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SXSW 2016: TuneIn Sessions, plus highlights and lowlights from Thursday evening – 17th March 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 6th April 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

Thursday evening began promising enough, with a fantastic set by The Big Pink at Easy Tiger Patio, which had been transformed into the TuneIn Sessions venue during SXSW 2016. I hadn’t been back to Easy Tiger since my first year of SX in 2012, and I definitely didn’t recall the kind of extensive queues I witnessed this year.

With the Big Pink, however, I would stay for the entirety of the set I actually could see in front of my face, as was very eager to see what was up Robbie Furze’s sleeve. Or rather his always heavily tattooed arm, and now that founding member Milo Cordell has left. Cordell has been replaced admirably and ably, it turns out, by Mary Charteris on keys and backing vocals. I was impressed with the way recent single ‘Hightimes’ sounded live: it’s a nice and welcome evolution from the Big Pink’s first album, 2009’s ‘A Brief History of Love’. It’s also, in a way, a return to their former glory after the less successful ‘Future This’ in 2012, in which the duo had worked with producer Paul Epworth and their attempt at shinier electropop never really got off the ground.

The Big Pink at TuneIn Sessions at Easy Tiger Patio, Thursday at SXSW 2016

I loved The Big Pink’s first album and while single ‘Dominos’ was a given for the set list, I couldn’t believe my luck when ‘Too Young to Love’ was included in the mix. More synth-heavy goodness with a good dose was delivered via songs off the newly released ‘Empire Underground’ EP, out now on B3SCI Records. Of these, ‘Beautiful Criminal’ came out swinging, sounding fresh.

Despite them being American and myself being such a massive fan of electropop, I’ve never managed to see YACHT live. I’ve always been thwarted somehow in seeing them live in DC, so I made a point to stick around at Easy Tiger to finally witness them live to rectify the situation. Whoa. Frontwoman Claire L. Evans, who like me is a science boffin writer type in her ‘normal’ life, is the kind of person one would say was made for the stage.

YACHT at TuneIn Sessions Thursday at Easy Tiger Patio, SXSW 2016

Her camp demeanour, funny faces and gesturing make it clear she was born to be an entertainer, and she serves as a perfect foil to YACHT founder Jona Bechtolt, who is otherwise confined to his table of synths and keys when he’s not jumping up and down and generally being a badass in a Bernie Sanders baseball cap. While I enjoyed the music, I decided halfway through their set that the dramatic and highly sexualised flair employed by Evans, particularly on ‘Ringtone’ and ‘I Wanna F*ck You ‘Til I’m Dead’ (ya, really) would be better enjoyed by someone outside waiting in the queue. Maybe I’ll see you round at a science expo, Claire?

I had a couple of options on tap for the rest of the evening and oddly only really wanted to see one band on the British Music Embassy lineup for PIAS / AIM, FEWS from Sweden (yes, not a UK band, I don’t get that either). Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy them anywhere as much as I had hoped, after listening to ‘The Zoo’ and thinking I was hooked.

Maybe I was stood in the wrong place, or maybe the mix wasn’t quite right, but that would have been surprising at the British Music Embassy, where the sound is usually peerless. However, everything was simply loud and I couldn’t distinguish a melody. I used to think Temples were bad for this kind of music, but at least there was a guitar hook I could latch on to and appreciate.

Disappointed, I left early to find something else. I realised soon enough that I couldn’t walk across from one side of 6th Street to the other like we always had in the past, getting stuck in a crush of bodies going west. As a pretty small woman with claustrophobia, it’s not the greatest of places to find oneself in. I finally decided to stop inside Friends. Inside, a loud and raucous crowd of Canadians (I’m guessing?) were cheering to The Mariachi Ghost: yes, an actual mariachi-themed band living in the Great White North. I feel bad that after all these years, I’ve never had much time to give to the Canadians, whether it be M for Montreal or BreakOut West, the host for this evening’s lineup of talent from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. When I’m able to clone myself, I’ll let you know.

The Mariachi Ghost describe themselves as “a unique musical fusion of Mexican folk music, progressive rock, spaghetti-western soundtracks, and jazz”. Which is a lot. The band came out of frontman Jorge Requena’s attempt at writing a graphic novel, with the songs based on stories and ideas that first took flight as part of this writing effort. Beyond the many Latino members you’re expecting as part of a mariachi band, this mariachi band also perform with Day of the Dead-esque skull makeup on their faces and with an interpretative dancer bandmate. This evening, she was festooned with flowers in her hair and used a red scarf to great effect, as a visual representation of the music being played, as well as engaging directly with the audience, including one particularly memorable trance-like moment with tango moves with a punter.

