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SXSW 2012: Day 3 – Thursday night free for all, various venues – 15th March 2012

By on Wednesday, 28th March 2012 at 2:00 pm

Remember when I concluded at the end of Wednesday at SXSW that distance was a real killer for trying to stay on schedule with your favourite bands? It’s a good thing that there are so many things going on at this festival, in all parts of town, so if you want to ad lib and (gasp!) go off your previously dog-eared, highlighted and red pen marked schedule, that is totally okay. I had avoided putting any bands performing at Stubb’s BBQ place, in the northeast part of town, on my schedule, guessing that any show at that comparatively massive venue would be rammed, uncomfortable and full up of drunk and disorderly folks I’d witnessed down the front for We Were Promised Jetpacks the night before. After getting a taste of what Kaiser Chiefs had to offer at the Showdown at Cedar Street just hours earlier, a new friend from Australia convinced me to see them followed by the Temper Trap at Stubb’s that night. But what to do before? It would take me a while to get up there on Red River Street anyhow.

I mapped out a completely improvised new schedule for the night, which included starting with Films of Colour at Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) showcase at Easy Tiger Patio at 8:30 PM. Wednesday afternoon their drummer had been restricted to an iPod with beats and tapping on a ukulele; this time I’d see their full live setup. Maybe I was tired, or maybe it was because it was too early in the evening, but I didn’t get the same kind of chills from this band like I did in the Omni hotel lobby, where their harmonies bounced melodiously off glass surfaces. But I did tape their closing number, ‘Persinette’, which you can watch below; it’s my understanding that this is the song of theirs that appeared on Made in Chelsea. If you’re interested, have a look at the rest of the evening’s line-up, including headliner of the night, Ida Maria. But after saying my goodbyes to the 10 for 2012 poll winners and wishing them a safe trip home to London, I was off again.

Due to an unfortunate schedule clash, Fanfarlo played a show at U Street Music Hall in DC the same night Bombay Bicycle Club played a sold-out gig at 9:30 Club. Sometimes as a blog editor, tough choices have to be made, and in that case, I had to see Bombay, as I’d never seen them, despite being invited out to Philadelphia to see them support Two Door Cinema Club the year before and being unable to take them up on the offer. Luckily though, Fanfarlo had several gigs lined up at SXSW, and it wasn’t until I realised that Club de Ville, where they were playing a showcase sponsored by Paradigm, was literally steps from Stubb’s that I could squeeze them in after leaving Easy Tiger Patio. Fog obscured my walk along Red River Street, and it wasn’t clear if the effect was from a fog machine or some place being on fire, hopefully it was the former and not the latter. There was already a healthy, receptive audience who looked like they were enjoying the three-piece that was performing.

That’s when I had a sense of déjà vu. Wait a minute…the guitarist. He looks familiar… I started to wrack my brain, I’d seen this bloke before. And the guy next to him with a black baseball cap. Finally, I worked it out and nearly shouted “aha!” in the middle of the crowd. (I didn’t. Phew. I would have probably drawn some severe ire if I did.) They were Hundred Visions, an Austin band that had opened for Casiokids on the East Coast last autumn. Maybe it was a hometown, captive crowd, but you could just tell from the smiles on people’s faces and the shouts of approval after the songs, even though I’d arrived late, that they were beloved by this group of punters. Comparing it to their reception in DC, I’m really glad they had such a nice crowd response.

Then came Fanfarlo. Going from a trio with relatively little equipment to a five-piece with tonnes of stuff from England was a bit comical to watch. It was a small wonder than leader Simon Balthazar never tripped on any of the wires that lay dangerously all over the floor. I haven’t warmed to ‘Rooms Filled with Light’ the way I did with their debut ‘Reservoir’, but there is no denying that newer songs like ‘Deconstruction’ have a more commercial edge, and judging from the ‘pack ‘em in like sardines’ situation I encountered at Club DeVille, I think their popularity in North America is assured. (Er…thanks, NPR for making Fanfarlo a household name in America. Thanks, I think…)

