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SXSW 2015: Thursday afternoon at the BBC barbecue, British Music at SXSW showcase and the historic Driskill Hotel – 19th March 2015

 
By on Tuesday, 7th April 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

After the delightful Lost in Austin brunch on Thursday morning, I made my way back across the Colorado River and into downtown Austin. I had just enough time to grab a cup of coffee and jot down my thoughts before I received a text message from editor Mary, who wanted me to stop in and join her at the Old School Bar and Grill for the BBC barbecue. Mary has already covered the event in full, but I was lucky enough during my brief stop to catch a set by Laura Marling, including songs from her newest album release ‘Short Movie’, which TGTF previewed back in December.

While Marling did her preliminary soundcheck on the Old School Bar and Grill stage, I took the opportunity to scout out the room for good photo angles. I was testing the settings on my camera when another photographer made a comment to me about how beautiful Marling’s guitar collection was. I agreed, and thus found myself in an informative conversation with SXSW 2015 staff photographer Ziv Kruger about shooting effective photos at SXSW shows. Kruger took a quick look at my camera and gave me a few useful tips, which I immediately put to use in photographing Marling and her band. (If you’re interested in seeing more of my photos of the set, check them out on my Flickr.)

Laura Marling at BBC BBQ 19 March 2015

Laura Marling at BBC BBQ 19 March 2015

After Marling played, the BBC barbecue started to wind down, and I headed over to the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 to catch The Twilight Sad, with whom I’d had a nice chat earlier in the week. I arrived at Latitude 30 in time to hear the end of a set by fellow Scottish band Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire, whose six-piece band set up was a tight fit for the British Music Embassy stage.

Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire 19 March 2015

Despite the close quarters, Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire impressed me with the size of their anthemic rock melodies, and I made a mental note to listen to them again after returning home from my trip to Austin. Their single ‘Bright Light Fever’ earned the band a week-long residency on Craig Ferguson’s Late Late Show in America early last year, and it was a hit at the British Music Embassy in Austin as well.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/nOGtfQEo_d0[/youtube]

The Twilight Sad were the final act on the afternoon’s British Music at SXSW showcase, and as frontman James Graham had promised in our earlier interview, their set was heavy on tracks from the band’s latest LP ‘Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave’. They opened with two tracks featured previously here on TGTF, ‘There’s a Girl in the Corner’ and ‘Last January’ before touching on ‘I Became a Prostitute’ from 2009 album ‘Forget the Night Ahead’ and closing their set with the epic sound of ‘And She Would Darken the Memory’ from their 2007 debut ‘Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters’. Though their set here was effective, it did feel quite short and left me wishing for more. Fans of The Twilight Sad will no doubt relish the opportunity to hear longer and more expansive set lists on the band’s upcoming UK tour; find those live dates here.

The Twilight Sad at British Music Embassy 19 March 2015

The British Music Embassy cleared out after The Twilight Sad finished playing, and I had enough time between engagements to meet Mary for a quick dinner before I headed to the historic Driskill Hotel to see singer/songwriter Josh Savage. Mary had recommended Savage to me after seeing him herself at a Sofar Sounds show in Manchester last year, and I’d had his latest EP ‘Spaces’ on repeat in my car during the long road trip to Austin, so I was especially excited to see his only official SXSW showcase on this night.

Josh Savage at the Driskill Hotel 19 March 2015

The Victorian Room at the Driskill was a perfect venue to showcase Savage’s elegant and refined songwriting. While the space might have been intended for standing room only, we in the audience chose to seat ourselves either in the few available chairs or on the floor in front of the stage. The room was very comfortable with good viewpoints all around, and Savage took advantage of the intimate space by telling a few sentimental stories to go along with his tunes and even stepping down off the stage to be closer to his audience.

He further drew us under his spell by asking for our harmonic participation in the chorus of his enchanting ballad ‘Lost in Paris’, and by the end of the set I found myself completely smitten by his graceful songcraft. I was able to sit down with Savage for a brief interview outside the Victorian Room after his show; you can listen to his soft-spoken commentary right here.

Josh Savage at Driskill Hotel 19 March 2015

I had to cut my conversation with Savage shorter than I would have liked so that I could rush back to Latitude 30 to follow up on Dry the River, with whom I had become become acquainted earlier in the week. Stay tuned to TGTF for more coverage of my Thursday night adventures, including Dry the River’s showcase at the British Music Embassy.

