SXSW 2016: Monday night’s Trackd showcase at Latitude 30 – 14th March 2016

By on Thursday, 24th March 2016 at 2:00 pm

After we were sufficiently fed at Casino El Camino – and heard ‘Love is Like Oxygen’ twice, thanks to overzealous Sweet fans feeding the jukebox? – it was time to make it over to Latitude 30 for the first of a week of nights featuring (mostly) British acts who had made it across the pond to perform for SXSW 2016 audiences at what is now famously known as The British Music Embassy. Instead of a Creative Belfast night as had been done for many years past, this year’s Monday night showcase was sponsored by Trackd, a new app for available for iPhone that allows the user to record music, collaborate with your audience (in an artist’s case, their fans), be able to remix other artists’ work, while also providing yet another social media platform where one can build a fan base of like-minded, inventive artists from the ground up.

Northern Irish singer/songwriter Ciaran Lavery played first on the showcase, at what would turn out to be his least problematic performance in Austin all week. (I’ll leave Carrie to tell you what happened to him at the Output Belfast afternoon showcase on Thursday when we get there.) It’s unmistakable from his ginger hair and beard that he’s Irish, and in the great tradition of Irish musicians who came before, he is an incredibly emotional storyteller.

Ciaran Lavery at the Trackd showcase, Monday 14 March 2016 at SXSW 2016 1
His song ‘Shame’ touched me in particular, his voice cracking near the end with the words, “I want to live between the lie and where the truth dies.” Lavery’s next album ‘Let Bad In’ (including the stellar track ‘Return to Form’, which he also played in Austin) is scheduled to be out at the end of May on Believe Recordings, and we’ll definitely want to take that platter for a spin when it arrives at TGTF Towers.

Up next and showcasing at their fourth-ever SXSW 2016 were The Crookes, but with a new line-up since their last visit to Austin in 2014. (Original drummer Russell Bates was replaced by Adam Crofts in early 2015.) With an EP and four studio albums to their name now – their most recent, ‘Lucky Ones’, having been released on their own label Anywhere Records in the UK in January – they clearly had a tough decision in choosing which songs to play during their allotted 30 minutes.

The Crookes - George Waite at Trackd showcase, Monday 14 March 2016 at SXSW 2016 2

As one might expect, entries from ‘Lucky Ones’, including single ‘The World is Waiting’, plus both ‘Roman Candle’ and ‘If Only For Tonight’ (songs singled out by Carrie in her album review 2 months ago) were prominent inclusions this night in Austin. The Sheffield band set their devoted fans’ hearts alight, causing a massive danceathon down the front during their time on the Latitude 30 stage. (Hilariously, the same group of fans also followed around Kent’s Get Inuit during the week, including at the same exact venue at the same exact time Tuesday night.) For good measure, though, they could not forget breakthrough single ‘Backstreet Lovers’ nor set closer ‘Afterglow’, and upon the playing of the latter, I told Carrie I refused to honour our 2014 drink bet of the band playing it or ‘Maybe in the Dark’. Hey, it’s not my fault they don’t play their best single anymore, is it? Ha.

Third on the bill was the svelte and sassy blonde Violet Skies from South Wales, who I snuck out during Ciaran Lavery’s soundcheck to speak with outside Latitude 30 earlier in the evening. Her dramatic aesthetic of black, flowy garb matched well with her soulful voice, backed more than competently by her sultry beat-producing band. She was chosen as one of 12 bands for the Welsh Horizons / Gorwelions scheme in 2015, no mean feat considering the wealth of talent currently coming out of the land of the red dragon.

Violet Skies at Trackd showcase, Monday 14 March 2016 at SXSW 2016 2

This is definitely a case of not judging a book by its cover: I mean, how is it possible that from a young Welsh lass so slight – and baring her midriff, too – that such a powerful, emotional voice on a song like ‘Jealousy’ comes out? But it does, and her vocal delivery is near flawless. While the kids might be more keen on the hot goddess image she projects visually, I hope that it’s her gorgeous voice and songwriting talent that are what push her to the top of the heap of young British singer/songwriter hopefuls.

After a thank you to everyone for coming by the founders of Trackd, the evening closed out with a boisterous performance by Ghanese singer/songwriter JoJo Abot, now calling New York City home. When I say boisterous, I mean boisterous. The large black bow atop Ms. Abot’s head should have been a dead giveaway that this was going to be more than an ordinary performance of world music, if there is such a thing.

JoJo Abot at Trackd showcase, Monday 14 March 2016 at SXSW 2016

Soulful singing and equally soulful backing rhythms translated to a musical product so irresistible, I went to use the ladies’ for a brief moment, only to come out and find punters had invaded the stage. This was of course much to the chagrin of Latitude 30’s resident bouncer, who we have come to know and love over these many years of covering the festival. At the end of the day (err, night at the Trackd showcase), a good time was had by all and it was a good ease-in into the music festival proper that would begin in earnest on Tuesday.

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[…] Fifty’s afternoon programming. We here at TGTF are no stranger to her music, as we covered her at the Monday night Trackd and at the Friday afternoon Cerdd Cymru / Music Wales showcases. Her silvery-lilac hair was stark […]

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