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SXSW 2013: Day 3 afternoon – from Rainey Street to Waterloo Records and back to 6th Street – 14th March 2013

 
By on Thursday, 28th March 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

The title of today’s SXSW post isn’t very descriptive, as I didn’t stay in one particular place too long and my plans kept changing. And such is life at SXSW, because even with the best laid plans, there is still a chance that an opportunity comes along that you’ve just got to grab with both hands and savour the moment. If you had read my dog-eared, notation-covered schedule for Thursday, you would have saw that I had planned to St. Albans’ seminal rock band the Zombies at a house party in East Austin at the conclusion of the afternoon. But as it were, things didn’t really work out that way…

I actually didn’t stay out all that late Wednesday after the Communion showcase at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop; Wednesday night was the last night (unfortunately) of a shift by a very nice bellman at the Four Seasons who was smart enough to come up with a clever scheme of organising punters’ rides home by direction. This is how I entirely accidentally sharing a taxi with someone I’d met last year, Nathan Graves of Imperial Music and Media, who recognised me before I recognised him. “I was with Films of Colour last year…I remember you!” I guess word gets around about the ol’ Chang, eh? (That’s an inside joke that will be explained in more detail later.) He was in town helping promote Skinny Lister, and we engaged in a bit of conversation as I’d seen the booker of the Glass House in Pomona, California (a very cool venue, at least by the way my friend Beckie describes it) holding one of their limited edition singles whilst stood outside Latitude 30 when I was futilely queueing for the 1975 Tuesday night. And yes, this is just how crazy SXSW can be, or at least it is this way for me because it’s how my brain works; some PR friends were telling me last week that SXSW for music professionals is like summer camp: you get away from your real life for a week to revel and party with people you may not see for the rest of the year. Anyway, I digress…

I was not thinking that it would be a problem to get up early enough and sort a taxi on my own to meet Story Books from Kent for an interview at Blackheart club on Rainey Street. I’d been taking the bus in every morning with no problem, but as you see, Rainey Street and all its clubs are a good jaunt southeast from the convention centre, and it would have taken my ages to walk even from the bus stop in town. So taxi it was. I got there a little late, but that was okay because Story Books were in the bar, talking to a woman from PRS for Music, and this gave me a window of opportunity to finally catch Duologue live in the beer garden out back.

Duologue SXSW

The five-piece London band were taking full advantage of the small but warmed by the sun outdoor stage. And really, when else would Duologue be able to say, “we performed inside a wooden box at SXSW, and we had to wear our sunglasses!” Right? Come now, even frontman Tim Digby-Bell looked at his ubercoolest, like a younger and way better sounding Ric Ocasek of the Cars. Their performance was living proof that it is very dangerous to lump bands into genre ‘boxes’; I’ll be the first to admit that I had lazily put them in the all too full synth/soul box after the release of their single ‘Underworld’, but their music is actually much more complex and exciting than that.

They’ve just released their debut ‘Song & Dance’ on Killing Moon and while there is an element of dance, it’s more so heavy beats that propel the dark nature of their songs and their songs are really quite spectacular live. After a hello and photo op with Killing Moon head honcho Achal Dhillon that I’d promised to Mike Bradford of the Recommender – yes folks, we are looking at 9 weeks to go until we’re back in Brighton for the Great Escape 2013 – it was back inside the Blackheart to find Story Books.

Story Books SXSW interview top

This was when I came upon an interesting sight: on a shelf usually reserved for revelers’ drinks, spread out in neat stacks were piles and piles of hats in front of a mirror that took up a good portion of one wall of the bar. People were coming and going, trying on hats in the mirror, and it wasn’t until I recognised the bass player from Mikhael Paskalev from the night before, getting his picture professionally taken with a genuine Stetson hat, that I sort of sussed what was going on. I found out from the lovely Mary-Joy of Tanq production company that the iconic country/western hat company has been looking for a way to rebrand themselves and spread themselves further than simply the American hat-wearing public. When I think of the name Stetson, I think of John Wayne and a whole slew of western film actors and their 10-gallon hats, which aren’t really hip these days, and I can’t think of a better place to be spreading the good word about a company internationally than SXSW. In exchange for informational assistance about the many British bands (my forte!) who happened to be passing through Blackheart’s doors, I was able to leave Austin this time with a very nifty souvenir of my own. Score! So if you see me in blighty in May sporting a smart trilby, you’ll know where I got it.