The Mariachi Ghost at BreakOut West showcase, Friends, Thursday at SXSW 2016

The audience rightly ate up this hybrid of gig and ballet theatre, and I bet you there was nothing else quite like it all week in Austin. Requena, clearly buoyed by how positively the audience members were responding, was in near tears at the end of their set, saying how wonderful everyone had been to them all week in Austin and how welcome they’d felt as a band so far from home. His final words before their last song was his pronouncement that he’d been getting a tattoo the next morning to commemorate their great time at SXSW. The whole experience was an excellent reminder of how much SX means to musicians, and we ALL should be reminded that while money may be the means of getting to Austin, it’s the actual experience of playing to an international crowd, among so many other bands getting the opportunity to do the same exact thing, that makes SXSW the experience unequaled anywhere else or by any other event in the world.

It was too bad that I only caught part of their set, as it was over too quick and I then I needed to find someone else to see. After being less than wowed by Polica on Monday afternoon at the Onion / AV Club party at Barracuda, I didn’t fancy queueing to get into the Parish to see them, although I was curious to ex-Smith Westerns member Cullen Omori’s new project directly after. He would be followed by Sydney’s DMA’s, who I’d seen on the Radio Day stage at the convention centre earlier, and I figured I’d see the same set, so I chose by venue instead.

Working my way further west, I ‘treated’ myself to a visit to the all-too-posh Driskill Hotel, with the intention of seeing Dion, of ‘Runaround Sue’ and ‘The Wanderer’ fame. Having grown up with parents who listened to either classical or ‘50s and ‘60s oldies music, Dion was a huge fixture in my childhood, and I remember all the words. Dion (surname DiMucci) was in town to do a q&a earlier in the day and this showcase, both to promote ‘New York is My Home’, a new blues studio album.

Dion at the Victoria Room at the Driskill Hotel, Thursday at SXSW 2016

As you might expect, the average age of the audience members in the Victoria Room for his appearance exceeded my own by a hefty bit. There was even an older gentleman who jostled me out of place so he could place a recorder on the surface of a speaker near the stage. Cheeky bugger! Dion is the kind of celebrated musician who would be able to keep telling stories all day and to be honest, I found the anecdotes he shared with us more genuine and heartfelt that his actual songs. More power to him that he’s still rocking it in his 70s. Let’s hope we’re all as creative and engaging as him when we reach those golden years.

And now we reach the part of my evening that didn’t go so well. Smartly (or so I thought), I asked a staff member at the hotel on another exit to the hotel, so I didn’t have to go back into the melee on 6th Street. I had every intention of seeing Brighton synthpop group Fickle Friends at the Sidewinder, then returning to the British Music Embassy to give Liverpool slackers Hooton Tennis Club, who I’d seen at the Great Escape 2015, another go. This never happened, because a man walked into me and on purpose on the corner of E. 7th Street and Trinity. I feel sure it happened on purpose, as there was no crowd on the corner (so there was no reason for him to walk into me) and I purposefully walked in the opposite direction of him coming towards me, but he changed course and charged. The next thing I knew, I was on the sidewalk, I was in pain, and my elbow was bleeding. The man ran across the street and was gone.

Some 20-something were kind enough to help me up and ask me if I needed to go to hospital, but I have been to too many in my life and I was not going to get stuck in A&E on a Thursday night in Austin. I said no and went off to find first aid, still shaking. This was when I learned that neither the police or EMS on the beat for SXSW have first aid kits (meaning they don’t carry antiseptic, sterile gauze or plasters), which you’d think would be a simple thing for all these protective personnel to have. I was and am still beyond shocked that these things that every parent would carry in his/her car for basic first aid for their children were nowhere to be found when I was sat on a curb with blood coming out of my arm. I’ve seen EMS cart off revelers with broken limbs, so maybe if I had broken my leg and couldn’t walk, maybe they’d done something. I got an ice pack, which is I guess is better than nothing.

I note my experience as a safety message that you really need to look out for your friends during SXSW, because I’m not sure what I would have done if Carrie could not come to collect me. I certainly shouldn’t have been driving with a bleeding elbow. It’s an unfortunate, scary and not entirely random event that sadly clouded the rest of my SXSW experience and makes me fear for my safety in future years.

