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SXSW 2017: Brits and Australians, plus Bahranians and Mongolians (seriously!) Wednesday afternoon – 15th March 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 29th March 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

After the Nile Rodgers keynote speech at the convention center that was less than thrilling, I was ready for some live music. Carrie and I went down south to get our bearings ahead of Culture Collide’s taking over of Rainey Street for the rest of the week. If you’ve ever been to Rainey Street, you know that there a bunch of cutesy houses down the road that host day and night parties all week during SXSW. It’s an entirely different vibe than the clubs in the downtown area, but I never seem to get to spend much time down there.

After an aborted attempt in getting free tacos at Feed the Beat’s afternoon showcase at Lustre Pearl, I left Carrie to go next door to Bar 96. Ten Tonnes, aka young Hertford singer/songwriter Ethan Barnett, would be the first to take the stage at the Twix showcase. I was quite curious about him, as he was set to appear midnight that night at the Radio 2, PPL and PRS for Music showcase at the British Music Embassy, emceed by BBC Radio presenter Jo Whiley. We’d never heard of him before our SXSW previewing, so how did such a youngster get such a desired performance slot?

Ten Tonnes, Bar 95, Culture Collide / Twix, Wednesday 15 March 2017

His set at Bar 96 was his first-ever American performance, but he didn’t show any apprehension, launching into a series of bluesy rock and rockabilly numbers, including single ‘Silver Heat’, which just happened to be released the day after this performance. I think I speak for everyone watching this set that it’s a surprise (a pleasant one) to hear a young man sing and play blues rock and so convincingly. This business is full of musicians willing to sell their souls to make it, going towards genres and playing music their hearts aren’t into. However, it became crystal clear in my short interview with Barnett that he’s dedicated to this style of songwriting, and I’m sure he found loads of inspiration while being in America.

It’s unbelievable that I’ve not visited Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden all these years, but I finally made it this year. Somehow I managed to consume one of their fabulous bratwursts with sauerkraut after catching Australian Alex Lahey play Banger’s outdoor garden during the StubHub showcase there. I don’t know how many beer gardens there are in Melbourne, but surely this must have a bucket list ticked off for Lahey and her band.

Alex Lahey, Culture Collide / StubHub, Banger's, Wednesday 15 March 2017

She’s the kind of girl you know you’d have a fun night out boozing with, laughs all around. Like fellow Melbournian Courtney Barnett before her, you can tell Lahey doesn’t take herself or her music too seriously. She’s got a little pop song called ‘You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me’, which is an upbeat, funny ode that see Lahey thumbing her nose at pretentious people. Which is exactly what she’s not: I have on good authority from a blogger friend from Oz that he was not surprised she was only wearing t-shirts in Austin, but that she ran the risk of ruining her stage outfits with barbecue sauce. Ha. Somehow I don’t think that would have fazed her anyway. Check out her video for ‘Wes Anderson’ in this previous Video of the Moment feature.

I walked back up to 6th Street to a little hole in the wall called Big Bang Bar to see another Aussie band. It’s a good measure of a band to see their stage demeanour, no matter if they’re playing to 10 or 10 thousand. Despite only playing to a few boozers at the bar and a handful of interested people like me, Sydney electropop group Castlecomer gave it their all at their slot at the South X Big Bang afternoon showcase, filled mostly with American acts.


Castlecomer, South X Big Bang, Big Bang Bar, Wednesday 15 March 2017

While I’m sure this performance was very different than their appearance the next day at the Aussie BBQ at Brush Square Park, I thought Castlecomer sounded incredible in the small club. Frontman Bede, with a shocking amount of incredible hair that Pantene should get on right away for an advertisement opportunity, bounded around the stage and onto the floor like a madman to their catchy tunes. You can’t help but get drawn into dancing to the infectious beats of their music. Their incredible energy reminds me of Two Door Cinema Club in their early days, which is something even Two Door can’t manage to recapture. Delicious escapist fare.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kYAXD8R47U[/youtube]

Finding myself at a loose end, I returned to the British Music Embassy around the corner to see Mt. Wolf, playing a better attended show than the one they helpfully offered to open the previous night at Scratchouse. I’ll let you in on a trade secret unknown to bands and who have never played SXSW before: the people who come to the afternoon shows are different than the ones at your evening showcases. Being genuine and performing your best, no matter what time of day you’re playing, where or in front of how many people, is the key to your success in Austin.