Next it was time to talk to the three awake members of Story Books. We had a very nice chat, including discovering that leader Kris Harris is a cider drinker like myself and that he had actually been to DC 3 years ago as a member of Laura Marling‘s during her first major headline tour of America in 2010. I think they gained a whole load of new fans at the Communion show the night before, and the mere fact that there are now two Communion showcases instead of just the one last year (starring then unknown in America Ben Howard, Daughter and Michael Kiwanuka) goes to show that the label’s influence is growing and goes far beyond the confines of Britain. You can listen to my interview with Story Books here.

The next part of my afternoon would take a long trip northwest. I’d never been to the hallowed Waterloo Records, and I figured this would be a good time, and the perfect opportunity to see my friends the Joy Formidable and not worry about getting shut out by badge holders. I hailed a pedicab and in the spirit of gaining good karma, let a woman who was dying for a pedicab share my ride. She never gave me her card, so I don’t know what label she runs, and I did not give her mine, so it’s unlikely she will read this. It’s not cool to pay someone who’s biking up and across Austin a paltry $2 to the centre of town from Rainey Street. It’s really not. I ended up paying my sweaty, unsuncreamed driver $20 for a comfy ride (the breeze!), not to mention a very cool way to see the city, for the trip out to the record shop.

Gold Fields Waterloo SXSW

I arrived just in time to catch the second half of Gold Fields‘ set. Cheryl saw them at U Street Music Hall recently, and I seem to have missed them every single time they’ve stopped in DC, but this time? No. There was already a huge crowd assembled for them, and unfortunately, I was stood just outside the protective awning above the stage, so I grabbed my tube of suncream and slathered it on liberally. After the ARIAs red carpet experience, I wasn’t taking any changes at becoming another walking warning advert for sun overexposure…the Joy Formidable. It’s always the best feeling to see your friends go from being virtually unknown in America (back when their premiere appearance in DC was playing Black Cat Backstage, not even the main stage, in 2010) to where they are now, at the top of their game and nowhere else to go but up, up, up. Dave Grohl endorsements aside, Ritzy Bryan, Rhydian Dafydd and Matt Thomas have been touring and working nonstop to make this dream of theirs a reality, and to see massive queues following them wherever they were playing during nighttime showcases at SXSW are a testament to their hard-working ethic.

Joy Formidable Waterloo SXSW 2

They banged out old favourites like ‘The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade’ and ‘Cradle’, while also offering up new singles ‘Cholla’ and ‘This Ladder is Ours’ from the new ‘Wolf’s Law’ album that fit seamlessly in the hard-rocking oeuvre they’ve worked so hard to create over the last couple of years. The stage right punters, who had obviously been there since noon to claim their spots, were of the diehard TJF variety, moshing as soon as Ritzy hit her first note. Later on the set, rather hilariously there was a teenage boy (remember, this was an outdoor, free show, so those under 21 were allowed to attend) who faked being drunk and stoned so he could throw his body and get closer to the barrier. Err… I give him points for being so enthusiastic about the Joy Formidable, but the poor girls next to me had never witnessed anything like that (I have, many times, in gig situations) that their burly male friends shoved him and gave him a talking-to. The faux drunk eventually backed off…and got what he wanted later, greeting the band after with a “you’re awesome!” and high-fives. Glad it didn’t end in tears. Or fisticuffs… I just have to laugh at experiences like this. As music fans, I think when in the presence of our favourite bands, we all get overly enthusiastic!

