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SXSW 2018: Hamburg x Berlin Music and Interactive Night and DIY Presents at the British Music Embassy – 12th March 2018

 
By on Wednesday, 21st March 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

It’s important to note that now that SXSW Conference badgeholders for the Film and Interactive conferences have secondary access to all Music showcases for a second year, they’re staying longer in Austin to make their time in town more worthwhile by checking out events from the other two festivals. This phenomenon, of course, impacts capacity at the music festival venues, making things more difficult for the wristband holders and anyone wishing to pay a cover to get into a venue. Carrie can speak to her opinion on this in her posts but for me, in general, the secondary access hasn’t affected me that badly, because the acts I tend to see are indie artists who aren’t on Americans’ radars yet. There is nothing better than seeing an act playing an entirely relaxed show to a handful of people, knowing they’re heading for greatness and you saw them first.

I’m noting it in this piece because as in past years, Monday night at SXSW 2018 was another relatively slow night showcase-wise. As a result, long lines seemed to be everywhere. I had great plans to stop into a few different showcases. Instead, I had to pare by my expectations, but I had some unexpected finds that made my evening pretty special. DIY Presents returned for a second year, this time bringing two bands who had appeared at Latitude 30 and four making their first visit to the venue, two of those that I saw.

Breakfast Muff Monday at SXSW 2018 2

The evening there began with Scottish punks Breakfast Muff. Taking a quick look at the set list, I noted they had an awfully long list of songs. Then I considered for a band like theirs, their tunes were likely to be 2 minutes or less. I wasn’t wrong. They made quick work of the first 1/3 of their set, blasting out song after song with impressive ferocity. While virtually unknown prior to their coming out for SXSW, I’d expect the young band’s star to rise significantly upon the release of their next EP ‘Crocodile’ on the 6th of April.

World Brain Monday at SXSW 2018 2

Once I’d had enough of Breakfast Muff, I headed to Barracuda, which has hosted the always reliable Monday night showcase starring German artists. On the indoor stage, World Brain opened the Hamburg X Berlin Music and Interactive Night on a wigged out, humorous note. World Brain is the solo project of long-haired, bespectacled Berlin-based Frenchman Lucas Ufo, who is also a member of Berlin group Fenster. The solo artist performed his brand of off-kilter, oddly catchy, bluesy alt-rock with a photograph of puppies sat in front of his laptop. To get a flavour of his music, watch this performance from Cologne last November. It doesn’t entirely do his music justice, though: he broke out a clarinet for one of the songs this night, an unexpected surprise.

Just steps away, playing at the Barracuda backyard patio was Emma Elisabeth, a Berlin-based Swedish singer/songwriter, and her band. Her style is jangly guitar pop, drawing obvious comparisons to ‘80s band The Bangles and acts similar. While her sound isn’t earth-shattering, she has an enjoyable enough voice that I could see her music being picked up for use in syncs.

Emma Elisabeth Monday at SXSW 2018

Back over to the indoor stage, it was Fenster’s turn. Named after the German word for “window”, they are an experimental pop band who’ve been going for a good decade now and have appeared at SXSW before. With their unusual song structures and instruments beyond the usual suspects in rock bands, they provided the ears with something wonderfully different.

Catholic Action Monday at SXSW 2018

I returned to Latitude 30, encountering my first major queue at SXSW 2018. It’s with some irony that I couldn’t get in for Catholic Action, one of the four acts I wrote about in the Music Bloggers Guide to SXSW 2018. Even in a queue outside, once security decided to crack open the windows facing San Jacinto Boulevard, I could groove to their glam rock tunes. I finally made it in for the Glaswegians’ last few tunes. They ended their set with their clap-happy single ‘L.U.V’, which met with big cheers from the crowd.

Francobollo Monday at SXSW 2018 2

London-based Swedes Francobollo were up next. They sound more like an American band than a European one, their music focusses on big guitar chords and harmonies. The booming nature of their grunge-y sound made them a good act to follow Catholic Action. We had an early morning on Tuesday, so I bid my first adieu to Latitude 30 for 2018. To see more photos from my Monday night at SXSW 2018, come through.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018: best bets among UK rock artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Wednesday, 7th March 2018 at 11:00 am
 

This year, only Carrie and I have been available to write content for the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018. Being short-handed, we decided to consider trends in who was being invited from the UK and let what we found direct our previews on the artists coming over from the UK to Austin.