Mt. Wolf, British Music Embassy, Latitude 30, Wednesday 15 March 2017

As I had predicted, Mt. Wolf’s brand of atmospheric pop worked well at Latitude 30. If you’re looking for something chill and with anthemic swells, this kind of music is for you. While their future may have initially uncertain after the departure of original lead singer Kate Sproule, Sebastian Fox’s falsetto is proving to hit the spot and indeed, in a different, better way. This was the second in a long string of appearances the band made in Austin.


Flamingods, British Music Embassy, Latitude 30, Wednesday 15 March 2017

Flamingods are originally from the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain but they call the melting pot capital of London home these days. The self-described “exotic psychedelia” group brought a truly tropical air to Latitude 30 with their colourful outfits and their instruments unusual to Western minds, theirs being a unique rhythmic experience like no other that came to Latitude 30 that week. They’re proof it doesn’t matter where your music comes from or by whom, as long as it comes from the hearts of the people who make it. What is going on back home must pain the members of Flamingods, but by playing on the world’s stage that is SXSW, they make the statement that music shouldn’t have any borders.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyxG2sIxDA0[/youtube]

Around the corner I went to the Second Play Stage at the Westin Downtown to see Magnolian. As the first-ever musical representative from Mongolia to showcase at SXSW, he had a lot riding on his shoulders. However, he needn’t have worried, as he and his backing band played to a crowd of interested listeners, including the Aussies who were slated to perform there next. As an American who outwardly looks Oriental, there’s certain prejudices that come into people’s heads automatically when they see me even before I open my mouth, so I was concerned there might be similar prejudices by the Austin crowds that came across Dulguun Bayasgalan and his band.

Magnolian, Second Play Stage, Westin Downtown, Wednesday 15 March 2017

However, and as supported by my chat with him and his band after this performance, Bayasgalan’s primary musical influences are Matt Berninger and The National, which comes across in his thoughtful baritone and songwriting. Rather than simply being a curiosity, I hope Magnolian’s visit to SXSW has led to Western connections that will further career and who knows, maybe one day he’ll get to open for the band who inspired him from thousands of miles away.


The Heart Collectors, Second Play Stage, Westin Downtown, Wednesday 15 March 2017

Following Magnolian at the Westin were Aussie acoustic folk purveyors The Heart Collectors, who I’d sadly missed at Sounds Australia’s Sound Gallery I on Tuesday morning. Dressed in comfy cotton and wearing hats that made them fit into the Austin scene perfectly, they pleasantly rattled through their set of mostly foot-stomping folk numbers utilising banjo, cello, mandolin and guitar. The band members took turns with lead vocal duties but their tight harmonies whenever their voices came together again were always beautiful. For those unfamiliar with the band’s music, a cover of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ came across not only as familiar but winsome. I included them on my list of best bets of the many Aussie acts coming out to Austin, and they didn’t disappoint.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jay7f53vmoE[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2017 Interview: Ten Tonnes

 
By on Tuesday, 21st March 2017 at 1:00 pm
 

Ten Tonnes is Hertford singer/songwriter Ethan Barnett. I met him at the Twix showcase at Bar 96 on Wednesday afternoon and asked him for an interview after his set to open the showcase. He asked me to not talk about his brother and if you’re tenacious and a Google ninja, you can certainly figure out who he’s related to. But it’s not useful in this context b/c the two brothers have very different styles. I find it encouraging that someone so young is interested in blues and rockabilly, two genres that don’t get a whole lot of attention when it comes to popular music.

Evidenced from his newest single ‘Silver Heat’ that literally dropped the day after I spoke with the young talent, this lad’s ready to rock, with his prime accompaniment to his guitar-playing a surprisingly deep, rich voice for a young man, a voice I would imagine most men would envy and would make women swoon. I can’t imagine an album will be far off, so keep your eyes peeled and ears open for more from Ten Tonnes. In the meantime, have a listen to my brief chat with him below, followed by a stream of the new single ‘Silver Heat’ directly below it.