For more of my photos from my Thursday at SXSW 2016 when I wasn’t dealing with a stupid emergency, visit my Flickr.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Output Belfast, and PIAS in association with AIM at the British Music Embassy – 17th March 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd March 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

The British Music Embassy will return to Latitude 30 at 512 San Jacinto Boulevard, right by the heart of the action off 6th Street during SXSW 2016. Get ready, because the lineups are looking pretty brilliant! On Monday, I previewed the talent on show from Tuesday evening through Thursday evening. Today’s post will detail who is and what’s on Thursday at the venue. Carrie will follow with a preview post of her own of the offerings all day Friday and Saturday to close out the festival.

Thursday at SXSW this year, in case you haven’t looked at your calendar yet, is St. Patrick’s Day, the 17th of March. So it makes total sense that some of the best and brightest talent from Northern Ireland will be lighting up Latitude 30 this afternoon at the Output Belfast showcase, brought to you by Generator NI. Armagh’s Silences will bring their timeless pop sound to start the afternoon on a great note. Jealous of the Birds, aka Naomi Hamilton from Portadown, has already gotten attention from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens for her EP ‘Capricorn’ and will also be appearing Thursday afternoon.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQwYmpmGp4E[/youtube]

Smack dab in the middle of the British Music Embassy Thursday afternoon bill is David C Clements, who has just released his debut album ‘The Longest Day in History’. You can read Carrie’s introduction to Clements here. Following him will be singer/songwriter and ginger beardy man Ciaran Lavery, who has received funding from PRS for Music Foundation to write and record his second album. The afternoon will conclude with a kick in the arse, scuzzy post-punk from Belfast’s Girls Names, who we’ve been following for a while since their appearance at SXSW 2012.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa1TshNz8YA[/youtube]

Shortly after Thursday afternoon’s programming ends, the British Music Embassy will be back open for Thursday evening’s full showcase from PIAS in association with AIM. Things begin on a raucous note with Manchester girl group PINS (read our past coverage on them here), the Bella Union-signed act who made the rounds of festivals big and small in 2015. Back to London but nowhere near anything expected from the capital is singer/songwriter Cosmo Sheldrake, who likes filming live performances in the weirdest places, like a Hungarian public bath and a launderette. Also unexpected is the inclusion of a Swedish band based in London like FEWS. Stereogum describes their sound on their track ‘The Zoo’ as ‘malevolent post-punk’, and we agree.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsHNH4cVdyE[/youtube]

The second half of Thursday’s lineup goes in a different direction, and you can ‘Indulge’ in soulful pop singer Jones. More non-Brit interlopers appear later in the evening: SPOOKYLAND from Sydney will bring their introspective shoegaze late night to the venue. And be sure to hang around until the end, so you won’t miss Liverpool’s young lo-fi rockers Hooton Tennis Club (read our past coverage on them here). The band released their debut album ‘Highest Point in Cliff Town’ last summer on Heavenly Recordings and will be looking to gain an American fanbase.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmbWVT-Ax1g[/youtube]

 

PIAS Label Love #2: Three of Braden’s Favourite Albums, Ever!

 
By on Friday, 12th August 2011 at 11:00 am
 

Editor’s note: Braden has chosen three of his favourite albums – ever! – and hopefully this post will persuade you to buy these albums in digital format – or if not these three, others from the labels affected by the SONYDADC / PIAS warehouse fire. Read more about the labels affected in this article from the Guardian.

Bon Iver – ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ (album’s page on JagJaguwar Web site | buy it from Play.com here with bonus track ‘Wisconsin’)
It’s hard to think that over 3 years ago that Justin Vernon sent himself off to a woodcabin in Wisconsin and wrote the masterpiece that is ‘For Emma…’ 2008, however gave us the beautiful record that has touched the lives and hearts of thousands. ‘Skinny Love’ is enough to break a heart and ‘For Emma’ is the kind of track that mends them again. If any album deserves to rise from the ashes in the same way that that it’s writer and listeners alike have, it’s this.

Frank Turner – ‘Love, Ire and Song’ (buy it from Xtra Mile here)
As far as albums that mean something me, Love, Ire and Song is one of the few that has ever truly moved me. From the beginning of I Knew Prufrock, in which Turner goes through his group of friends and describes life, a connection is built that never goes away and in something like Reasons not to be an Idiot, relating goes to a whole new level of cliche without ever feeling cheesy. Frank Turner is a man who knows how to get to me and his success is built upon years of relentless writing and touring, so for any of that to be lost due to what’s happening in London right now seems beyond tragic.

