venue has been open to non-credential holders in past years. I intentionally arrived early to the Communion showcase, knowing by their reputation that the earlier performers on the bill would be worth seeing, even if I wasn’t already familiar.

"Charlotte

I wasn’t disappointed in that regard with French-Canadian pop singer Charlotte Cardin. Her silky, delicate vocals and soulful pop song arrangements were easy on the ears without being too saccharine, perhaps thanks to their ever-so-subtle jazz inflections. Her debut EP ‘Big Boy’ was released last July on Cult Nation Records and features songs in both English and French, including standout track ‘Like It Doesn’t Hurt’. She also won over a few fans with this cool, almost aloof-sounding version of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/OOzetKrKrrA[/youtube]

Very few punters left after Cardin’s performance, and despite the dreaded 1 AM time slot, there was a bit of hustle-and-bustle in St. David’s Sanctuary surrounding the arrival of Rag’n’Bone Man. Mary had reported to me the very long queue outside the British Music Embassy for his performance there earlier in the evening, and the audience here were fairly buzzing with anticipation.

"RBM

In a bit of a surprise, Rag’n’Bone Man (aka Rory Graham) started his setlist with the song most of us already knew, ‘Human’. This was an acoustic version, less immediately bombastic than the one we’ve heard on American radio, but it was singularly and tastefully appropriate for performance on the St. David’s stage. Graham was equally gentle and mild-tempered in his onstage banter, though he did pick up the dynamic in his songs as the set went on. We were treated to current American radio single ‘Skin’ as well as a stunningly beautiful song I hadn’t heard before called ‘Grace’, which you can take a listen to just below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/SCnsEy0tpbw[/youtube]

The authenticity of Rag’n’Bone Man’s performance, along with the high-quality of his songwriting and musicianship, exemplifies what I’ve come to expect from the Communion showcase over my years at SXSW. Though I wasn’t able to see the whole show on this Friday night, I was glad to at least catch the end of it, discovering a promising new artist and witnessing a rapidly-rising up-and-comer in the process.

 

Live at Leeds 2017 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: as we always recommend in all of TGTF’s festival previews, the information we post here on Live at Leeds 2017 is current at the time of posting. We strongly encourage you to check in at the Live at Leeds 2017 official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Wristbands for the event in Leeds on Saturday the 29th of April are still available at the bargain price of £32.50 plus handling if purchased online; VIP tickets are sold out. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available here.

SXSW 2017 alums: Here’s a list of artists we either saw last month in Austin who we enjoyed AND/OR we previewed ahead of the festival -AND- will also be appearing at Live at Leeds in 2 Saturdays’ time. For your convenience, I’ve listed them in order of appearance on the day so you can slot them into your growing schedule. The best of the best are marked with an asterisk. (*)

LIFE (2:00 PM, Leeds Beckett Union Stage 2 [Dr. Martens Presents]) *
Ten Tonnes (2:00 PM, Chapel) *
Airways (3:00 PM, Leeds Beckett Union Stage 2 [Dr. Martens Presents])
Jade Bird (4:30 PM, Faversham Patio)
Annabel Allum (5:00 PM, Social)
Be Charlotte (5:00 PM, Faversham)
IDLES (7:15 PM, Key Club [DORK Stage])
She Drew the Gun (8:00 PM, Wardrobe)
Temples (8:00 PM, Church)
Lewis Watson (8:15 PM, Holy Trinity Church [Clash Stage])
The Academic (9:00 PM, Lending Room [WTGR Stage]) *
Dream Wife (9:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY Stage])
Slaves (9:00 PM, Academy)
Flamingods (9:45 PM, Leeds Beckett Union Stage 2 [Dr. Martens Presents])
Rag‘n’Bone Man (9:45 PM, Leeds University Union Refectory)
The Big Moon (10:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY Stage])
GURR (10:45 PM, Brudenell Social Club Games Room [DIY Neu Stage])
AJ Tracey (11:00 PM, Faversham)
Let’s Eat Grandma (11:00 PM, Chapel)

To add to the best 3 from above and round things out to a even 10 acts, here are an additional 7 I recommend from the fantastic Live at Leeds 2017 schedule:

The Gallery (Wakefield; 12:00 PM, Lending Room [WTGR Stage])
Wakefield is, of course, famous for being the birthplace The Cribs. But the Jarmans should probably get used to sharing the city with another band. The jangly guitars of The Gallery, reminiscent of Arctic Monkeys before they turned into Queens of the Stone Age, will take you back to the simpler times of British indie.