Ten Tonnes, Bar 96, Twix showcase, Wednesday 15 March 2017

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: Midlands and East of England artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Thursday, 2nd March 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Tourists visiting the UK often overlook the Midlands and the East of England. They would rather visit London and other more ‘famous’ big cities in the country. Unfortunately and unfairly, the same kind of phenomenon happens when it comes to journalists looking for and tipping bands. They’d rather focus on London, Manchester and Glasgow: you know, the places where everywhere you turn, you find a new unsigned artist chomping at the bit for a chance. While it’s true that bands in the UK tend to gravitate towards and relocate to London to try to make a proper go of it, there’s something to be said about refusing to follow the pack, hanging tough in your hometown and being proud of where you’re from.

So today’s edition of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 will introduce you to a healthy baker’s dozen of acts from the Midlands and the East of England who will have their time in the spotlight next month in Austin. Except where noted, the summaries below were written by our Northern Irish correspondent Adam McCourt. 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.

The Midlands

BURNS – electronic / DJ / Los Angeles via Stafford
He used to call Stafford his ‘hood. But highly sought producer, DJ and electronic musician in his own right Matthew James Burns now calls Los Angeles home. It’s no wonder that his eclectic nature blending elements of pop, dance and hip-hop has drawn loads of attention, admirers and potential collaborators, but SXSW 2017 will be his moment to shine on his own. FFO: deadmau5, Kaskade (Mary Chang)

Charlie Cunningham – singer/songwriter / Bedfordshire
Charlie Cunningham lived in Spain for 2 years and has uniquely incorporated the flamenco influences that inspired him abroad into his playing, songwriting and overall sound on his music recent music. This seems to be the thing many people like about the Bedfordshire artist’s music. Following a series of EPs in successive years (‘Outside Things’ in 2014, ‘Breather’ in 2015, ’Heights’ in 2016), his debut album ‘Lines’ is out now. FFO: Bombay Bicycle Club, Chet Faker

HECK – punk / Nottingham
Straight from Nottingham, HECK have been consistent in truly bringing the noise amongst the twiddly, light-hearted, slightly emo math scene since 2009. Formerly known to the math-rock community as Baby Godzilla, Johnny Hall (vocals/rhythm guitar), Matt Reynolds (vocals/lead guitar), Paul Shelley (backing vocals/bass), Tom Marsh (Drums) now perform as HECK. Rest assured, the name change is the only thing that’s changed about them. It took a while, but the band released their debut album under the name HECK ‘Instructions’ last March 2016. FFO: Dillinger Escape Plan, The Fall of Troy, Sikth

Jacob Banks – r&b / Birmingham
R&b artist Jacob Banks incredibly shot to success during his time as an unsigned artist. He was the first-ever unsigned artist to appear on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge and won the 2012 MOBO UnSung regional competition in his hometown of Birmingham. He has accomplished a whole host of successes in such a short career: a support slot for Emilie Sande on her 2013 UK tour, the second release ‘Worthy’, from his debut EP ‘The Monologue’, featured on hit American TV show ‘Suits’, and as was championed by Zane Lowe. Banks released his debut album ‘The Paradox’ in July 2015 and signed a major label deal to Interscope Records last year. FFO: Naughty Boy, Sam Smith, Emelie Sande, Rag’n’Bone Man

Safone – grime / Birmingham
London might get the lion’s share of attention when it comes to rappers, and yes. there might be less of a critical mass of hip-hop and grime artists in the Midlands. However, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and a talented StayFresh crew that spans this part of England has ensured “as a means of releasing and uniting grime music in the area.” One of their own, SafOne (two syllables, please), was picked up by South London rapper P Money for a collaboration on the track ‘Roll Up’, though it’s easy to see in the video below who the true star is. FFO: Giggs, Skepta (Mary Chang)

Temples – psych rock / Kettering
The biggest name in this edition of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 – at least in terms of Facebook likes – is psychedelic four-piece Temples. Since their formation in 2012, the band have released one studio album, ‘Sun Structures’ in February 2014, which charted at number 7 in the UK. Following its success, they then released a remix album in November the same year, ‘Sun Restructured’. They have continued to grow by touring as both headliners and support acts and tomorrow, they release their sophomore album. FFO: The Beatles, Tame Impala

To read what we’ve written on Temples in the past here at TGTF, go here.