One thing we found unusual about this year’s shouts is that quite a few bands and artists we’ve previewed and indeed, some who actually saw in Austin at a recent SXSW, have been invited back. DIY punks LIFE (Hull), Shame (London) and IDLES (Bristol) will be laying waste at their appearances at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 on Monday night, Thursday afternoon, and Thursday afternoon and night, respectively. Could it be that SXSW and the BME are banking on a repeat on their breathless, exciting, uncontainable performances last year? Could be.

Also coming round for a victory lap in Texas will be Glasgow glam band Catholic Action, who have been riding high on the critical acclaim of their autumn 2017 debut album ‘In Memory Of’. [NB: I wrote about them and 3 other acts in the Music Bloggers Guide to SXSW 2018, which you can read here.] Female-fronted trio Doe, who also wowed crowds last year at the DIY showcase on the first night of festivities at the BME, will be making a return appearance, this time gracing the stage of Latitude 30 Wednesday afternoon. Longtime indie stalwarts The Wedding Present, helmed by David Gedge, will also be coming back to Austin, having in previous editions of SXSW. Whether they’ll make another surprise appearance in a bike shop, we’ll have to see.

This is not to say that the UK isn’t sending a whole raft of new and great rock talent to entertain us next week. On the DIY punk front, Glasgow’s Breakfast Muff and Tijuana Bibles, along with London’s Goat Girl, will give you something to shout about and raise your fists to. If you prefer your rock more pop-orientated, SXSW also has you covered. Flyte, who we’ve covered for a few years here on TGTF, will be making their first appearance in Austin with their summer 2017 Island Records debut ‘The Loved Ones’ under their belt. Brighton furnishes SXSW with two exciting rock acts, The RPMs (pictured at top), who will open the Friday afternoon festivities at the BME, and the female-fronted Yonaka. You can read my SXSW 2018 preview of The RPMs through here.

Sometimes your name can make you infamous and as someone once said, any publicity is good publicity, right? London hard rockers Steak were named by local Austin culture blog do512 as having one of the best names of artists showcasing at this year’s event. Admittedly, we may have unfairly maligned some of the less Googleable band names in the past: Cabbage, College, Merchandise and Shopping, anyone? But if you’re going to bring a rock band to Texas of all places, you can’t go wrong with naming yourself after a great cut of beef. Another London band named in do512’s piece were Our Girl, the London trio fronted by Soph Nathan who were discovered, shall we say, after supporting SXSW 2015 alums Honeyblood.

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2018 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook or official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

 

SXSW 2017: A relaxing Saturday afternoon at El Sapo with Music for Listeners – 18th March 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

The Saturday afternoon of SXSW 2017 was brimming with sunshine and cool breeze, a perfect cocktail for outdoor activity. I took the opportunity to break away from the buzz of downtown Austin and head to local favourite burger joint El Sapo for the final day of the Music for Listeners showcases, hosted by our friends Michael Thomas and Orlando Torres. As usual, they had a great list of artists scheduled to play, including bands from the UK and around the world.

"SWIM

The first act on Saturday’s lineup was also the first ever Greek band to play on the Music for Listeners showcase, electronic trio Someone Who Isn’t Me. This all-female trio caught my attention instantly with their sleek combination of vocals, synths, and guitar sounds, melded into a fascinating art-pop aesthetic. I caught the three band members, Marilena Orfanou, Maria Hatzakou and Gina Dimakopoulou, after their set for a quick interview, where I learned more about the band’s unique origins and their post-SXSW plans.

"JOB

Northern Irish alt-rocker Jealous of the Birds played a spirited full band set at El Sapo on the Saturday, including popular songs from her debut album ‘Palma Violets’ as well as a nifty cover of Foster the People’s 2011 megahit ‘Pumped Up Kicks’. TGTF covered Jealous of the Birds briefly at SXSW 2016 and more extensively at SXSW 2017; you can read all our past writing on her right back here.

"Be

I didn’t know what to expect from Scottish alt-pop trio Be Charlotte, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard on Saturday afternoon. Their teenaged frontwoman Charlotte Brimner might look cutesy on first glance, but her soft vocals are cut with hard-edged synth arrangements and precise dance rhythms. Amazingly, despite her relative youth, this wasn’t Brimner’s first time at SXSW; she took part in an Interactive panel session called ‘Making Music Physical Again’ back in 2015. Be Charlotte’s intensely groovy human analogy ’Machines that Breathe’ was a highlight of the afternoon.

