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SXSW 2016: Thursday night with the BBC Music showcase at Stubb’s BBQ – 17th March 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 6th April 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

After Thursday afternoon’s amazing Output Belfast showcase at the British Music Embassy, I headed over to Stubb’s BBQ for another exciting UK-centric show, the inaugural BBC Music Showcase. The emcees for the evening, BBC Radio presenters Steve Lamacq (6 Music), Jo Whiley (Radio 2), Huw Stephens (Radio 1) and MistaJam (1Xtra) were almost as high profile as the showcasing artists themselves, who according to the official SXSW preview of the event, were chosen to “represent the breadth of genres BBC nurtures and supports.”

Given the magnitude of the artists scheduled to perform at Stubb’s that night, I thought it would be wise to queue early, and I arrived just as the line outside the venue was starting to form, almost 2 hours ahead of the show. Luckily for me, Stubb’s offers takeaway barbecue near the venue gates, so I was able to grab a delicious pulled pork taco while I waited to get in. My fellow punters, including Melinda Hasting, John Baker, and Walter Fields of SXSW showcasing act Missi and Mister Baker made fine company, and the time spent in the queue passed quickly.

Loretta Lynn at BBC Music at Stubb's, Thursday at SXSW 2016

The members of Missi and Mister Baker were at Stubb’s specifically to see the first act on the evening’s bill, country music legend Loretta Lynn. I was giddy with excitement to see Lynn myself, especially after featuring her in my preview article on feminism at SXSW 2016. Lynn was accompanied on stage by a full backing band, led by her son Ernest Ray, and their set on the night was predictably spectacular, from their introduction by BBC Radio 2 host Jo Whiley all the way through to the sentimental favourite final track ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’. Jovial banter and playful teasing between mother and son punctuated the set list, which included shouted requests for “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven’ and ‘Fist City’. After a bit of suspenseful coquetry on the part of Ms. Lynn, we were treated to her latest single ‘Everything It Takes’ before she swept the figurative curtain closed with ‘Honky Tonk Girl’ and her signature set closer.

Loretta Lynn at BBC Music at Stubb's, Thursday at SXSW 2016

Loretta Lynn was no doubt a difficult act to follow, and the crowd at Stubb’s dissipated somewhat after the end of her set. The front of the venue didn’t remain vacant for long though, as a more youthful set of punters filed in for the next act, the female-fronted trio Sunflower Bean. Introduced by BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, the up-and-coming New Yorkers took advantage of the large stage at Stubb’s both visually and sonically, creating an impressive display of psych rock force, especially in their extended performance of ‘Space Exploration Disaster’. For more on Sunflower Bean, you can read our Steven’s review of their debut album ‘Human Ceremony’ right back here.

Lapsley at BBC Music at Stubb's, Thursday at SXSW 2016

Nineteen-year-old Liverpudlian electronic singer/songwriter Låpsley appeared next on the Stubb’s stage, on the strength of her recent debut album ‘Long Way Home.’ I wasn’t previously familiar with Låpsley’s music, but a fellow audience member described her to me as “like Adele, only with a dance beat.” His assessment wasn’t far off, as it turned out. If you like the timbre of Adele’s singing voice but find her songs a bit too sleepy and weepy, Låpsley’s more urban edge might be just your speed. Check out her recent concept video for ‘Love is Blind’ just below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/q9Jrlg6GnkY[/youtube]

I was even less familiar with Croydon grime artist Stormzy, who took the stage after an introduction by BBC Radio 1Xtra’s MistaJam. Though his given name is Michael Omari, Stormzy reminded us of his stage name several times in the course of his set, while also stirring up the crowd’s energy with frenetic onstage motion and relentless rapping over beats provided by his assistant, DJ Tiny. I couldn’t help but reflect on the contrast of styles between Stormzy and Loretta Lynn, and though Stormzy’s brand of hip-hop isn’t exactly to my taste, the formidable strength of his show was every bit as spectacular as Lynn’s opening set.

Stormzy at BBC Music at Stubb's, Thursday at SXSW 2016

Unfortunately a minor personal emergency near the end of Stormzy’s set meant that I was unable to stay at Stubb’s for the final act on the BBC Music bill, alt-folk rocker Jake Bugg. I have to admit that I was particularly disappointed not to see Bugg, who I also missed when he toured in America with Snow Patrol several years ago. On reflection, however, I feel fortunate that Mary I and found ourselves safe and sound at the end of the evening. Jake Bugg will remain on my musical bucket list for the time being; I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears open for possible future tour dates around his new third album ‘On My One’, which is due out in June. In the meantime, the video for his current single ‘Gimme the Love’ is playing just below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/o70e7Nb8SVM[/youtube]

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Feminism at this year’s festival’s forefront

 
By on Friday, 4th March 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo: Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz, courtesy of PAHF

Sexism in music is hardly a new phenomenon. Female musicians have literally been fighting it for centuries, going back to the dawn of Western music. In those early times, female performers were often banned from churches or any public musical productions. Women who did perform were unfairly objectified or viewed as sexually promiscuous and morally depraved. By force of centuries-old habit, those attitudes have prevailed into modern times, manifesting themselves in more subtle but equally pervasive ways.

