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SXSW 2017: bits and bobs plus the Killing Moon / ReverbNation / Metro showcase (part 1) – 14th March 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 28th March 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

If SXSW Music was a car, the car will have just started on Monday night, followed by a solid, chugging purring as it was running on Tuesday. The worst clashes start Wednesday, when things really are in full swing, all the venues are open and are putting on their showcases. I knew what I wanted to see on Tuesday night, but the problem was I wanted to be all over the place! Los Angeles firm Force Field PR was putting on a showcase at the outdoor stage at Cheer Up Charlie’s, and it was a bonus that they were beginning before the magic hour of 8 when most showcases begin for the evening.

Cheer Up Charlie’s is one of the more unusual venues at SXSW, as you’re watching a band perform up against what looks like a mountain of boulders that could come down raining on them (and you) at any moment. The timing of Copenhagen band Rainbrother’s set was also fortuitous, as it seems many people I knew from the UK had stopped in to see them, including Steve Lamacq of BBC 6 Music, who included them in his on the ground reporting from Tuesday night at SXSW 2017 (go to 19 minutes 30 seconds on this programme of his; it appears that I may have accidentally bothered the man when he was trying to interview Slaves outside Barracuda on 7th Street, oops). What would have struck you immediately coming into this Tuesday night show was that there was a man projected larger than life behind them. With a guitar and a microphone, I wondered what the deal was. I thought maybe it was one of these cool, new-fangled technological advances because, well, all Scandinavians had mobile phones before we did, right?

Rainbrother, Cheer Up Charlie's, Force Field PR showcase, Tuesday 14 March 2017

…and then he told us. Lead singer Bjarke Bendtsen’s artist visa had been denied. The band’s solution: before coming out to America, the band videotaped Bendtsen performing alongside the band for their entire set, so they could project his image and sound while they played without him physically being there in Austin. While Bendtsen eventually made it to Austin for the band’s last 2 shows in the Texas capital, the stark reality that strange, nonsensical decisions about artists being able to perform in America sunk in. I give full props to these Danes for soldiering on without their leader and sticking it to the man. What might have simply been a perfectly agreeable performance by a Scandinavia dream folk band became an act of defiance. As one of my best bets of Scandinavian acts coming out to Austin this year, I couldn’t have been prouder of them.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nN1H8cE7Tw[/youtube]

Suburban Living, Barracuda, felte Records and Part Time Punks showcase, Tuesday 14 March 2017

One of the great things about SXSW is the fact that unlike Canadian Music Week or CMJ, venues are actually pretty close to one another. Although I could not spend my evening solely at the felte / Part Time Punks showcase at Barracuda that I enjoyed last year, I did stop in to check out Philadelphia’s Suburban Living on the indoor stage. Bespectacled Wesley Bunch leads the band, which as a unit remind me of the sweet, twee pop tones of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. You can check out Bunch’s full album from last year ‘Almost Paradise’ on most streaming services.

Future Thieves, Scratchouse, Killing Moon / ReverbNation / Metro showcase, Tuesday 14 March 2017

When I finally made to Scratchouse for the Killing Moon / ReverbNation / Metro newspaper showcase, I was ready to be surprised by the first acts of the evening on both stages there, neither of which I had had an opportunity to research properly ahead of time. Seems like Nashvillians Future Thieves already had fans in Austin, as they played to a packed house at the indoor stage, their country-tinged pop hitting the spot. Check out their new single ‘Sucker’ below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raUArIfY8u0[/youtube]

I then went to check out the backyard stage, where a band had already started their set. Dude with a big beard…hmm… he looks familiar… Then from the stage came “We are Mt. Wolf!” Yep, that’s Sebastian Fox, all right! New York’s Henry Hall had unexpectedly pulled out of the evening, and Mt. Wolf helpfully stepped in to help the hosts fill his slot. That’s another thing that you will oddly find: there will be one or two bands that you’ll see several times during the week without even trying, as if it’s serendipity. While I’ve always imagined Mt. Wolf’s synthy goodness with combined harmonies working well in a club, their sound didn’t quite fit with the American backyard party feel.