"COF

Welsh band Chain of Flowers took a bit of a moody turn as we moved into late afternoon, but perhaps that’s to be expected from a band who shares its name with a song by The Cure. The similarity doesn’t end with the moniker, though Chain of Flowers have a murkier, thicker-textured darkness to their sonic quality, and frontman Josh Smith’s vocals convey more raw torture than sullen detachment. The band played a mix of new songs and tracks from their 2015 self-titled debut album, and it seems apropros, given their massive and heavy sound, that one of their newer tracks is titled ‘The Wall’.

Mary had seen Chain of Flowers Thursday afternoon at the British Music Embassy as part of a rock showcase there, but they were new to me, so I stopped their guitarist, Ross Jones, for a quick chat after the set. He told me that the band are currently promoting the re-pressed version of their debut album, after a less-than-satisfactory record label experience with its original release. However, he emphasised that they do have new material ready and waiting, with a potential single release this spring and a full LP to follow. In the meantime, Chain of Flowers are scheduled to play a run of live dates in England starting next week. (You can find the details here.)

"Catholic

While I was talking with Jones, the growing crowd at El Sapo congregated in front of the stage area for Scottish rock band Catholic Action. Formed as a spin-off of sorts from SXSW 2014 showcasing band Casual Sex, Catholic Action have quickly come into their own with singles ‘L.U.V.’ and ‘Rita Ora’. Their pop-tinged brand of rock was much more immediately accessible than Chain of Flowers’ wall of sound, and they quickly had punters’ feet tapping and heads bopping along to songs like their latest single ‘Doing Well’. Mary caught the group twice Friday night, first at the Glasgow Buckaroo at the Mohawk, then at the British Music Embassy at the BBC Introducing showcase.

"Juanita

The afternoon was slowly fading into evening by this point, and I decided to stay at El Sapo to see one final artist, Australian singer/songwriter Juanita Stein. Stein is already well known as the lead singer for London-based indie rock band Howling Bells, and she did play one song from that part of her repertoire, along with covers from Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison that give some indication of her solo style. Indeed, her recent single ‘Shimmering’ has more than a hint of Orbison’s dark bluesy-rock vibe, though she didn’t play enough of her solo tracks for me to get a good idea. Stein’s solo album ‘America’ is due out later this year, so if you’re curious, be on the lookout. Juanita Stein also performed as part of Sounds Australia’s Sound Gallery I Tuesday afternoon at B.D. Riley’s; read Mary’s review of her performance through here.

The stellar lineup of acts at the Music for Listeners day parties are always a treat, especially for those of us who love UK artists, and this year was no exception. Special thanks to Michael, Orlando and everyone at El Sapo. We hope to see you again next year!

 

SXSW 2017: visits to St. David’s, the Velveeta Room and the British Music Embassy (Friday, part 2) – 17th March 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 4th April 2017 at 3:00 pm
 

I want to add another rule to those I presented yesterday as part of how I saw five bands in 1 hour on my Thursday night at SXSW 2017. Rule #5: take advantage of secondary or even tertiary shows your favourite artist is playing. Knowledge is power, and any research you do into additional shows an artist is playing will help you make the most of your time in Austin. Research is not just for the purpose of avoiding schedule clashes: smaller, less prominently advertised shows, especially those off the beaten path, are likely to give you the priceless opportunities to meet your heroes and/or to see them in more intimate settings. And if you’re anything like me (short and small) and have any level of claustrophobia, this is an unsaid key to keeping your sanity during SXSW.

For a long while, the only show Berlin-based Dane Agnes Obel had scheduled at SXSW was Thursday night at Clive Bar, in the Rainey Street area of the city. Unfortunately (for me anyway), closer to the time of SXSW, it was announced Clive Bar would become the Twin Peaks Showtime venue to celebrate the reboot of the cult tv show. Further, on Thursday night the showcase would host a very special appearance by none other than FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper himself, Kyle MacLachlan. Coupled with the announcement that ‘90s boy band Hanson would be appearing at Bungalow around the corner, it didn’t make sense walking all that way and to queue up only to be disappointed.

Thankfully, Obel announced a second show at the main room at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary as part of the Communion Presents showcase, which afforded her fans like me to have a better chance of seeing her and to be able to sit down while doing so. Many did, filling the venue easily and well before she even took the stage. SXSW was just one stop in her North American tour that had already passed through the East Coast the week before. I’m still unclear why venues seem to think throwing red light on their performers is a good idea. The celebrated Obel and her truly international, all female backing band were under a sea of crimson for her entire set, so I took a rare break at shooting bands at St. David’s.