 

SXSW 2015: BBC barbecue with friends, with no fear of missing out – 19th March 2015

 
By on Monday, 30th March 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

One thing everyone learns at SXSW – and hopefully sooner than later – is to not sweat it when plan A doesn’t work out and you have to go to plan B, or even plan C or D. It is an inevitable fact of a city festival and the size of their smaller hole in the wall type venues (whether you’re in Austin or Brighton for the Great Escape) that if where you want to go is one of the hottest tickets in town, you’ll likely be disappointed. But during SXSW, there is always tonnes more things to do and bands to see, and the beauty of such a large event is that you might just happen upon something brilliant you’d otherwise never have crossed your mind.

The announcement that Danish band Mew were going to play only three shows in Austin seemed to be broadcast on all the music Web sites and blogs ahead of SXSW 2015, and I can’t say that I really was bothered about seeing them. However, as a music editor, it’s sometimes your duty to seek out what the people want to read about, so I had them scribbled down on my Thursday afternoon schedule as part of the Under the Radar magazine showcase at Flamingo Cantina. Wednesday afternoon I chatted with Will Doyle (East India Youth) about the Under the Radar show, as he was playing directly before Mew and headliner Of Montreal; he was quite pleased to be playing the showcase, as it meant he had an automatic in to the event. Curious, we looked up the capacity of the place on my phone, staring at the number with a mixture of marvel and horror: 299. Eep.

Considering how massively hyped the elusive Mew had been even before anyone made it out to Austin, I figured I’d probably be queueing outside all afternoon with no joy, so I decided to give it a pass. Later that night, I ran into a close Glaswegian industry friend (a much bigger, taller person who can hold his own more than I can, I might add) who said he’d made it into the showcase but stayed only for 5 minutes because there were too many people inside the club and he had struggled to breathe. I understand event organisers want to hype things up and purposely cause queues to form via FOMO, but it sounds like this particular event may have been violating safety codes, and I count my lucky stars I didn’t even try to get into it. Our friend Larry Heath, Editor-in-Chief of The AU Review, got into Mew’s third show on Saturday afternoon as part of the Brooklyn Vegan day party, and you can read his thoughts on them here.

But no tears were shed by this editor. I’d been blessed with an invite to the BBC barbecue that afternoon at Old School Bar and Grill, which had some lovely surprise live and acoustic special guests. Due to a mishap with the #17 bus, I arrived too late to catch first act James Vincent McMorrow, who appeared Wednesday night at the Music from Ireland showcase at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room (I reviewed that showcase here). Apparently Catfish and the Bottlemen were also due to appear on the afternoon’s bill, but they were nowhere to be seen. Another surprise for me was the sense James ‘Chaos and the Calm’ Bay was following me around, as the man and his now famous hat were seen going back and forth across the floor. I think he liked the food?

Frank Turner at BBC Barbecue, SXSW 2015

Between dining on the complimentary barbecue from venerated Texas meat institution the Salt Lick (which was delicious, thank you BBC and Salt Lick!), I watched amazing sets from now hugely popular singer/songwriter Frank Turner and the soft-spoken young Derry talent SOAK (Bridie Monds-Watson). Turner, who was bouncing from venue to venue all week and seemed to be in his element in this town, explained he was road-testing new material at SXSW and was playing different sets at every show in Austin; I’m sure this revelation delighted fans I met who were following him around all week. From the new song that he introduced with “this is about losing at tennis…again” (‘Love Forty Down’) to his raucous, yet loving tribute to his nan (‘Peggy Sang the Blues’), Turner proved why he’s become such a popular live draw both here in America and in Europe. Carrie interviewed Frank Friday morning in Austin, and her interview will be posted soon here on TGTF.

SOAK, the surprise guest at Monday night’s Creative Belfast showcase at Latitude 30, also captivated punters this afternoon with her gentle yet emotional voice, framed by her acoustic guitar playing. You wouldn’t expect something as placid coming from someone dressed like a skater, but somehow…it works. She now has a deal with Rough Trade, so I know Beggars will certainly help spread her music far and wide.

SOAK at BBC Barbecue, SXSW 2015

I met the lovely Bridie briefly late one night at the British Music Embassy, just as she was thanking Steve Lamacq for all his and BBC Introducing’s support. It was a sweet yet important reminder of how vital these mutualistic relationships and respect are key to our promoting deserving young artists and giving them the help and attention they deserve. Later on, I also helped facilitate the recording of a live BBC 6music session by my friends the Lost Brothers, who appeared on Steve’s radio programme. I take great personal pride in my part of the process, and I think everyone who is anyone in the industry who comes out to a massive event like this at SXSW with the purpose to help support bands should pat themselves on the back!

 
 
 

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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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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