This Be the Verse, Scratchouse, Killing Moon / ReverbNation / Metro showcase, Tuesday 14 March 2017

With the staggered start times, it wasn’t long before the next band on the indoor stage went on Tuesday night. This Be the Verse has already received high accolades and plenty of attention from Kerrang!, which should tell you something about their music immediately. Yes, This Be the Verse is loud, industrial rock music from London, and it’s not for the faint of heart. The comparison to Nine Inch Nails is well deserved. Not for everyone, but I could see our former writer John Fernandez headbanging to their music.

The Dig, Swan Dive, Tuesday 14 March 2017

I popped out briefly from Scratchouse to get a taste of something different and more importantly for this nonsmoker, some air. I ran into my friends, New York band The Dig, as they were loading into Swan Dive for their 10 o’clock show. Bass player and sometimes lead singer Emile Mosseri is now sporting the platinum blond look, and I guess he wanted a different appearance to match their new direction on most recent album ‘Bloodshot Tokyo’, released at the start of February on Roll Call Records. While band member Erick Eiser has played keyboards on their past LPs, a synthesised organ sound is prominent on ‘Bloodshot Toyko’ tracks like ‘Simple Love’, which seems to reflect more whimsy in their songwriting process. It’ll take some time for me to listen to the new LP and compare it with their past releases like ‘Electric Toys’ for me to decide if I like the new direction.

Oscar Key Sung, Swan Dive Patio, Tuesday 14 March 2017 2

Swinging around the corner, I checked out the activity at Swan Dive Patio, where Oscar Key Sung from Melbourne, Australia was setting up. R&b and electronic elements often get mixed together these days into predictable pop formulas, but this artist on my list of best bets of the Aussie acts coming out to SXSW 2017 goes weirder, with amazing result that (probably) only an electronic geek could love. Hiding under a baseball cap, Sung’s grooves and vocals leaned soulful, the tunes feeling much more accessible live than they are presented online.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: London rock artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Monday, 20th February 2017 at 11:00 am
 

As you might imagine, London leads the charge with the largest number of artists one city in the UK is sending to SXSW 2017. In this post, we introduce you to 17 acts from the capital who are experts in bashing it out on the guitar and drums and hitting you with a powerful voice. Yes, that’s right. Today’s edition of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 is all about the rock bands of London. The summaries below were written by Steven Loftin except where noted. 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.

Artificial Pleasure
If the current The 1975 movement is your thing, then you’re welcome: Artificial Pleasure are sure to be a hit for you with their funkadelic, modern and sleazy in all the right ways sound, if you don’t want to dance during recent single ‘I’ll Make It Worth Your While’, then I’m sorry, there’s no hope for you. Although they only formed last year, it’s clear the future is certainly going to be bright for this band and their shows, filled with dancing feet.

The Big Moon
At the forefront of the UK’s new indie wave, The Big Moon have heads rockin’ and rollin’ with a beautiful blending of retro sounds with a modern edge. Their debut album ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’ scheduled for release in April is up for pre-order now, and this is definitely a band you will not want to miss out on, especially at SXSW. You can read Rebecca’s review of their single ‘Formidable’ back here.

Blueprint Blue
A wonderful ‘60s vibe emanates from South London trio Blueprint Blue. With a hesitating innocence in their sound, all the way down to the wandering notes that fall out of place, it’s fun and light-hearted with no real offence.

Chelou
With a bluesy acoustic sound that builds itself around the use of atmospheric electronica, Chelou has a fresh noise that is filled with mood and melody. Think Chet Faker, with a bit more reserve and accompanied by some pretty sweet animation style videos. To also help you gauge him, consider the word ‘chelou’ is actually a French term for shady or suspicious. Talk about being on brand.

Desert Mountain Tribe
London by way of Cologne, Desert Mountain Tribe are bringing that classic ‘60s garage, psychedelic sound to the modern age. Not messing with the formula too much, they’re raucous and do what they do well. Well worth checking out if you’re a fan of the swinging throwback garage sound.