Released in autumn 2016, her third and latest album ‘Citizen of Glass’ demonstrates the imaginative Dane’s commitment to defying convention in an industry where fitting in is de rigueur. With a flurry of instruments both conventional (piano, guitar, drums) and unusual (cello, celesta, mandolin) the unique performance was beautiful, especially in the confines of such a hallowed space. ‘Stretch Your Eyes’, which I reviewed ahead of SXSW, was a masterpiece live, exceeding all my expectations.

While there are two queues for the two stages at St. David’s, the main room and Bethell Hall, I can think of only one time I’ve been in Bethell Hall in the last 6 years where the place has been packed and they weren’t letting anyone in. In that respect, it’s a placid, infrequently visited SXSW venue hidden in plain sight. Good news for me, as I was wanting to catch up on the new material from an artist who had wowed me in DC a few years ago. Stepping out of Agnes Obel’s show a little early, I was able to catch the tail-end of another set here.

Bethell Hall is less pretentious than its name suggests. It has a recreation / social room-type vibe, and therefore it has more of an everyman flavour. While it’s not like I didn’t enjoy his set at B.D. Riley’s Thursday morning at the Full Irish Breakfast, there’s something very special about seeing Ciaran Lavery performing in such of a room. Think about where many legendary singers of popular music honed their craft: that’s right, with their families and in the church.

Ciaran Lavery, St. David's Historic Sanctuary, Bethell Hall, Friday 17 March 2017

With the acoustics of the bare walls of Bethell Hall bouncing back Lavery’s gritty yet gorgeous vocals and acoustic guitar chords to us, you couldn’t have asked for a better venue to see the Northern Irishman. Deadpanning that he would warn us next time if he was to perform another set of “overly positive songs”, he had the audience not only in rapt attention but also chuckling at his dry Irish wit. Ending with an incomprehensibly rich sounding a capella version of Tom Waits’ ‘If I Have to Go’, it’s not an understatement to say Ciaran Lavery slayed the audience at Bethell Hall.

Ciaran Lavery, St. David's Historic Sanctuary, Bethell Hall, Friday 17 March 2017, 2

It fell to Oxfordshire’s Lewis Watson to follow such a great performance. The contrast was unfortunately stark, as even though I don’t think the two artists differ that much in age, lack of festival experience (or perhaps lack of practice in recent months) showed in Watson’s comparatively lacklustre set. While I am very familiar with and loved Watson’s 2014 breakthrough LP ‘the morning’, I haven’t yet had a chance to listen to his latest album released the week after SXSW, ‘midnight’. Based on his performance in Austin, I’m not sure I want to. Maybe his latest breakup knocked him harder than he’s willing to admit? The one bright spot of new material was the wispy ‘Hello Hello’, in which he asked the audience to join in.

Lewis Watson, St. David's Historic Sanctuary, Bethell Hall, Friday 17 March 2017

Watson’s nervously chuckled assurances that the new songs sounds better with his full backing band and his asking us to imagine one song or another with a thumping drum beat implies, whether he meant it or not, that these new songs cannot stand on their own in their original form in which they were written. Further, while I completely understand the prohibitive travel and visa costs involved in bringing a full band over from England to America, one wonders why Watson appeared at SXSW solo at all, when a North American tour with his band was already in the works for later in the spring. It’s also hard to overlook that he broke not one, but two strings in the middle of his set. Chalk it all up to nerves or unpreparedness, but I was sorely disappointed.

After a quick brisket and coleslaw break and a gawk at and a farewell wave to the hordes already queued up to see Rag’n’Bone Man’s show in St. David’s main room at 1 AM, I headed back down to 6th Street. It was St. Patrick’s Day, so a visit to The Velveeta Room’s Music from Ireland showcase was definitely in order. (Sadly, there was not even time for a Guinness!) I had been interviewing Hull punks LIFE at the British Music Embassy while Carrie caught the Academic at the Full Irish Breakfast Thursday afternoon. It was now my turn to catch part of a set by the band I’d been wanting to see live for a long time.

