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SXSW 2018: Tuesday morning brunch with Output Belfast and my first taste of this year’s music conference – 13th March 2018

 
By on Wednesday, 28th March 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo: emcee and organiser Mark Gordon with Touts

Following my frenzied Monday night at SXSW 2018, I started off Tuesday at a slightly more relaxed pace, with my third visit to the Output Belfast Boat Party. The party consists of brunch on a boat, floating down the Colorado River, with entertainment provided by the some of the finest musicians Northern Ireland has to offer. While the brunch and the scenery are always pleasant for this affair, it’s really the high quality of the music that draws me in every year, and Output Belfast didn’t disappoint in 2018.

Lost Brothers internal 2

Following brief speeches by organiser and emcee Mark Gordon of Score Draw Music and Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala MacAllister, the music began with folk duo The Lost Brothers, who had a hand in organising the inaugural Northern Irish boat party back in 2015. They were back in Austin this year with an excellent new record in tow, titled ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’. You can read editor Mary’s review of the album through here.The album was recorded in my adopted hometown of Tucson, and the distinct southwestern desert flavour of the new songs, along with The Lost Brothers’ yearning vocal harmonies, actually made me feel a bit homesick. Midway through their set, the Lost Brothers were joined by Austin musician Ragtime Willie, who had also appeared here back in 2015 and who added the bright tone color of resonator guitar to the muted sonic mix.

Joshua Burnside internal

After a brief stage break, 2017 Northern Irish Music Prize winner Joshua Burnside began his set. As our Adam McCourt reported in his review of the prize-winning album ‘Ephrata’, “the album seems to serve a pivotal point in Burnside’s career, transitioning him from indie folk to a strand of alt-folk that incorporates world music, found sounds, synths and subtle experimentations with techno.” Burnside’s eclectic sound was more rock oriented than I expected in this live performance, where he was accompanied by a brilliant band comprised of drums, bass, and trumpet alongside his own electric guitar.

Touts internal

Lest we in the audience be lulled to sleep as our boat ride drifted from morning into afternoon, the final act on the docket seemed deliberately designed to recharge and revitalise our senses. Derry punk-rock outfit Touts gave off a sullen demeanor that disguised their raw, frenetic energy, and they made more much more exuberant noise than might be expected on a polite brunch cruise. These lads are young and still relatively new on the scene, but in terms of unfiltered potential, I’d put them high on the list of acts to watch from SXSW 2018. Touts also appeared on the BBC Introducing showcase at Latitude 30 on Tuesday night; you can watch part of that performance just below.

After disembarking from the boat, Mary and I parted ways (you can read her Tuesday afternoon recap here), and I headed to the convention center to catch my first conference session of the week. In The Horseshoe: The Roots of Canadian Rock n’ Roll, author David McPherson shared his thoughts on celebrated Toronto music venue The Horseshoe, drawing from his recent book on the topic, titled ‘The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern: A Complete History’.

David McPherson

McPherson was joined by Horseshoe owner and concert promoter Jeff Cohen, who talked about the challenges of maintaining a high quality music venue in an age when so many mid-size venues, notably New York’s CBGB and The Bottom Line, have been forced to shut down. Cohen emphasised his focus on two main factors: his customers and the artists they come to see. Patrons are consistently drawn in by food, drink and the opportunity to interact with other music-loving patrons, while the artists are rewarded with a quality performance opportunity, including full crowds to play for each night. From the sounds of things, the Horseshoe is likely to be a mainstay in the Toronto live music scene for many years to come. If you find yourself in southeastern Canada for whatever reason, it might be worth your time to check the Horseshoe’s schedule of events–chances are one of your new favourite bands will be gracing its stage.

 

Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: Day 2 roundup (part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 18th October 2016 at 3:00 pm
 

Missed any of my coverage of Hard Working Class Heroes 2016? No problem! Follow this link for the entire archive on TGTF, and part 1 of my Friday at the Dublin festival is through here.

Damola (Dublin) @ Tengu Upstairs

Okay, so I fully admit that I didn’t spend too much time upstairs at Tengu Friday at Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 because a hot, sweaty room full of people is not a fun place for someone who suffers from claustrophobia. And the place was like an oven, noted too by Damola as he yelled between songs to thank everyone for staying despite the oppressive heat. Of what I did hear, I was impressed with the Dublin-based Nigerian rapper’s command of the audience with his captivating beat-perfect vocals, the linchpin of this kind of music. Without it, you’ve lost the audience. In a world where Bob Dylan can win the Nobel Prize for literature on his basis of his body of work in the spoken and sung word, it stands to reason that one day in the future, a socially conscious rapper will do the same. And who better to do that than an artist who calls Ireland home?