From Club de Ville it was a short skip, hop and jump to Stubb’s. I was expecting some incredibly long queue like the ones I’d seen outside Hype Hotel on Trinity all week. No, I was shooed in quickly and efficiently by Stubb’s staff. Okay, so maybe all the other punters were taking it easy, getting drinks and buying up Stubb’s world famous grilled meats at the many concession stands set up on the perimeter of the grounds. Seriously, it was like you were at a fun fair or something; I was expecting the candy floss man and his cart to come by. No, instead, I was nervously trying to decide which side to stand on. Once I’d chosen stage left, I thought it would be tiresome to stand next to these uber Kaiser Chiefs fans from England and Australia, but in actuality, it was kind of fun. While we waited for the Kaisers and later in the intervening time while the Temper Trap roadies were setting up the stage, these girls sang differing versions of ‘Ruby’ and they were quite entertaining: up to this point, I hadn’t encountered any super fans of any of the acts I’d seen, so I considered if there were people like them who were excited about music as much as I was, then the music industry must be doing something right.

Compared to their earlier daytime show, this Kaisers set was a spectacle. Flashing coloured lights and even more bombast from Ricky Wilson is just what the doctor ordered and predictably, the blighty and Oz girls swooned and screamed like they were going to just die. To be fair, I was dying to an extent too: years ago when I became borderline obsessed with a certain Scottish actor in a sci-fi tv programme (along with millions of other girls in the UK; take a wild guess who…) and found out that one of his favourite bands was the Kaiser Chiefs, I investigated the band and I fell in love with ‘Ruby’. So that song is indelibly related to that time in my life when I had some grandiose dreams for the future, and watching them perform it in front of my very eyes melted my heart. (Actually, Ricky Wilson said at one point with some disbelief, “wow, you industry people…you do have a heart!” If you’re going to Reading/Leeds this summer, definitely catch them. You’re in for a good time.

The Temper Trap stormed most of the globe 2 years ago on the strength of their single ‘Sweet Disposition’ and debut album ‘Conditions’. Once word broke they had completed their album. I have to say, again, maybe it was just fatigue of being at SXSW 3 days in a row already but I just wasn’t feeling the new songs. ‘Dreams’ (video below) was just too much of a sleeper and I wished it was more animated to really get the crowd moving. However, Cheryl and I will be seeing them on Saturday in DC and we’ll have two minds them to confer and deliberate on the new material compared to the old faves like ‘Science of Fear’ and ‘Fader’.

What did they end with? No contest: ‘Sweet Disposition’, with pogo-ing and breathless screams of delight as I witnessed with them on their 2010 tour in Philadelphia and Boston. How will the new album fare? Only time – and the reaction of fans – will tell.


(SXSW 2012 flavoured!) Live Gig Video: Films of Colour play ‘Creature of Habit’ in a stranger’s living room for Knock and Rock

By on Tuesday, 27th March 2012 at 4:00 pm

You know we’ve got Bands in Transit and Black Cab Sessions in the UK? This looks to be the American version of those: Knock and Rock based in Los Angeles endeavours to foist acoustic, stripped down sessions of your favourite indie bands on unsuspecting American homeowners. Today’s band? Films of Colour, winners of our 10 for 2012 readers’ poll. They perform a really nice rendition of ‘Creature of Habit’ for some very accommodating Yanks. Watch the performance below. My review of their acoustic Second Play Stage at SXSW is here.


SXSW 2012: Day 3 – Filter Magazine / American Rag Showdown at Cedar Street at Cedar Street Courtyard – 15th March 2012

By on Tuesday, 27th March 2012 at 2:00 pm

Something about SXSW that some indie bands and bloggers have complained about: the festival will draw several better-known, high-profile acts that inevitably pull punters away from the smaller shows. To me, this is somewhat of a hollow complaint: people who are drawn to those shows probably wouldn’t be that adventurous enough to go see the truly unknown and unsung heroes. For the entire 5-day period of the fest, I didn’t once set foot at the giant Auditorium Shores outdoor amphitheatre that hosted the Shins, Counting Crows or the Cult – I just wasn’t interested to get bitten by mosquitoes and jostle for position to see toothpick figures marching around onstage. Most of the bands I saw can be comfortably classed as “indie”, except some that I saw Thursday.