The Academic, Music from Ireland showcase, The Velveeta Room, Friday 17 March 2017

Having seen the Music from Ireland showcase at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room for so many years, I have to say the Velveeta Room feels like a much better venue for the bands. It also oddly reminds me of The Tivoli where MFI’s Canadian Music Week showcase was in 2016, so it has that going for it. The Academic from Mullingar were worth the wait. Full of the fun and vigour that made me fall in love with Two Door Cinema Club back in 2009, they brought an intensity and energy to the venue that only youth can. Singer/guitarist Craig Fitzgerald is an effective frontman, leading his band into every dynamic number, from single ‘Mixtape 2003’ that we reviewed last summer to their 2015 EP standout ‘Different’. Check out my very funny interview with the whole band that we did after their set through here.

I then returned to the British Music Embassy for the BBC Introducing / PRS for Music showcase to witness Glasgow pop rockers Catholic Action have Latitude 30’s punters in the palm of their hand. They proved that being given a much bigger room that earlier at the Mohawk was no problem at all. (Stay tuned for Carrie’s report of their performance Saturday afternoon at El Sapo, which was additional evidence that outdoor Mexican-themed venues are no match for them either.) Following the Scots was another band I’d been recommended to see, though to be honest, I was expecting it to be full of shenanigans. I wasn’t wrong, and it seemed everyone who was there that Friday night to see them couldn’t talk about anyone or anything else the last day of SXSW.

Bristol punks IDLES (yes, all caps again) are probably best known to 6 Music listeners for their track ‘WELL DONE’, which hilariously name-checks not only Steve Lamacq but also ex-Great British Bakeoff octagenarian Mary Berry having a job and enjoying reggae. People are angry with what’s going on in Britain and in a similar vein to what LIFE are doing in East Yorkshire, IDLES are the South West equivalent in providing the opening of a pressure valve. In Red Hot Chili Peppers-style, guitarist Mark Bowen seems to enjoy performing in nothing but his underpants, which if you’re a photographer is not for the faint of heart.

IDLES, British Music Embassy, BBC Introducing / PRS for Music showcase, Latitude 30, Friday 17 March 2017

I get that it’s part of their anarchic style that continues into their debut album ‘BRUTALISM’ out now, but it’s distracting (I think negatively) from the messages Joe Talbot wants to send in his lyrics. Their live performance is everything you would expect: a ruckus onstage, leading to equally crazy scenes down on the floor. IDLES did everything they set out to do: create havoc.

 

SXSW 2017: Get Buzzzed at the Brew Exchange and pop-ins at Output Belfast, the Glasgow Buckaroo and Sunday Best showcases (Friday, part 1) – 17th March 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 4th April 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Getting away from the general hive of activity in Austin, at least once, is a good thing. Our friends at Music for Listeners put on several days of free afternoon shows out at El Sapo. West of Congress Avenue, there’s Waterloo Records and Whole Foods and their free shows. There’s also a whole host of bars that turn into venues while a whole bunch of people who are in town for SXSW remain oblivious to them. I’d never been to The Brew Exchange, but I took the opportunity to check it and the Get Buzzzed showcase sponsored by a few different music companies early Friday afternoon. While I was out there, Carrie held down the fort at the BMI brunch at The Four Seasons.

Mt. Wolf, Get Buzzzed showcase, The Brew Exchange, Friday 17 March 2017

Remember what I said about maximising your number of acts seen by visiting venues that have two stages? The Brew Exchange has two and with staggered set times, you could enjoy the music while also enjoying one of the many beers on tap, because what else would a place with a name like The Brew Exchange offer up in libations? Atmospheric electronic pop group Mt. Wolf played first on the stage actually inside the venue. (I also saw them Tuesday night at ScratcHouse at the Killing Moon / ReverbNation showcase there, as well as Thursday at the British Music Embassy.) Electro soul pop duo Aquilo followed them, playing with their backs to the open windows at the front of the place. Following two great but all too brief performances, Tom Higman and Ben Fletcher of Aquilo and I took a walk around the corner to do this interview.

Aquilo, Get Buzzzed showcase, The Brew Exchange, Friday 17 March 2017

Something I revel in when I’m at a music festival is talking to fellow music fans. On my walk back to the British Music Embassy, I met an Austinite who was a fellow hat wearer on this windy day, and we struck up a conversation. We had a mutual love for dance and electronic music, so I knew I had someone to show him back at Latitude 30. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but my new acquaintance was best buds with the bouncer there, ha!