With the outbreak of controversy surrounding #Gamergate, sexism and misogyny in the online gaming community came to the forefront of our awareness in 2015. Along with it came renewed and often heated discussion of sexism and misogyny in the music industry. Artists like Bjork, Speedy Ortiz frontwoman Sadie Dupuis and CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry have jumped into the fray, along with major music publications both in North America and the UK, universally sounding off against the marginalisation of women in music.

Jessica Hopper

Jessica Hopper, courtesy of Featherproof Books

Despite the cancellation of two previously scheduled Interactive Conference sessions addressing misogyny and harassment, the organizers at SXSW have responded resoundingly to the ongoing debate in their Music Festival and Conference programming. Former SXSW showcasing artist Dupuis will appear this year as a panelist on the Wednesday 16th March Conference track Representations of Women in Music Media, which will attempt to analyze present and future portrayals of women in music. And on Thursday 17th March, one of 2016’s most highly anticipated panels will feature an interview with former Pitchfork editor and music critic Jessica Hopper.  Last year, Hopper published her second book The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, then burst the sexism conversation wide open on Twitter with a call for stories of marginalisation within music and music journalism.

Angelique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo, courtesy of her Facebook

Recognising that marginalisation in the music industry isn’t limited to sex or gender, Feeling Ourselves? – Black Girl Power in Music (Wednesday 16th March) promises to address issues of both racism and sexism in music. In the same vein, another noteworthy panel choice on Friday the 18th of March is an open interview with world music artist and human rights advocate Angelique Kidjo. Hosted by NPR correspondent and music critic Ann Powers, the discussion will no doubt touch on issues related to feminism, racism, and intersectionality in music. More information on Powers’ scheduled interview with Kidjo can be found here.

Women in the music business are encouraged to pave their own paths in a Thursday 17th March panel titled She Who Goes First Sets the Rules – Women Innovators. By contrast, Business Rules for Women: Entertainment & Media on Friday 18th March seems on first glance to take a slight step backwards, as it implies a separate code of ethics and conduct for those of the feminine persuasion. Nevertheless, both panel discussions make a concerted effort to shift the traditionally male-dominant perspective and invite female participation on the commercial side of the music industry.

Loretta Lynn internal

Loretta Lynn, photo by David McClister

In terms of showcasing artists, the Music Festival has the potential to propel the feminist dialogue even further forward. Legendary country artist Loretta Lynn has been announced as a showcasing performer, which might not seem immediately relevant until you consider that Lynn has been an outspoken feminist in her music dating back to the 1960s. Songs like ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)’ and ‘The Pill’, not to mention ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’, placed Lynn squarely in the center of the feminist conversation, whether she initially intended it or not, and the subject matter of those songs is no less germane in 2016. Lynn’s upcoming new album ‘Full Circle’ will contain both revised versions of past hits and a few newly composed songs, including ‘Everything It Takes’, recorded as a duet with Elvis Costello. The new single continues Lynn’s established predilection for writing songs with empowered female characters, and Lynn herself described the new single in a recent interview with Rolling Stone as a “woman song—something more for a woman.”

Stealing Sheep

Stealing Sheep, courtesy of their Facebook

We here at TGTF already have our eyes and ears on a host of outstanding female artists from the UK who will be heading to SXSW this year. Among them, Liverpool dream pop trio Stealing Sheep, will make their first appearance in Austin with funding from the PRs for Music Foundation on the strength of their album ‘Not Real’ (reviewed here last spring). New TGTF writer Rebecca has already penned a Bands to Watch feature on up-and-coming female acts Abjects and The Big Moon (the latter of whom have unfortunately cancelled their SXSW appearance since publication).  Additionally, our continuing preview coverage of SXSW 2016 showcasing artists will soon feature singer/songwriters Jane Weaver and Holly Macve. Having touched on the issue of feminism several times last year in my own reviews of music by Esmé Patterson, Warpaint’s Jenny Lee Lindberg and the aforementioned CHVRCHES, I am particularly keen to observe and contribute to the discourse at this year’s SXSW.

 
 
 

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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.

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