Once the schedules were announced for Filter Magazine’s daytime showcases, I made note on my calendar in large red capital block letters “PARK MYSELF AT CEDAR STREET COURTYARD ALL AFTERNOON FOR KEANE”. Would I take a bullet for Tim Rice-Oxley? Probably. I think he’s one of the best songwriters of our generation. Keane hasn’t toured in America for 3 years, and the promise of hearing new material made me weak in the knees. Even better, the line-up was brilliant and the good folk of Filter Magazine and American Rag should be commended for putting together such an eclectic line-up. Of all the days I took a shuttle from my hotel to the convention centre to start my day, of course it had to be Thursday that the shuttle was late. I was going out of my mind, waiting. And when I finally got aboard the marked white van, I looked at my watch and groaned – I was missing Paula and Karol, who I’d seen the previous day and really loved and were the last band on the adorably named Don’t Worry, We’re from Poland showcase at the same venue that morning. And free barbecue. Damn.

Worse, it was already after 1 PM and I was missing Zulu Winter. Eep! Flustered, I yelled to the driver that I wanted off, jumping off the shuttle, then booking it to the place on 4th Street. I had no idea where I was going and then I considered, “how the heck am I going to find this place?” The band came to my rescue: I could hear ‘We Should Be Swimming’ from down the street. Hearing this wonderful song, I suddenly had an additional burst of energy, got in, got my Filter wristband and quickly made my way to the front.

These people who had arrived early for free food had no idea who they were – the girl next to me who grabbed their set list excitedly had to ask me who they were (hipster fail) – but gosh, I thought they sounded amazing. After seeing the dramatic video for ‘We Should Be Swimming’ I wasn’t sure if an English band like them could translate appropriately to performing in the Texas sunshine, but they did admirably. And didn’t wilt like English flowers. When singer Will Daunt announced ‘Silver Tongue’ (video here) would be their last song, I was upset. I wanted them to stay longer! (I’m a very lucky girl, I got to interview them 2 days later at the convention centre, and they were some of the sweetest musicians I’ve met yet.) I’m all over your Brighton Jam show at Great Escape, guys!

Continuing the party atmosphere was the group Reptar, hailing from Athens, Georgia (previously better known as the birthplace of R.EM. and the B52s). I’m a sucker for synths and what’s fun about Reptar (besides sharing a name with a green dinosaur from an American childrens’ tv programme) is that they’ve got an intriguing blend of disco and rock. (Some have described them as electropop and I don’t think this label does them justice.) It’s pretty hard to pull off a dance party vibe in broad daylight; think about it, that genre works best under darkness, and often with alcohol. What else is intriguing about this band? Googling reveals that they’re all still university kids with every intention of completing their degrees. Good on them. They were the only American, non-English band in the line-up and their guitarist wore a shirt with the American flag on it, probably to remind the crowd of this, lest people think they’re Brits. They’ve got a new album called ‘Body Faucet’ (eh?) on the 1st of May in the U.S. and I’m looking forward to this release.

Third on the bill was Band of Skulls, whose recently released second album John adored (read his review of ‘Sweet Sour’ here). In vast contrast to the previous two acts, the Southampton trio was clad in black, which probably wasn’t the greatest choice in 26+ C heat. They played a regular, non-SXSW gig on Tuesday at Antone’s that I missed, but Cheryl and I had planned on catching them when their tour made its way west to Washington 2 Saturdays later.

Thudding drums and bass coupled with squealing guitar? While the sunny surroundings seemed to the wrong kind of background for this band, they proved they’re the closest the iPod generation is going to get to a modern-day Led Zeppelin.

Kaiser Chiefs. Beloved by many a friend of mine and also by large pockets of fans back in Britain, I still had not seen these guys before. They were supposed to play in DC last September…until their American label folded, leaving them scrambling for their next stateside move. The Friday before SXSW, they actually appeared via a rescheduled date at the 9:30 Club but my day job had me out in California for the weekend. Bummer.

I thought I’d never see them this year until Filter revealed this line-up. It was very hard for me to choose among the 51 bands I managed to catch at SXSW but I think the title of best performance by an established act goes to Yorkshire’s finest.