Ryan Vail, Output Belfast showcase British Music Embassy, Latitue 30, Friday 17 March 2017, 2

I had been rushing back to catch Derry electronic musician and producer Ryan Vail, who had first performed in Austin that week on the Generator NI and Belfast City Council-sponsored riverboat cruise that Carrie covered for us. I was eager to check out his live show. Our Adam had spoken highly not only of Vail’s music, having seeing him at an Output Belfast showcase in February, but also of the visuals by Plume Studios that were projected behind him as he performed. The combination of music and projection reminded me of Rival Consoles’ (Ryan L. West) performance on the same stage 2 years prior and also at The Great Escape 2015, both which I highly enjoyed. I was pleased to learn from Vail himself after his set that he not only knew of Rival Consoles but that they were fans of each other’s music. Hey Ryans, you gotta tour together. DO IT!

Ryan Vail, Output Belfast showcase British Music Embassy, Latitue 30, Friday 17 March 2017, 2

Vail is a unique electronic artist, in that he is equally comfortable with emotional, starker pieces, where the focus is on the piano, as he is with the comparatively more forward-thinking, ambient soundscapes within which he calls on his various effects and sequencers to help him build the experience. He is also not too shy to sing, which not all electronic musicians are eager to do, but I don’t think many of them fully understand this adds an important human touch that non-electro heads appreciate. I am always on the hunt for an engaging beat and an electronic tune that draws me in, and Ryan Vail’s music succeeds on both counts. Two thumbs way up.

I’m going to fast forward past my second time seeing / dragging Carrie to witness Welsh group The Sandinistas’s set at Valhalla and sitting in on Simon Raymonde’s talk with Eric Pulido of Midlake and BNQT fame and actor and music lover Jason Lee at the convention. It’s now night, and I’m queuing outside the Mohawk, a place I have to admit I’ve avoided since the tragic car crash in front of it during SXSW 2014. I was joined in the queue with a Japanese woman from a Kyoto blog who was very excited to see The Lemon Twigs. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the CD of Kyoto (Kyotan?) bands she gave me, but I hope to soon.

The Mohawk indoor stage was to be invaded by Scots via a showcase dubbed The Glasgow Buckaroo. It has been a few years since Scotland has had an entire showcase to themselves, so their return to Austin with the most bands from their region in recent memory was entirely welcome. Glaswegians Catholic Action, starring former Casual Sex drummer turned effective frontman Chris McCrory, would begin the festivities with their brand of fun, clap-happy pop/rock.

Catholic Action, The Glasgow Buckaroo, Mohawk indoor, Friday 17 March 2017

Is it wrong to compare them to the Beatles? The comparison seems inevitable tonight, as McCrory is sporting a floppy black hat that seems a purposeful nod to John Lennon. Will Catholic Action be the Next British Guitar Band, via Mud? The jury is still out on this but for sure, they had many a tail feather shaking at both the Mohawk and the British Music Embassy later that evening, as I can fully attest to.

Appropriately enough, the outdoor stage at Mohawk was revving up with another Scottish act. Young Sam Gellaitry began 4AD’s night there with his take on electronic dance, stood in front of his Macbook and equipment high above all of us. In this day and age, it’s unusual to describe the music from an electronic artist whose focus is on dance as “cinematic”, but I’d have to agree with Billboard here.

Sam Gellaitry, 4AD showcase, Mohawk outdoor, Friday 17 March 2017

Despite his young age, it’s obvious from listening to his tunes that the Stirling native has a lot of imagination and ideas, but he’s also honed his craft to be able to strike the balance between weird and wonderful and providing the masses something they’re going to embrace and dance to. I thought he was incredible. I was practically weeping that I had to leave his set early. Mark my words, one day I will interview him.

Speaking of weird, I was out of the Mohawk and down the street quickly to catch a bit of recent Sunday Best signing Laucan. Laurence Galpin performed as the first artist of the Rob Da Bank label’s showcase at Valhalla, where Carrie and I had been that afternoon. The alt-folk artist was joined by a cellist, as well as a backing track coming through the speakers of the venue that can only be described as vaguely terrifying. You don’t expect to hear other voices other than the performer on stage, so I was sufficiently weirded out by both that and the disorienting darkness of Valhalla. Galpin quipped that his intention for the set was for it to be truly an “immersive experience”, so he should consider his appearance there a success, even if it was a bit muted.

