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SXSW 2017: Germans and Swedes at Swan Dive, and an Italian and Norwegians at the Sidewinder (Saturday night, part 1) – 18th March 2017

By on Wednesday, 5th April 2017 at 2:00 pm

Remember what I said in my Saturday afternoon review about relaxing and picking up bands you missed at SXSW? Sounds like conflicting advice. After you’ve done this festival for a few years, you actually get a weird sense of calm coming over you on the last night. You’ve got this, and you know you’re going to have an amazing time tonight. Your feelings are also tempered by the fact that tomorrow, you’re go home and back, begrudgingly, to Real Life. So you might as well make the most of it, yeah?

Before I went out to the Latitude 30 for the final time at SXSW 2017, I had a few more bands to experience. I had never spent much time in Swan Dive during past SXSWs, but I can say from this year’s times I really enjoyed both the indoor and patio venues. The staff there were always super nice and eager to get us scanned and into the venue as soon as possible. Was it because the venues are on the smaller side and they weren’t hosting the most hyped bands? Most probably.

Still, even though I might not have made this obvious in my mad dash through 70+ bands in my reviews, you can’t and shouldn’t discount the human element in making (or breaking) your time in Austin. While some of the volunteers at the convention center could have used a lot more training (there’s a problem when I know more about the building and what sessions are going on than you do), you must remember that we are guests in this city in the Lone Star State and for a week, they have been our gracious hosts. Every act of kindness, for every smile, for every attempt to keep us safe, all of it: we should be appreciative of everyone’s hard work, time and energy in pulling this thing off.

Gurr, Swan Dive, Saturday 18 March 2017

This is what I was thinking when I was watching Berlin girl band GURR (say it with me) play to a packed Swan Dive to start my evening. Happy, peppy pop with the occasional wail of garage rock. Are they sweet or a little bit devilish? That’s the kind of question no-one is going to think about too heavily Saturday at SXSW; all anyone cared about was dancing to the music. If you live in the UK, you’re in luck: they’re embarking on their first-ever headline tour of the Isles with Brighton’s Yonaka later this month through May. They’re also playing Live at Leeds and The Great Escape.

Simian Ghost, Swan Dive Patio, Saturday 18 March 2017

Around the corner and down an alley with no queue, and that was all it took for me to witness Swedish alt-poppers Simian Ghost at the Swan Dive Patio. Compared to the much newer acts getting their first close-up in Austin, they’re relative veterans in the music world, and this showed in singer Sebastian Arnström’s relaxed manner onstage, even giving me a thumbs up as I tried to photograph him. Their syncopated new single ‘Stop Moving’ (ironic, that) is out now on Heist or Hit, and it actually sounds brasher than I remembered them. They’ve always had a light touch with their music, keeping things dreamy, echoey. Is it wrong to say they sound so…Scandinavian? A fourth album is purported to be on the way, so we’ll have to see if they plan to diverge from the wistful sound of their past.

I ducked into the Sidewinder for the first time ever, and what a cute little place. I could see how this would totally be a cool place to see a band for the first time. Both stages here were showcases being put on by The Burning Ear, whose showcases I had partaked in past years in other venues. I had arrived a little too early for who I wanted to see on the outside stage, so I thought I’d hang around for a few minutes for the act who was performing inside. Here I am, trying to snap a photo of a slight girl with long hair from the side of the stage, and it turns out I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time.

GIUNGLA, Burning Ear showcase, Sidewinder inside, Saturday 18 March 2017

Without warning, GIUNGLA (aka one woman band Ema Drei from Bologna, Italy) leaps out into the crowd, and with her guitar no less. I don’t think the stage crew had any idea she would do this, as I’m the only person who can throw out her lead behind her so she can continue attacking her guitar in the middle of the room. This was the classic case of don’t judge a book by its cover. I’ve no idea how anyone could classify GIUNGLA as pop: she’s a riot grrrl and wants to wail on her guitar, and it just happens that she has a drum machine. According to The Line of Best Fit, she’s signed to London collective Some Kinda Love, so expect to hear more from her soon.

It can’t be too hard to imagine that any band out of Norway wishes to match the success of a-ha or better yet, surpass it. The last Norwegian band I thought who would go the distance, Casiokids, received a grant from those highly successful ‘Take on Me’ blokes; the last time I talked to them, they told me their collective had started to fall apart once band members were having kids. Enter Chain Wallet, the Scandinavian pop band of my dreams.

Chain Wallet, Burning Ear showcase, Sidewinder outside, Saturday 18 March 2017

Like Casiokids, they are from Bergen, the second largest city in Norway after Oslo. Yes, there are synths. Yes, there are washy guitars. And yes, Stian Iverson’s vocals perfectly match the dreamiest pop imaginable. Give in, because you’re going to get lost in these songs in the end. I recognised ‘Faded Fight’ from their set, which sounded incredible. Just 3 days after I saw them in this back garden in Austin, they were playing with Flyte at London Old Blue Last. Unbelievable. Just remember, you heard about them here first.


TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: best bets of Scandinavian artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

By on Tuesday, 28th February 2017 at 11:00 am

There’s an embarrassment of riches in the form of the Scandinavian artists scheduled to descend on SXSW 2017 next month. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland collectively will be sending over 30 acts to Austin, an amazing critical mass of acts for a combined population on the same order of the number of people in the state of Texas. Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised about the musicians from a region known for their long winters? You know what they say about Manchester and Seattle bands: when the weather outside is awful, more time indoors to perfect your art, am I right?

There are some established, or at least famous names that will be familiar to most readers. Prolific Danish singer/songwriter Agnes Obel, who now calls Berlin home, released her latest album ‘Citizen of Glass’ last autumn and will be making the trip to Austin. You can read my review of her latest single ‘Stretch Your Eyes’ here. No strangers to either controversy or media attention for their previous provocative moniker, Norwegian feminist-leaning pop punks Sløtface are sure to be another hot ticket during the week, having already laid waste to the UK on their own short headline tour earlier this month. Jakob Bjørn-Hansen, better known as Norwegian electronic artist and producer Bearson, has been poking around for a few years now with his own brand of tropical house, as well as his remix talents.

Shows by Swedish alt-pop band Simian Ghost, who already have three albums to their name and are working on their fourth, are sure to attract plenty of punters. The EP-only synthpop band Kite have enjoyed enormous success in their home country of Sweden and graced industrial nights around the world. Satellite Stories are the true epitome of the Nordic success story, as in Europe, they’re the best known indie band from Finland.

In today’s installment of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017, I introduce you to the acts I think are the best representatives of their part of the world. 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. As of today’s writing, we know of Music Norway’s plans to put on a Sounds from Norway showcase on Thursday 16 March at Lucille on Rainey Street, if that floats your boat.

Anna von Hausswolf – goth pop / rock / Gothenburg, Sweden
Is the world ready for a Swedish Kate Bush? Too late, she’s already here. With her operatic, far-reaching vocals and the shadowy but pounding chords of her organ, the sound of Anna von Hausswolf and her band is arresting. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those looking for something a bit darker in a sunny clime like Austin’s, step into these shadows.


Ask Carol – punk / Oslo
With a name that sounds more like the title of an advice column than the hard rock act they are, Ask Carol make an emphatic case, urging listeners to be assertive. Influenced by acts as disparate as Wilco to Lauryn Hill, but bolstered by the hard edginess of The Clash and Led Zeppelin, they’ll be a fun, high octane proposition live.


Chain Wallet – pop / rock / Bergen, Norway
Stian Iversen, Christian Line and Frode Boris are the principal members of Chain Wallet (pictured at top), occupying that nebulous area between lo-fi psych, dream pop and dance. Already drawing comparisons to Twin Shadow and DIIV, the lightness of their sound is sure to go over well among the chill crowds at SXSW.


CHINAH – pop / r&b / electronic / Copenhagen
Fine Glindvad fronts CHINAH, a Copenhagen trio specialising in that now-popular smooth blend of minimalist beat, upbeat guitar-filled, soulful xx-type sound. Hard to believe that in their current incarnation where they sound reminiscent of London Grammar that they were previously a folk outfit.


Darling West – folk / Oslo
We’re not taking anything away from them, but it’s time to take those blinders off that the only folks from the Nordic countries who can do country well are First Aid Kit. Darling West, a tight-knit trio led by the dulcet tones of Mari Sandvær Kreken, are about to get the Soderburg sisters a run for their money. Simple, yet stunning harmonies and instrumentation.


One Week Wonder – electronic / dream pop / Reykjavik
One Week Wonder comprises keyboardists Árni Guðjónsson and Magnús Benedikt Sigurðsson and Helgi Kristjánsson on drums. Despite a clear leaning towards today’s technology in their choice of instruments, Guðjónsson says he favours what he considers the more natural way of recording on tape, which is unusual for electronic artists. The surprising result: a remarkably smoother, less cluttered recording and a gorgeous, unparalleled atmosphere.


Rainbrother – folk rock / Copenhagen
While we’re waiting on the supposed return of Fleet Foxes, we can occupy ourselves with Danes Rainbrother, who just released their debut album at the start of February. On ‘Tales from the Drought’, Bjarke Bendtsen’s latest rock group conjure up the folky, hazy side of Bon Iver with the lonesome mountain sound of Robin Pecknold’s hugely popular band. Why bother waiting on either of them to release new material if you can catch Rainbrother in the flesh in Austin?


Tuvaband – lo-fi / dream pop / singer/songwriter / Oslo, Norway
Can SXSW take another lo-fi band? Of course. Named for singer/songwriter Tuva Hellum Marschhäuser, the ethereal, dream pop quality of Tuvaband is sure to win you over. And forget about those unwashed lo-fi dudes with long hair…



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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.

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