Just like for Band of Skulls, I thought the sunny patio of Cedar Street Courtyard would directly undermine the ethos of this hard-rocking band. Instead, Ricky Wilson reveled in the sunshine, seemingly feeding off the sun’s rays and using it to his advantage. Looking like a fashion plate even though he was profusely sweating from the heat, he playfully slid down a banister before one song and then later decided to deliver to the masses, literally, set closer ‘Oh My God’. At first I had no idea what was going on when everyone started screaming and yelling. And then I saw Wilson’s figure bobbing down the length of the patio, supported by an accommodating fan’s shoulders. Wow. I was so impressed, I decided to reorganize my entire Thursday evening schedule to catch them later in their more natural habitat at Stubb’s. They were that good.

Now, for the main event: Keane. I’ve often joked to some of my mates who are also avid Keane fans (see what I did there, I avoided using “keen” to describe them) that something I’d like to do before I die is sing onstage with Tom Chaplin. So if you’re reading this Keane, you know my dying wish. I’ve seen them twice now since ‘Perfect Symmetry’ was released in 2008, so I know they put on a great live show. I’m baffled by the couple next to me who stood in the heat for 4 hours and 4 bands, only to leave and miss Keane entirely. Are you mad?

Women screaming and squealing commenced as soon as Chaplin, spied in a corduroy shirt, t-shirt and jeans and rocking it out like Elvis, was stood on the staircase directly above the stage. Gah. I nearly had a heart attack when one of the roadies brought out a regular length set list, only to be chided by another roadie that he’d grabbed the wrong set list. (Darn. Like Reading/Leeds or any other festival really, SXSW sets are not as long as those of gigs.)

They played four new songs – ‘Silenced by the Night’, ‘The Starting Line’, ‘On the Road’, and ‘Sovereign Light Café’ (the first three I posted last week as Live Gig Videos here – but it was obvious that the fans were there for the old hits. They started off with the lively ‘Bend and Break’ and worked their way through fan favourites ‘Everybody’s Changing’ and ‘Is It Any Wonder?’ before finishing with ‘Somewhere Only We Know’. Now, that final song once was the bane of my existence. Overplayed on American radio, I hated that song. But standing there, several ounces lighter from sweating in the Texas heat for over 5 hours, stood in front of one of my favourite stadium live acts ever, it came all together for me. I finally understood why fans love this song so much. Getting to see such a massive English act on a tiny little – and outdoor – stage like this one will be one of the experiences from SXSW 2012 I’ll never forget. Thanks everyone.

More high-res photos of the bands, their set lists, a naughty guitar pedal of Keane’s and a butterfly that enjoyed Kaiser Chiefs so much, it hung around for their entire set can be viewed on my Flickr here.


(SXSW flavoured!) Video of the Moment #746: Kaiser Chiefs

By on Monday, 26th March 2012 at 6:00 pm

‘On the Run’ was one of the new songs debuted by Kaiser Chiefs at SXSW, and here’s the promo video, just in time to post in the midst of my SXSW coverage. Sweet on the Kaisers? Then this one’s for you.


SXSW 2012: Day 2 – Scottish Music Industry Association showcase at Easy Tiger Patio – 14th March 2012

By on Monday, 26th March 2012 at 3:00 pm

With my previous music festival experiences, time proved to be my greatest enemy. At SXSW this year, I found a new foe: distance. While I’m a native Washingtonian and our town ranks in the top 10 of most walkable American cities, even I was flagging after day 2 in Austin. When you’re subsisting on less than 4 hours of sleep per night, dehydrated and hungry, all signs point to you not crossing the road to meet Adam (Duritz of Counting Crows, whose name was on a sign I spotted in the airport the afternoon I arrived but sadly did not accidentally run into at baggage claim). After a brief respite sat on Cashier No. 9’s guitar cases, sitting out in a fenced in section outside Tap Room at Six after the Northern Irish showcase there, my next stop was Easy Tiger Patio on the east side of town to catch the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) showcase. Predictably, the place was already near full and rammed with people of varying stages of inebriety. Wending my way through the crowd was about as simple as walking through quicksand; I’m also not a fan of people smoking during gigs and I guess because it really was a patio covered by a tarp, smokers thought it was still outdoors enough to light up. Ugh.