Wyvern Lingo (Wicklow, Ireland; 1:00 PM, Nation of Shopkeepers)
While already deemed national treasures in their country, most people outside Ireland have only heard of Wyvern Lingo from their association with Irish megastar Hozier, their members Karen and Caoimhe providing him backing vocals at live shows and the group supporting him on UK and Irish tours. Imagine the Staves if they’d gone pop and r&b.

Matt Maltese (London; 2:00 PM, Wardrobe)
It took Morrissey a while to be anointed the title ‘The Pope of Mope’. That said, given the current state of world affairs, it stands to reason that there should rightly be more artists coming out and telling it like it is without sugarcoating it. Piano playing Matt Maltese is one of them, coming out with the sweepingly beautiful ‘As the World Caves In’ to convey his despair. Seriously, close your eyes, and you could swear you’re hearing The Moz.

The Wandering Hearts (London; 3:15 PM, Holy Trinity Church [Clash Stage])
A stark contrast to all the indie and pop acts at this year’s Live at Leeds are The Wandering Hearts, an Americana / alt-country group from the big smoke. Recent signees to Decca Records, the band will provide a welcome midday set different from nearly everyone else invited to this event, with their lush harmonies smartly picked guitar.

Paris Youth Foundation (Liverpool; 5:00 PM, Oporto)
The return of Ride to the record shops this year proves the washy guitar wall of sound era isn’t over. Liverpudlians Paris Youth Foundation takes this and does one better by adding synthpop to the mix, lending an anthemic feel to their tracks. Having released their debut album late last year, this is still early days for them, but I reckon now is time to get on the bandwagon.

Tender Central (Devon; 5:15 PM, Holy Trinity Church [Clash Stage])
India Bourne is a Devon-born, classically trained cellist who now goes by the stage name Tender Central. It’s a good description of her sound, which takes full advantage of her ethereal vocals and her careful crafting of an equally evocative, all-enveloping soundscape. Take a moment and consider the thought of seeing such music being performed in a church. Got it?

The Pale White (Newcastle; 5:30 PM, Church)
While Patrick Carney is busy remoulding his girlfriend Michelle Branch, now is an excellent time to discover the band who will dethrone the Black Keys when they aren’t paying attention. While we can’t be sure their successors will be Newcastle’s The Pale White, their brand of down and dirty blues rock is a suitable North East alternative to that of Southampton’s Band of Skulls.

 

Spoon / June and November 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 at 9:00 am
 

Texas indie favourites Spoon have announced a trio of live dates in England in November 2017. These are in addition to another trio of dates in the UK in June already on sale. The group will no doubt be playing classics from their back catalogue alongside new tunes from their newest album, ‘Hot Thoughts’, which was released in mid-March on Matador Records. You can read my review of the title track single through here; the group performed at SXSW 2017 last month. The new winter dates will go on sale this Friday, the 21st of April, at 9 AM. To read much more on TGTF about Spoon, use this link.

Tuesday 27th June 2017 – Manchester Gorilla
Wednesday 28th June 2017 – Glasgow Arts School
Friday 30th June 2017 – London Forum
Monday 6th November 2017 – Brighton Concorde 2 (on sale Friday 21 April 2017)
Tuesday 7th November 2017 – Liverpool Arts Club (on sale Friday 21 April 2017)
Thursday 9th November 2017 – Cambridge Junction (on sale Friday 21 April 2017)

 

(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2343: Ten Tonnes

 
By on Tuesday, 18th April 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Hertford singer/songwriter Ethan Barnett, known professionally as Ten Tonnes, was one of several great artists I had the pleasure to interview out in Austin during SXSW 2017. You can catch up on my chat with him here, taking place after his appearance at the Twix / Culture Collide showcase Wednesday afternoon at Bar 96.