Laucan, Sunday Best Records showcase, Valhalla, Friday 17 March 2017

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: Scottish artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Thursday, 9th March 2017 at 11:00 am
 

In past years, we have gone through peaks and troughs with respect to the number of Scottish acts who come out to showcase at SXSW. I’m pleased to announce that as of the time of this posting, 13 acts are scheduled to appear at SXSW 2017, the largest number in recent memory. The summaries of acts below were written by Steven Loftin, except where noted. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Be Charlotte – pop / Dundee
What pop music sounds like when it comes from Dundee: that’s Be Charlotte. You find yourself drawn in by the obviously melodic, yet also cacophonous music, and you stay for the vocals that cut through and have an incredibly strong Scottish accent that for reason enthralls you. Or maybe that’s just me.

Catholic Action – pop / Glasgow
Catchy indie pop that has an alluring rawness, as if you’re listening to a band in a bedroom rather than a reasonably established DIY band. Their track ‘Rita Ora’ – yep, an ode to Rita Ora – is catchy, swift and poppy. What more could you want?

C. Macleod – singer/songwriter / Stornoway
If I had to fathom a guess, someone with name C. Macleod isn’t looking to make a big splash. Instead, this Stornoway native is all about careful, thoughtful songcraft. A driving, Springsteen-esque feel pervades his debut single ‘Dream’, feeling less loner and more expansive than you’d expect from a native of the Isle of Lewis. FFO: Bruce Springsteen, The National, The War on Drugs (Mary Chang)

Elle Exxe – pop / London via Edinburgh
Listed as ‘dirty pop’, that’s definitely the best way to describe Elle Exxe (pictured at top). There’s a distinct edge to her music that doesn’t fall in line with your ‘paint-by-numbers’ pop formula. An attitude that is where Charli XCX should’ve been heading toward, she’ll be a household name by 2018. We called it first. Check out Rebecca’s review of Elle’s debut album ‘Love Fuelled Hate’ from last autumn through here.

Happy Meals – synthpop / Glasgow
Lewis Cook and Suzanne Rodden comprise Happy Meals, a disco-leaning synthpop band based in Glasgow. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t disco in the style of Donna Summer or other tunes spun at Studio 54. Their minimalist yet space age-y style of dance, accompanied by Rodden’s vocals sometimes in English, sometimes French, adds to the eclectism. I will bet you that you will hear no-one else like Happy Meals in Austin in March. (Mary Chang)


PAWS – punk / Glasgow
Some more of that home bred punk rock. PAWS are another band who are going from strength to strength with a raw, melodic sound. SXSW should see them take Texas by storm, especially after the release of their third full length last year.

Pinact – punk / Glasgow
Back with even more punk for SXSW, Pinact are on the louder and harsher side of the spectrum. Pleasing but still with an edge that means your parents won’t like it, they’re another Scottish band who take the angst that is apparently rife there and execute it like all your favourites do.

The Pooches – pop / Glasgow
Glasgow’s Pooches create some beautiful guitar pop that never fails to leave you satisfied. Releasing their self-titled debut late last year, the band aren’t afraid of sticking out of the crowd with their wry yet upbeat pop sound.

Sam Gellaitry – electronic / Stirling
Already signed to XL Records, a powerhouse of a label in the indie world, Sam Gellaitry knows his way around a beat or two. He takes that urban London feeling, which you may or may not be familiar with, and crafts it into easy listening electronic tracks.

Spinning Coin – psych rock / Glasgow
You guessed it, another Glaswegian band. They do it well up in Scotland, birthing bands that craft sounds that somehow give none of the fucks while simultaneously giving them all. Keeping it DIY, they released their debut 7″ last year and have no intentions of stopping there. Not to mention their apparently visceral live show, what’s not to love?

The Spook School – pop / Edinburgh
The kind of band to not take themselves too seriously while ensuring they keep a solid message in their tunes (see: ‘Burn Masculinity’). With a sound that’s a mixture between indie and DIY punk, there’s no bells and whistles, which completely suits their styling down to the ground. [Having appeared at SXSW last year, we sincerely hope this time they bring suncream. -Ed.]

The Van T’s – surf rock / Glasgow
Cleverly made up of two twins, Charlotte and Hannah Van Thompson, along with Joanne Forbes and Shaun Hood, The Van T’s are a part of Glasgow’s burgeoning and bustling rock scene. Surf pop/rock ‘n’ roll might not be game changing but it sure is fun. [Sadly, we’ve received word that The Van T’s will not be showcasing in Austin this year. – Ed.]

 
 
 

About Us

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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