I could hear (and liked what I heard) but could not see Three Blind Wolves playing. By the time I got halfway up towards the front of the stage, their set was over and the sea of punters parted, many of them dashing over to meet the band off the side of the stage. Now’s the chance to get down the front for a band I was dying to see at SXSW and expect to also catch at the Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City this year, Django Django. I’m kind of embarrassed that I didn’t know they were Scottish until I saw them listed on this showcase’s line-up, but I should be forgiven, seeing that it’s not like their music is all about tartan flag waving? While they set up, they looked like four average blokes from anywhere. Three days later I saw them wearing football kit, leaning over bar tables and getting drunk during a Slow Club set. They looked like ordinary punters…

But then they changed into outfits that could make you believe they were male nurses from Planet Cheeto. How unusual! I hope I’m not the only person making note of their stage clothes: it reminds you just how unique Django Django are. They have this dance vibe that underlies some great harmonies and guitar riffs harkening back to the great California rock of the ‘60s and ‘70s (think the Byrds and the Eagles); the combination sounds unsettling on paper but somehow resolves into this extremely tight and fun unit live.

The atmosphere was amazing for ‘Skies Over Cairo’; I’m positive there’s never been such an enjoyable dance party in the Egyptian capital. Their set was unfortunately cut short due to a curfew, so shockingly they didn’t play ‘Default’ but they ended instead with ‘Wor’, complete with its warning sirens and surf-y guitar riffs not heard since the Surfaris (watch it below). YES. That’s it. I’m plastering myself on their appearances in Brighton and Liverpool in May.

So after the brill party atmosphere of the Djangos were the actual headliners of the Scottish showcase, We Were Promised Jetpacks, and I felt their set was a bit of a letdown. Don’t get me wrong, I thought they sounded great and the fans were certainly up for it, going completely manic for Adam Thompson’s impressive showing with the vocals for ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’. But they couldn’t elicit the same kind of energy Django Django could. Also detracting from the performance was a very pissed woman whose mates kept bumping into the new friends I made, not caring that they were being completely obnoxious. The woman was so drunk, she kept testing the invisible line separating stage and band from the crowd. At one point, she stepped onstage and her boyfriend was taking a photo of her “with” guitarist Michael Palmer, who was trying to do his job and play and really wasn’t having any of it, giving her bunny ears; later, he yelled at her to shut up and “back off”. Not wise to anger a Scotsman!

I’m sure you can tell from this portion of the review that I was really cheesed off by these few bad apples ruining the show; part of me wondered about the ambience at the Lionel Richie show at the Moody Theatre on the west side of town, where the Austin City Limits tv programme is filmed, taking place at that very moment and if I’d made the wrong choice. (Turns out Kenny Rogers showed up as a special guest. Humph…) But I’m glad I caught the Djangos when I did. Further, after the showcase was over, I went over to thank Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway (pictured above introducing the Jetpacks) for having a hand in putting the show together but was quickly steered clear that Stuart Thomas of the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) was really the man to thank.

Then, all of a sudden, Planet Cheeto’s drummer Dave Maclean of Django Django showed up and we were chatting away. In these electronic times, it’s all too common for bands, radio folks and bloggers never to meet in person even if they know of each other over the internet; as a blogger, it’s a rare treat to put names with faces and make new friends in places like SXSW. It’s moments like these when I really treasure and come to full realisation how lucky I am to be able to do what I do in my free timeVic and Stuart hoped I’d come out to their Discovering Scotland show, part of the British Music Embassy programming on Friday afternoon, and I promised I’d try my best. So after receiving Scottish hugs and thank yous all around, I went home to rest my weary head on my pillow, smile on my face. Tomorrow was another big day in Austin.


SXSW 2012: Day 2 – Northern Ireland showcase at Tap Room at Six – 15th March 2012

By on Monday, 26th March 2012 at 1:00 pm

Sometimes, even in the competitive world of music blogging, an editor needs to take time out for herself. One of the SXSW showcases I was most looking forward to hunkering myself down at was the Northern Irish showcase being put on at the Tap Room at Six on Wednesday night. Oddly, the line-up was pretty much the same at British Music Embassy’s Monday night show at Latitude 30, so had I arrived a day earlier, I could have caught that bill instead, but I suppose it was just my good luck that the three of the bands from Monday night were performing together once again. Wasn’t a huge fan that the stage was so high up that I got neck sprain, just like at Philly’s Trocadero, but beggars can’t be choosers, can they?