At that afternoon show, he announced the release of single ‘Silver Heat’ would be at midnight that very night. Now ‘Silver Heat’ has its own promo video. As a keen cook, I feel quite at a loss to explain to you what this video is about, as ‘Silver Heat’ isn’t a cooking term I know. Maybe the whole point of this is to be entirely non sequitur, with Barnett performing in a cramped restaurant kitchen, bothering the staff? I do wonder, though, what the acoustics must be like in such a kitchen… Watch the Ten Tonnes video for ‘Silver Heat’ below’; the single will appear his upcoming EP ‘Born to Lose’, scheduled for a release date of the 9th of June on Warner Brothers. To catch up on all of TGTF’s coverage of his music, follow this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vqhn5_CQ-o8[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2017: Friday afternoon’s focus on hearing health, with a bit of live music from Ciaran Lavery and The Sandinistas – 17th March 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 18th April 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

During one of our many treks through the Austin Convention Center earlier in the week, Mary and I had noticed that free hearing screenings were being offered to musicians and music professionals attending SXSW 2017. In Real Life, I’m currently back at university studying for my own clinical doctorate in Audiology, so I was naturally intrigued. After spending Friday morning at the BMI / AT&T Fiber Acoustic Brunch), I had a brief interval of down time, so I walked over to the Convention Center to take advantage of the service.

I arrived at Mezzanine Room 2 just as audiologists from Nashville-based charity Songs for Sound and Austin-based Estes Audiology were finishing their set up for the day, and the staff were kind enough to chat with me as they worked. They explained that Songs for Sound’s travelling Hear the Music Project had stopped in Austin for SXSW to provide music professionals attending the festival with free hearing exams and audiology consultations, while Estes Audiology had teamed with MusiCares, another non-profit music charity, to provide musicians with free custom-made ear protection. But their services weren’t only intended for showcasing artists. I’m not a practicing musician myself, but I qualified for an exam and ear moulds as a 5-year music journalist.

To begin the process, I had to fill out a quick form regarding my hearing health and occupational history, to confirm that I was eligible. Once that was finished, I had ear moulds made, which would be used to create my custom-fit earplugs. A thick, blue foam was squirted into each of my ears and allowed to harden. The mould was removed, and I was asked how much hearing protection I needed. I chose the moderate-level 17 dB attenuation, which is recommended for loud music concerts or club environments. My custom ear protectors are due to arrive by mail in just a couple of weeks, and as it turns out, I have extra motivation to use them.

After the ear mould fitting, I was administered a pure tone audiometry screening, using a touch pad and over-the-ear headphones. I was dismayed to learn that my hearing test result suggested a possible mild low frequency hearing loss. Songs for Sound audiologist Paul Shanley told me that this would be consistent with frequent exposure to loud music without hearing protection, and he encouraged me to wear earplugs when attending gigs. If you’ve read TGTF’s coverage of SXSW in the past, you might know that I’ve received this advice before. I’m typically loath to wear earplugs when listening to music, because I feel that they dampen the vibrant tone colors and subtle nuances in the sound, but this was a sobering reminder to protect both my hearing and my ability to enjoy live music.

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After my hearing exam was complete, I met Mary at Latitude 30 for a brief stop at the Output Belfast day show, where she had gone to see electronic musician Ryan Vail. The Northern Irish showcase has become a bit of a tradition for us at TGTF, so I was a little sad that we didn’t have time to stay for the whole thing. But I couldn’t help pausing for a quick listen to the next artist on the bill, Ciaran Lavery, who once again commanded the room with only the raw, powerful sound of his singing voice.