Joy Formidable Waterloo SXSW

I could never promote a band I didn’t truly believe in; at every step of the way, I’ve enjoyed the Joy Formidable career trajectory and never once have I witnessed any sort of rock star / diva posturing by this band. They are truly down to earth, which is not something you can say about everyone in this business. While I am pleased to report that most everyone I knew that I happened to run into in Austin greeted me warmly, I didn’t expect the level of warmth given to me by the Joy Formidable. If you happened to be in the queue to get your TJF purchase signed at Waterloo Records, you probably saw me sitting in the background, trying not to look obvious, because they invited me to hang out with them while they took incredible care of interacting with their very excited fans. Afterwards, I got an unconventional lift back into town…on their tour bus. I think everyone outside the Belmont was wondering, “who the hell is that coming off that tour bus?” I just smiled.

I often think to myself that the music business would be such a better enterprise if there was less of a ‘us vs. them’ mentality between the bands and the industry, and the best example I can think of where this works is the special relationship between the music blogger and a band very beloved to him or her. It’d be entirely daft to say that it’s not money that runs this industry. But there is a huge part of me that wishes that everyone could see and experience what I’ve felt with certain bands and the level of camaraderie that exists between people that truly respect one another. You could melt a heart of stone with those experiences. And certainly, they’d be useful reminders for those record execs on why they got into the music business in the first place.

 

(SXSW 2013 flavoured!) Live Gig Videos: Gold Field share live performances of ‘Happy Boy’ and ‘Treehouse’ ahead of SXSW

 
By on Thursday, 28th February 2013 at 4:19 pm
 

Ahead of their appearances at this year’s SXSW, Australian dance band Gold Fields have released this live video of themselves performing ‘Happy Boy’, a song off their debut album ‘Black Sun’ out now. The title says ‘Live at Sing Sing’, but somehow I don’t think they mean the prison… We are also including below a performance of ‘Treehouse’ from the same live session.

Gold Fields will be appearing at SXSW 2013 at Maggie’s May’s Rooftop on Saturday 16 March at 10 PM; other appearances are TBA. For more Australian band tips, check out the suggestions from AU Review Head Photographer Johnny Au here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7_aQqH343o[/youtube]

 

Live Review: Gold Fields and A Silent Film with American Authors at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 4th February 2013

 
By on Friday, 8th February 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

Heading down the stairs at U Street Music Hall in Washington, DC is always a joy for me. No matter the band or the time, heading into the basement club feels special and secret. A newbie to the club told me she had to ask a local merchant where the door was. Turns out she had passed it twice!

American Authors Washington

Brooklyn-based American Authors started off the night. And it turns out they really are just that – writers of music from across America. Hailing from a wide variety of states flung across the nation, they produce songs that are catchy, boisterous and just plain fun. Affable fellows, mates Zachary Barnett, James Shelley, Matt Sanchez and Dave Rublin were clearly on a personal high since just 3 nights earlier they were signed to Mercury Records.

Peppering the set with songs penned just weeks ago, the band was clearly testing the waters for what to put on their debut album. Their song ‘Believer’ is currently in rotation on Sirius Radio’s Alt Nation (a weak approximation of BBC’s Radio6) and was clearly recognized by the gathered group. These guys are poised to make their splash, look for their record soon.

A Silent Film Washington

A Silent Film then roared onto the stage to greet the group of loyal followers at the front. Starting with the drum intense ‘Reaching the Potential’, this Oxford band has found a welcoming home on American soil, evident by the comfort all the members show on stage. Flanked by bassist Ali Hussain and guitarist Karl Bareham, frontman Robert Stevenson lured the crowd in by regularly coming to the front of the relatively tiny stage and beckoning with his entire body. Quipping that they had learned not to talk politics to Americans (especially in DC!) the band launched into their shortened set (nature of a co-headlining tour) with vigour.