The first band on were the Wonder Villains from Derry. I’d first heard of them after last month when they received the glowing nod of approval from Steve Lamacq on his weekly New Favourite Band feature on 6music. Musically, they sound a lot like General Fiasco, who we’ve written about a lot here on TGTF, except they’re made up of two girls and two guys and they have a female lead singer, Eimear Coyle, who came out on stage in an Iron Maiden t-shirt, hot pink leggings, and a gigantic daisy nested in the organised chaos that was her hair. Then you looked at backing singer / keyboardist Cheylene Murphy, with her bright red feather earrings and appropriately tropical outfit of red and turquoise. A strong look, but this is Austin and SXSW, so it worked. So what are they like live? Think superhero (superheroine?) choruses that were infectious as hell and bouncy guitar that everyone’s going for these days. Combine that with a youthful exuberance that makes you wish you were 15 again, running out of town with their ‘Ferrari’ (video below) as you do when you’re young with no responsibilities, not worrying about money or where you’re going in life. Sigh.

I thought it might be a stretch to relate to these kids so much younger than myself, but Coyle was going on about their song ‘Calgary’ that was written after they’d watched the Disney film Cool Runnings (you remember it I’m sure, about the scrappy Jamaican bobsled team) and I just had to laugh, knowingly, to myself. If anything, this is the kind of band that’s destined to be big with the Disney crowd (and that’s not a dig by any means, by the way).

I always have a different outlook on bands after I’ve interviewed them and they’ve revealed themselves to nice people and not posturing, obnoxious snobs. So I viewed my impending first view of Belfast’s General Fiasco in gigging mode with much excitement. I think I’d like to sum up their performance with one word: wheeeeeeeeeee! Having only ever heard their sound through the internet, I already knew I was in for frantic guitar lines and driving beats but wow, I was simply blown away. I don’t know how these guys don’t have an American record contract yet. Seriously.

I had connected with ‘Waves’ on initial listen; Owen Strathern’s declaration of “and I go back like a wave to the shore / I don’t think about you much now anymore” rings true to anyone who’s trying to get back on their feet after a break-up. But you can get over someone this way, admitting to your mistakes and being ok with it all, it’s so much more enjoyable. And this was a definite highlight of the set; as the title track off their November 2011 EP, it’s a definite step up in maturity from their ‘Rebel Get By’ early days, as was ‘Don’t You Ever’, another newer song. A new album’s purported to be along the way later this year, and I couldn’t be more delighted.

The last band I’d see in this showcase would be Cashier No. 9. If you recall, I saw them play a triumphant set at London XOYO in November. I already knew then that they had what it took to get a foothold in America, so when I heard they were announced to play SXSW, I had hoped this meant industry execs would get to see them and they’d be offered a record deal up front. (I’ve not heard anything to this effect yet, which is not to say it hasn’t happened already in the last 10 days, but this was my biggest wish after seeing them in London.) While the Wonder Villains and General Fiasco play very in your face guitar rock/pop, I find Cashier No. 9 is a bit harder and possibly more middle of the road in terms of American radio play. Not surprisingly, the Tap Room at Six by this time was pretty packed, which I was pretty pleased with.

Besides being high up, the stage was tiny, and the group crammed all their gear and personnel onto it. At one point in the set, I ended up becoming emergency guitar wrangler down the front because Danny Todd didn’t have a safe place to park his acoustic, so I grabbed it from him and placed it down on the floor in front of me for safekeeping. Despite the claustrophobia while they weren’t physically all over the place as the two that preceded them, the band delivered a blinding yet measured performance. ‘Goldstar’ started the proceedings off with pop punch, which continued all the way to ‘The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out’ (video below), with its psych rock outro, and closing track ‘Goodbye Friend’, an appropriate ending to bid adieu to new friends that you hope you will see again soon, a sentiment I share. Let’s hope they, along with their Northern Irish band friends, will tour worldwide in the very near future.


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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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