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I made sure to have my earplugs at the ready for our next stopover at Valhalla, where we caught Welsh punk rockers The Sandinistas. Mary had seen them the day before here at SXSW, but she was impressed enough that she thought I should hear them too. And indeed, their punk rock sound was massive inside the small, red-tinged Valhalla, despite their basic guitar, bass and drums set up. Even watching their set for Music Tastes Good felt like a high-impact aerobic workout: just the thing I needed to get re-energised for the remainder of the afternoon. We featured their debut single ‘Ready to Blow’ in our SXSW 2017 preview coverage of the Welsh acts showcasing this year in Austin, and you can check out a live session performance of its b-side ‘Down on the Street Today’ just below, courtesy of Studio Toy.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/eVH8rpPMIPI[/youtube]

Mary and I spent the last part of Friday afternoon back at the Convention Center, where Mary took the time to have her own hearing screened and to get fitted for custom hearing protection. Her hearing exam results were squeaky clean, undoubtedly because she’s fastidious about wearing earplugs to gigs, but she still chose to take advantage of the customised ear moulds to help ensure that her hearing remains intact for many more years of music listening. Fellow live music lovers, take note!

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On the subject of long music careers, our final appointment for Friday afternoon was at a panel session celebrating the 20th anniversary of a leading independent music label. You can read my summary of that panel session, ‘Bella Union at 20’, right back here. Stay tuned to TGTF for my coverage of Friday night at SXSW 2017 events, which will post later this week.

 

(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Single Review: Dave – Revenge

 
By on Tuesday, 18th April 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by Leyla Leonard

Dave is back, and the 18-year-old South Londoner ‘s new single ‘Revenge’ is a bold statement from the young wordsmith. Anyone who has followed Dave’s career to date will know his musicianship and lyricism stand alone, and ‘Revenge’ serves to strengthen this. The single was produced by longtime collaborator Fraser T. Smith, whose credits include recent collaborations with both Stormzy and Kano, and who has made the unlikely journey from prog rock guitarist to helping shape the UK’s vibrant grime scene.

As an artist, Dave manages to smack down any form of pigeonholing with his emotive, melodically charged piano playing, as well as spitting bars with enough fire to light up even the darkest night sky. Having already collaborated with London scene peers and fellow rising stars AJ Tracey on the bouncy, lyrical back an forth ‘Thiago Silva’, and the UK Afro beat king J Hus on ‘Samantha’. Anyone unsure of Dave’s often poetic lyrical ability and understanding of his environment only has to watch his performance of ‘Panic Attack’ as part of BBC Radio 1’s Future Festival. One piano, one spotlight and Dave’s words. It’s impressive to say the least, taking you a personal journey of urban tragedy and experience through the eyes of Dave. It’s hard to mention the artist without touching on ‘Wanna Know’, the track that Drake jumped on the remix of earlier this year after spotting the Streatham Vale raised Londoner on YouTube, and took Dave’s name to an international audience. Although with or without the co-sign, it’s becoming clear that Dave has the talent and the ambition to get there on his own, and on his own terms.

On ‘Revenge’, we hear possible nods to the roots of grime and the ‘90s computerized beats that often featured on early grime instrumentals such as ‘Pulse X’ and ‘Rhythm ‘N’ Gash’. The theme of gaming carry over into the visuals with ‘Game Over’ graphics popping up that put you in the position of the player. His bars flow effortlessly over the synths as he weaves in and out of stories of younger years on the roads, and his mind set that overcame circumstance and pushed him to pursue his ambition. ‘Revenge’ maintains a steady tempo and almost acts as a mission statement. Dave and his friends have a plan and it’s clear that is already working. The payback is in motion and in this game, Dave is out to win: “Content with your life on the block you’re a mess no vision, you don’t have the fucking ambition”.

The track carries on this wave of insightful, playful lyrics that have already come to define the young musician. “I remember when I rapped in school for the love and my teachers thought it would never get me far…now ‘Wanna Know’ is taking over cities like Genghis Khan.” This latest offering is confident, ambitious and authentic, serving young London in a way those in more traditional forms of power could never even touch on, because put quite simply he has walked in the same shoes as so many struggling to make sense of how to fight the social restraints holding them back. But perhaps most importantly, there is a sense of only just getting a glimpse of what Dave is capable of. If ‘Revenge’ demonstrates his current musical ability, it’s more than exciting to think of Dave in 10 years’ time. Dave’s social commentary IS the art of street art, and his future will likely be nothing less then blinding.

8.5/10

Dave’s new single ‘Revenge’ is out now. You can read editor Mary’s coverage of Dave at BBC Radio 1 showcase Tuesday night at SXSW 2017 at the British Music Embassy through here.

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