Doe
London trio Doe’s ‘wonky alt-pop’ seems to draw directly from ‘90s Britpop, characterised by forceful, yet melodic guitars and a certain level of whimsy. Four years old (pretty long for an indie band these days) and having a whole load of releases under their belt already, their wry humour should set them apart from the rest of the pack in Austin. (Mary Chang)

Feeder
A band who really need no introduction, Feeder have been around for decades. If you’ve somehow managed to miss out on their mammoth single ‘Buck Rogers’, then you have our pity and should check it out right now before you do anything else. Roaring back into life this year with new album ‘All Bright Electric’, Feeder are proving there’s life in the old dog yet.

Jennings Couch
The oddly named Jennings Couch comprises three graduates of BIMM from Bristol, Brighton and London. There’s not a whole lot for us to go on about this new band; we can’t even share a full song with you, because their Soundcloud are private. What’s not up for disagreement is frontman Lei Jennings’s strong look, somewhere in between Meat Loaf, Fabio and Captain Jack Sparrow. We doubt they’ll be bringing a sofa with them, but we’ll report in from Austin about their live show if we can. (Mary Chang)

Joey Fourr
Joey Prendergast used to be part of Tubelord, but since 2012 he’s been associated with London trio Joey Fourr. Lo-fi seems to be the word in rock these days, especially in America, so it’s not hard to imagine their tunes going over well in Austin, even if the group insist that their style of music is “WONK-POP 4 QUEER KIDS”. (Mary Chang)

Mantra
Pretty furious in sound and attitude, Mantra (pictured at top) are another one of those upcoming bands with a chip on their shoulder and representing their generation. Songs about being outcasts in the world at large, they match this with good, old-fashioned solid rock ‘n’ roll with a bit of spit.

Modern English
Formed in the late Seventies, Modern English are perhaps best known for their 1982 single ‘I Melt With You’, a song that soundtracked countless romantic moments as well as a Burger King commercial in the States. Releasing their eighth studio album ‘Take Me To The Trees’ in 2016, that was crowdfunded via PledgeMusic, they’ve proven that even with their 30+ years they still have that indie darling pull.

Saint Leonard’s Horses
Reimagining himself and taking a band with him under the guise of Saint Leonard’s Horses, London songwriter Kieran Leonard has all the tales and all the talent. Having supported everyone from Ryan Adams to The Libertines, Leonard and his Horses know how to take you on a journey and give one hell of a ride.

Shame
Shame, five teenage friends from Brixton, relish taking their shirts off onstage in the moment (hmm, Red Hot Chili Peppers much?). There isn’t much online on the band, but that’s because they’re just getting started. There’s another reason behind this: they’re being very careful about their image and making sure their sound is exactly what they want to unveil to the world. Their approach has paid off: they’ve already caught the eyes and ears of BBC Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, playing live for him in January as part of 6 Music Live. And they won’t be lying down after their close-up at SXSW 2017: they will be returning triumphantly to the UK for their support slot for California rockers Warpaint’s live dates in late March. No shame here. (Mary Chang)

Skinny Girl Diet
It feels like 2017 could be the year Skinny Girl Diet thrive. Part of the Riot Grrrl movement, Skinny Girl Diet are as DIY and hardcore you can get and won’t take any of your crap. Young and riotous with an actual message, they sure haven’t forgotten the important platform provides for social protest. [The Fader in America have already picked up wind of these gals, so don’t drag your feet. –Ed.]

Splashh
Gearing up to release their second album ‘Waiting A Lifetime’ in April, Londoner’s Splashh are heading to Texas to make a…well…a splash. Indie rock at its finest, none too offensive and easily listened to.

This Be the Verse
Time for something a little bit heavier and constructed. This Be the Verse is a new project fronted by one man that somehow has unrestrained power, yet twists it into cleverly constructed and sinister tracks. His self-titled debut album is an industrial horrorscape of brilliance and savagery.

Ultimate Painting
More English indie rock, as only we can do it. Heartbreaking, yearning and like a rainy night in Manchester, Ultimate Painting also use influences such as Velvet Underground to attack with a more reserved chagrin. Being tipped by many UK outlets, they’re one band that 2017 is looking to be a real good time for.

 
 
 

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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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