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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Output Belfast, and PIAS in association with AIM at the British Music Embassy – 17th March 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd March 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

The British Music Embassy will return to Latitude 30 at 512 San Jacinto Boulevard, right by the heart of the action off 6th Street during SXSW 2016. Get ready, because the lineups are looking pretty brilliant! On Monday, I previewed the talent on show from Tuesday evening through Thursday evening. Today’s post will detail who is and what’s on Thursday at the venue. Carrie will follow with a preview post of her own of the offerings all day Friday and Saturday to close out the festival.

Thursday at SXSW this year, in case you haven’t looked at your calendar yet, is St. Patrick’s Day, the 17th of March. So it makes total sense that some of the best and brightest talent from Northern Ireland will be lighting up Latitude 30 this afternoon at the Output Belfast showcase, brought to you by Generator NI. Armagh’s Silences will bring their timeless pop sound to start the afternoon on a great note. Jealous of the Birds, aka Naomi Hamilton from Portadown, has already gotten attention from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens for her EP ‘Capricorn’ and will also be appearing Thursday afternoon.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQwYmpmGp4E[/youtube]

Smack dab in the middle of the British Music Embassy Thursday afternoon bill is David C Clements, who has just released his debut album ‘The Longest Day in History’. You can read Carrie’s introduction to Clements here. Following him will be singer/songwriter and ginger beardy man Ciaran Lavery, who has received funding from PRS for Music Foundation to write and record his second album. The afternoon will conclude with a kick in the arse, scuzzy post-punk from Belfast’s Girls Names, who we’ve been following for a while since their appearance at SXSW 2012.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa1TshNz8YA[/youtube]

Shortly after Thursday afternoon’s programming ends, the British Music Embassy will be back open for Thursday evening’s full showcase from PIAS in association with AIM. Things begin on a raucous note with Manchester girl group PINS (read our past coverage on them here), the Bella Union-signed act who made the rounds of festivals big and small in 2015. Back to London but nowhere near anything expected from the capital is singer/songwriter Cosmo Sheldrake, who likes filming live performances in the weirdest places, like a Hungarian public bath and a launderette. Also unexpected is the inclusion of a Swedish band based in London like FEWS. Stereogum describes their sound on their track ‘The Zoo’ as ‘malevolent post-punk’, and we agree.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsHNH4cVdyE[/youtube]

The second half of Thursday’s lineup goes in a different direction, and you can ‘Indulge’ in soulful pop singer Jones. More non-Brit interlopers appear later in the evening: SPOOKYLAND from Sydney will bring their introspective shoegaze late night to the venue. And be sure to hang around until the end, so you won’t miss Liverpool’s young lo-fi rockers Hooton Tennis Club (read our past coverage on them here). The band released their debut album ‘Highest Point in Cliff Town’ last summer on Heavenly Recordings and will be looking to gain an American fanbase.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmbWVT-Ax1g[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2015: Blackjack London and Association of Independent Music showcase at Latitude 30 (Friday night part 2) – 20th March 2015

 
By on Wednesday, 1st April 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

The first half of my Friday evening at SXSW 2015 is here.

That somewhere else was back at Latitude 30 for the British Music Embassy’s Friday night sponsored by Blackjack London and the Association of Independent Music (AIM). I arrived just in time to see the second half of Only Real‘s set, which was clearly already causing havoc. Good havoc, I’m quick to point out. It was still raining outside, but as soon as I’d put down my brolly to take my camera out, an Only Real reveler grabbed it and was sashaying down the front like out of a scene from Singing in the Rain, before he grabbed my hand, twirling me around a couple times. I burst out laughing. This turned out to be one of the most surprisingly fun sets I watched all week. Listen to ‘Yesterdays’ off his new debut album ‘Jerk at the End of the Line’ released this week, and just go with it. You’ll thank me later.

Only Real at Blackjack London AIM showcase at SXSW 2015

After the set, I asked one of the photographers, “is everyone in here drunk or stoned?” She said quite possibly both. Either way, it doesn’t matter: what came across was how well Niall Galvin’s unique hybrid of hip hop style lyrics about more carefree days and the washy, psychedelic guitars and accompanying instrumentation was going over with the Embassy crowd. I had been extremely sceptical when Martin first wrote about him in 2013, figuring this guy from South London couldn’t be really this weird and this happy-go-lucky. It must be an act…

Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. After he kindly paused for photos and chats with a whole slew of new fans he gained this night, I chatted with him briefly to set up a full interview on Saturday afternoon, and he is just about one of the loveliest musicians I’ve ever met: genuine, kind-hearted, positive and yes, real. We need more positive people like him not just in this business, but the whole world. Keep doing what you do, man.

East London grime artist Ghetts had to sadly cancel his appearance on this night, replaced by Stockport’s Blossoms, who played here Wednesday night as part of the BBC Introducing / PRS Foundation showcase. They explained to me after that they’d be asked to stand in for Ghetts and were more than happy to get another SXSW gig under their belts. Watching the young band from greater Manchester a second time was nice, as I got to introduce their music as brand new to a girl who became a new fan. Always happy to facilitate!

Blossoms at Blackjack London AIM showcase at SXSW 2015

As the notes of the scorching ‘Blow’, the band’s first-ever single that was released in 2014, fed into my mind a second time, I sensed something very special. Whiffs of brilliance reminiscent of great ’60s psychedelic bands, along with the pop sensibility of their local legends Oasis in the choruses, are what make this band great. If they can keep this level of melody and songwriting up, their debut album is sure to be a hit.

Following Blossoms were Boxed In, an electro rock/pop band led by keyboardist / synth-playing Oli Bayston. I missed seeing him open for fellow Moshi Moshi labelmates Teleman on their UK tour in October. As his set unfolded, I was getting a distinct, eerie feeling of deja vu, like I’d known this music in another life. But I’d never seen them play before. How could this be possible? Hmm…

Boxed In at Blackjack London AIM showcase at SXSW 2015

When they trotted out ‘Mystery’, everything clicked and I had a eureka moment: the single has been played on 6music a lot as of late, so I knew all the words. Since I was a singer in my former life, I have the tendency to sing along – loudly – when I know the lyrics to a song, and when Bayston noticed this, he broke out a wide grin. I imagine he was thinking, “wow, an American knows my music!” The dancey vibe afforded by Only Real continued on into the Boxed In set, with Bayston’s band soundtracking an all out dance party to usher in the small hours of Saturday morning in Austin in British disco style with the driving rhythms of tracks like ‘Foot of the Hill’.

The electronic aspect of Boxed In served as a nice segue into the more intellectual style of electronic musician/producer Rival Consoles, who I’d seen play in the much smaller Plush Thursday night. The most intriguing difference in Ryan L. West’s show Friday night at Latitude 30 compared to the one at Plush: the backdrop was a dynamically generated visual show determined entirely by the user he set the task to, West explained to me in our chat Saturday. That means every single night, you’re going to get a completely different visual experience. How’s that for unexpected art?

Rival Consoles at Blackjack London AIM showcase at SXSW 2015

There is probably no greatest place for a British musical artist to play at during SXSW than Latitude 30, and West was completely caught up in the moment as he crafted his music for the evening. That’s one thing about electronic music I love: it can, conceivably, go on forever, morphing and evolving, with different pieces of equipment being called in play or put aside, depending the maker’s mood. With a stagehand telling West he only had a minute left to play, he ended his set on a buzzy high note.

 
 
 

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