VITAL – hip-hop / Wolverhampton
VITAL is a rapper cut from a different cloth. Beyond what he does with this words and music, he’s also a family man and a motivational speaker, taking from his Wolverhampton and Jamaican roots for inspiration. Outside of the accolades he’s received for his music and videos and support from BBC Radio 1 and 1xtra, his approach in upholding family morals and doing what’s right – considered unusual in his genre – has led to him being recognised as a business owner and entrepreneur.

East of England

Airways – rock / Peterborough
Airways are a recently formed indie rock band, based in Peterborough. Despite the band’s short career, they have made huge strides in the UK scene, most of which came off the back of their second single ‘One Foot’ released in July 2016. It was named BBC introducing Track of the Week by BBC Radio 1 in August 2016 and gained them a slot on the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds. FFO: Royal Blood, Foals, Nothing But Thieves

Let’s Eat Grandma – experimental / pop / Norwich
Teenage best friends and Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth are two girls who refuse to keep their music in a box. ANY box. Their weird and wonderful music takes from pop, rock, hip-hop and experimental, melding into something you’ve never ever heard before. They signed to Transgressive Records and released their beguilingly unique ‘I, Gemini’ debut album last summer. While they’re so young that they won’t be able to tuck into pints in Austin, they’re sure to be one of the most intriguing acts to catch at SXSW 2017. FFO: Kate Bush, St. Vincent (Mary Chang)

To read more of TGTF’s past coverage on Let’s Eat Grandma, go here.

Mary Epworth – singer/songwriter / Norwich
Mary Epworth (pictured at top) [yes, she’s producer Paul’s sister – Ed.] meticulously blends what she claims to be West Coast psychedelia with gospel and dream pop to create quite a unique a style of music. Her debut album ‘Dream Life’ was released in June 2012 via her own label Hand of Glory. Supporting the LP, Epworth played sold out shows and a string of festivals throughout the UK. After garnering so much attention from fans and the likes of BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music and Q in the UK, it finally got a North American release in 2015, so her appearance in Austin for SXSW couldn’t come soon enough. FFO: Bright Eyes, Let’s Eat Grandma, Elbow, Florence and the Machine

To read past coverage on Mary Epworth on TGTF, go here.

Mullally – pop / soul / Great Yarmouth
Filled with life and love, Mullally crafts pop songs that are soulful and have a big heart. A voice that perfectly encapsulates the soul it needs to, he projects and encourages sing along through catchy and memorable lyrics. Maybe not as poppy as you might think, there’s a dark edge to the music, but the pop bones are certainly holding it all together. FFO: Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith (Steven Loftin)

Superglu – rock / Manningtree
“An abstract painter, a disco dancing sociologist, a bloke who lives on a houseboat and a guitarist form a band,” is what the opening line of Superglu’s bio reads on Facebook. It sounds like the start of a joke but to be clear, this garage pop outfit from Manningtree are not joking around. In just 2 years, their ‘laser precise, punk pop workouts’ have received attention from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and Radio X’s John Kennedy, performed at Latitude festival, twice and headlined the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds. FFO: Baby Strange, Spring King

To read our past coverage on Superglu here on TGTF, go here.

Ten Tonnes – singer/songwriter / Hertford
Younger brother of superstar George Ezra, Ethan Barnett aka Ten Tonnes is a singer/songwriter with the draw of a full band. A sound that is reminiscent of ‘90s Britrock, Barnett crafts heartfelt songs with powerhouse choruses you’ll soon be singing along to. The ‘Lucy’ EP is out now and ready for you to fall in love with. FFO: Bombay Bicycle Club, Catfish and the Bottlemen (Steven Loftin)

Editor Mary Chang contributed to this report.

 
 
 

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