Their two older songs were found mid-set and are among my favourites, ‘Driven By Their Beating Hearts’ and ‘You Will Leave a Mark’. As a testament to their connection with the crowd, Stevenson started one song off, unaccompanied, with a simple “oooo, oooo, ooo” and was greeted with a resounding “oh oh oh oh oh”. Pleased with the response, he stepped off to the keyboard and launched into ‘Harbour Lights’ using the assembled singers to carry that call and response throughout. They left the stage after a triumphant ‘Danny, Dakota & the Wishing Well’.

Gold Fields Washington

As happens when a gig is a co-headliner, the crowds for each band are often different. The entire front two rows changed hands at the conclusion of A Silent Film’s set. It was replaced with a slightly older, more sedate set of punters content to vigorously head nod. A five piece from Ballarat, Australia, Gold Fields’ strong suit is their rhythm section with Ryan D’Sylva playing the backbone and Rob Clifton on the synth and a full complement of drums, blocks, and bells. It evoked a bit of tribal baseness and mixed it up a bit from the standard indie fare.

A bit more shoegaze than I like, the band stirred up quite a bit of free flowing dancing at the back where I could smell a distinct eau de weed. But God help me, if I wasn’t struck by a decided Temper Trap-ness. I hate to compare these guys to their fellow countrymen, but perhaps they couldn’t avoid the influence. Vocalist Mark Robert Fuller, axeman Vin Andana and bassist Luke Peldys round out the band and certainly gave what they had to give, but when all was said and done, I think they were suffering from a bit of first-gig-of-the-tour sluggishness. Tour lurgy usually sets in at the end of a long stint on the road, but when you are 16,000 km and 16 hours away from home, it’s going to take you a bit to get your footing. (I happened to catch them the next night in Baltimore and can confirm that on the bigger stage and with another night in the Eastern time zone, their performance was much better.)

After the cut: the set lists.
Continue reading Live Review: Gold Fields and A Silent Film with American Authors at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 4th February 2013

 

(SXSW 2013 flavoured!) Video of the Moment (and more!) #1101: Gold Fields

 
By on Friday, 25th January 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

Aussie dance-pop quintet Gold Fields has offered up the video to the lead single ‘Dark Again’ off their debut album coming next month. With a clear dark vs. light theme going on (is that really an albino African?) the band pumps the black and white screen with bright guitar lines and a bit of an African beat. Just one question, are there wolves in Africa? We’ve also got the Diamond Rings remix of the song for you to take a listen to as well.

Gold Fields is set to make their first headline foray onto American shores in a few weeks as they co-headline a tour with Oxford band A Silent Film and make an appearance at SXSW 2013. The album will be released on Astralwerks on 26 February in America and Canada but we hope a UK release is not far behind.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-YzfAUsj1o[/youtube]

 

MP3 of the Day #597: Passion Pit

 
By on Tuesday, 7th August 2012 at 10:00 am
 

Lots of laudatory compliments have been flying around for Passion Pit‘s new album ‘Gossamer out last month. Still not sold? Have a read of Tom’s review of the album here. Then you might want to have a listen to and download Gold Fields‘ remix of ‘Take a Walk’, courtesy of Rolling Stone, here.

 

MP3 of the Day #269: Gold Fields

 
By on Thursday, 2nd December 2010 at 10:00 am
 

So we reviewed Gold Fields‘s debut single, ‘Treehouse’, yesterday on TGTF. Then we got wind of this remix by Val-d’Isère, not the French ski resort but a London duo which has described as ‘electronic jazz’. Jazz is one of those rare music genres that I tend to avoid like the plague, but in the case of this remix, I think the word ‘jazz’ refers to the chill, relaxed feel the duo has lent to the otherwise bouncy feel of the original. The vocals sound like they’re going through a faraway megaphone, an almost icy, post-punk effect; the industrial clanking always lends this feel. It’s like a whole ‘nother song and definitely worth a listen and even a download below.

 
 
 

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