Johnny Foreigner – ‘Waited Up Til It Was Light’ (buy it from Best Before here)
With the minor Birmingham ‘riots’ and the London riots destroying much of Johnny Foreigner’s stock, it only seems right to feature their debut album. ‘Waited Up…’ is one of my favourite records and for good reason. From the start of ‘Lea Room’ all the way through, it’s power-pop at its finest from the Birmingham trio. ‘Salt, Pepa and Spinderella’ becomes something of an indie anthem and the JoFo following really set off from here. Especially if you haven’t heard Johnny Foreigner before, give this a listen and download it, you won’t regret it.

 

PIAS Label Love #1: Martin’s Top Ten Tracks to Buy in Digital Format

 
By on Wednesday, 10th August 2011 at 11:00 am
 

Editor’s note: This commentary by Martin is the first in a series by the writers of TGTF in response to the horrific and heartwrenching loss of thousands upon thousands of physical pieces of music by fire in the London riots earlier this week. This article by the Guardian provides a comprehensive list of the independent record labels affected by the SONYDADC warehouse fire, as well as current releases that already have known physical stocking problems including Arctic Monkeys‘ new 7″ single ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ (from the band’s recent album release, Suck It and See’ [review by Skint and Demoralised‘s Matt Abbott here]) and Charlie Simpson’s debut album ‘Young Pilgrim’ to be released on Monday (reviewed by John on Monday). You can still purchase digital downloads, and we wholeheartedly encourage you to support your favourite indie labels by giving your support, however many quid you can afford to part with. And with that, I’ll let Martin take it from here…

For those not living in London, limited to experiencing the shocking riots through the familiar, two-dimensional 24-hour rolling TV news prism, events can seem distant, remote, almost virtual. Our eyes are desensitised through countless dramatisations of fire, explosions and death on film that they cannot distinguish the real thing when they see it. It takes an element of the personal to break through the fourth wall and generate real empathy. Those of us with family members in London will already have felt this through emotionally-charged, first-hand accounts of the destructive rage of the paradoxically consumonihilist rioters. Their inchoate actions have very little to say about current politics, and are far too extreme to be a reaction against a few less pennies in the welfare pot. This is the stench of entitlement culture, of spoiled children and ignorant parents destroying what others have built; they have never achieved anything themselves and therefore are unaware of the value of things.

However, there is a silver lining: these people are identifying themselves. Their selfish worldview is laid bare, as are the lengths to which they will go to in its cause. They cannot now be ignored, and those who previously denied their existence are forced to discard their blinkers. For those music fans without any other connection with the capital, the news that the PIAS warehouse was torched in the melee, destroying vast quantities of media, provides that personal connection, that emotional reaction of disbelief and loss that is required to understand the extent of the destruction. The PIAS distribution list is a roll call of the finest independent labels in the country – imagining the excellence in the music which has gone up in smoke, and the effort required to produce it, is enough to bring a tear to the eye.

Good people must fight back. Those in London can give the rioters a literal bloody nose or knock a few teeth out. But those that must watch from afar can do something to offset the loss some of our favourite labels have experienced – buy a few quids’ worth of MP3s from the labels who have lost so much potential income overnight. Given the variety of PIAS’ clients, there are thousands of tracks to choose from: there literally is something for everyone. But in case the last few days’ events have suppressed your mojo, permit me to suggest 10 apposite tracks from the labels concerned. Buy these, buy something else, but please buy something. It’s a small gesture that says, “creativity will always beat destruction. It just doesn’t look that way all the time.”

Tune-Yards – ‘Gangsta’ (Beggars Banquet / 4AD) – buy it from iTunes here
Anna Calvi – ‘Blackout’ (Domino) – buy it from Domino Records here | read single review here
The Lords of Altamont – ‘Let’s Burn’ (Fargo)
Theoretical Girl – ‘Red Mist’ (Memphis Industries) – buy it from Memphis Industries here
Dan Sartain – ‘Bad Things Will Happen’ (One Little Indian) – buy it from iTunes here
The Besnard Lakes – ‘And This is What We Call Progress’ (Jagjaguwar) – buy it from Jagjaguwar here
Mr Oizo – ‘Monday Massacre’ (F Com) – buy it from iTunes here
Maps – ‘Everything is Shattering’ (Mute) – buy it from iTunes here
Stateless – ‘I’m on Fire’ (Ninja Tune) – buy it from Ninja Tune here
Aphex Twin – ‘Windowlicker’ (Warp) – buy it from Warp Records here

 
 
 

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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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