Despite the discomfort, it was good experience, as the upstairs stage that night played host to acts part of the Word Up Collective. A Dublin-based group of musicians “like-minded souls working in hip-hop, spoken word, R&B, rap, pop and related genres”, it is inspiring to see a group like this coming together to support one another in what has become a dog-eat-dog industry. It’s very Irish. And it’s undeniable that the next great wave of new Irish artists will be the rappers and hip-hoppers only on the basis of seeing how many people bought tickets specifically to be in this room Friday night.

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

Touts (Derry) @ Hub

I walked into the Hub in the middle of a cover of ‘Louie, Louie’ by Derry hard-rocking Touts. Not exactly a compelling listen. Following the rousing indie success of Dublin locals Girl Band, it’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination that the world is ready for another Irish punk band. Plenty of folks there were up for it in the place, though. However, it ended up sounding little more than a loud wash of sound and just wasn’t for me. I could be wrong though: come next year, they will be supporting Blossoms on their Irish and Northern Irish dates in March 2017. Could they be the Northern Irish answer to Slaves? Hmm…

Train Room (Ballas, County Mayo) @ Wigwam

In yesterday’s report of Exiles, I described stepping back into the ‘80s. Train Room from the small town of Balla in County Mayo, allows us to go back to the ‘90s. Not quite as introspective as shoegaze but with the feel good rock with a vague country bent like American band Gin Blossoms. They’ve just released a new EP, ‘Delicate Bones’, last Friday, which is worth checking out on Spotify.

While they’ve got several band members, it’s obvious Joe Monaghan on guitar is the master of ceremonies, leading his group with his evocative vocals. Sometimes his voice is paired with a female vocalist, who wears a flower in her hair on the same side of her head as I do. I’m sold!

Patrick Freeman (Dublin) @ Wigwam

In some of these reviews of my time at Hard Working Class Heroes, I’ve talked about things that seem to be unique to the Irish musician tradition. Like my first boyfriend who was born in County Cork, the Dublin-based Patrick Freeman spent much of his professional career as a session musician and touring performer. It wasn’t until 2014 when he struck out on his own and released his first EP; his debut album ‘Cherry Blossom’ followed in late 2015. With a full band backing him, his set at HWCH demonstrated his penchant for a smoky, throwback feel to his music. He even dressed the part with a patchwork denim shirt the Eagles would have loved in ‘70s California.

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

Oh Joy (Dublin) @ Tengu Downstairs

In light of Ireland’s unique and engaging musical heritage, it is easy to forget Ireland’s connections to America, how many Irish emigrated during the Great Famine and thereafter to seek a better life. It’s only fair that the Irish took something from us, namely musical influences such as those heard through trio Oh Joy. Whether in the great tradition of anthemic rock via Springsteen or the pain filtered through grunge via Nirvana or Pearl Jam, this is Irish alt-rock with powerful guitars. The Dubliners made for a nice ending and a stark contrast to the two acts just before.

 

Video of the Moment #2202: Blossoms

 
By on Monday, 17th October 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Stockport band Blossoms are currently in America, playing at the Bardot in Hollywood tonight after a sold out show at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn and another at San Francisco’s Rickshaw Stop. While they’ve been in America, the new promo video for ‘Blown Rose’ has been revealed to the world. It follows a different, shall we say more whimsical video for the song when it was released as a single last year.

In this new video version of ‘Blown Rose’, there’s loads of imagery – lit candles, Catholicism (?) – and I guess naturally for a group of lads, a vampy model-type woman. Is she a femme fatale or a woman scorned? Find out by watching the promo below. Blossoms’ self-titled debut album is out now on Virgin EMI, and you can read my review of it through here. While I was away in Ireland, the band announced a four-pack of shows on the Emerald Isle, stopping in Belfast, Galway, Limerick and Dublin in March 2017, which are on sale now. They’ll be supported by Derry’s Touts, who you can read about in my review of Friday night at Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 tomorrow afternoon. To read more of TGTF’s coverage on the band from Stockport, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoGlM_CPF88[/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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