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SXSW 2017: Monday night variety, including Americana at the Swan Dive, pop at The Gatsby and rock at the British Music Embassy – 13th March 2017

 
By on Monday, 3rd April 2017 at 5:00 pm
 

After our arrival in Austin on Monday afternoon, Mary and I officially began our music festival adventures at SXSW 2017 on Monday night at the Swan Dive, which played host to a showcase of alt-country and Americana artists. We only stayed long enough to see one band, but it turned out to be a fortuitous choice, as the first act on the evening’s bill was outstanding Finnish duo Tuomo & Markus. (Mary also wrote about them in this previous SXSW 2017 review post.

Tuomo and Markus internal

Tuomo Prättälä and Markus Nordenstreng are each career musicians in their own right, but they came together recently at Wavelab Studio in my own adopted home of Tucson, AZ to record an album of contemporary Americana, with contributions from well-known friends, including members of Wilco, Calexico and The Jayhawks. Though the album, titled ‘Dead Circles’, has yet to be released outside of Scandinavia (its North American and European release is due later this year), I found out later in the week that Rolling Stone contributor David Fricke had already named it to his list of ‘New Albums from the Best of SXSW 2017’.

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Following Tuomo & Markus’ set, Mary and I set out in separate directions (you can read her Monday evening review here). I headed to The Gatsby, which was playing host to the heavily-hyped and well-attended Pandora showcase. After a brief wait in the queue, I got inside just in time to see another duo act, FRENSHIP, whom I’d already encountered in my preview of Los Angeles bands at SXSW 2017. James Sunderland and Brett Hite’s high energy blend of organic songwriting with electronic dance music is immediately captivating, and their anthemic tracks ‘1000 Nights’ and ‘Capsize’ fit perfectly on the large, brightly-lit stage at The Gatsby. You can hear more about FRENSHIP’s Monday night set in my post-performance interview with them right back here.

"chk

The next act on the Pandora stage was Brooklyn-based dance pop band !!! (aka chk chk chk, if you want to say it out loud). They made an entrance worthy of all three exclamation points, and proceeded to shimmy and shake through a set that was equal parts glitz and Jazzercise. Their new album ‘Shake the Shudder’ is due out on the 19th of May, and if you love to dance, you’ll want to catch them on tour this summer: they already have dates scheduled in the UK and at home here in America.

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I’m not sure how I missed L.A. rock band Lo Moon in my aforementioned preview, but I was pleasantly surprised by their intense and atmospheric set on the Pandora stage. The video for their latest single ‘Loveless’ came out just after SXSW, and the drawn out anticipation of its slowly unfolding drama is a fair representation of their music, though they do make a much more powerful impact in live performance.

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Before the first night of SXSW could officially close, I naturally had to pay a visit to the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30. The last two bands on the DIY + TicketWeb showcase that evening were Manchester-based False Advertising and Exeter trio Muncie Girls. Both bands fall into the rock category, but False Advertisting were more on the fuzzy, grunge end of the continuum, while Muncie Girls have a brighter, cleaner sound. False Advertising do an interesting lead vocal/drums switch between Jen Hingley and Chris Warr, but as I was never able to see Warr’s face beyond his hair when he was singing, I think I’d have to say that I prefer Hingley in the forefront. Fellow frontwoman Lande Hekt of Muncie Girls had a more immediately engaging stage presence, though her pleasant smile was rather ironic, given the subversive lyrics behind her band’s catchy punk sound.

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Monday night at SXSW 2017 was a grab-bag of different bands and different sounds, but it was only the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned to TGTF for my further accounts from the week in Austin, and if you haven’t been able to keep up with Mary’s fast-paced coverage of events, you can find everything collected right back here.

 

SXSW 2017: introduction to our coverage, and Monday night with unlikely Americana and at the National Geographic party at Vulcan Gas Company – 13th March 2017

 
By on Monday, 27th March 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

We spend a lot of time in the months and weeks previewing SXSW. But I can say with certainty that every year when we’re actually out in Austin for the week, it seems to go by in a flash. This year, I saw more artists than ever: 70. So strap yourself in for quite a few posts about my experiences at SXSW 2017, along with Carrie’s.

The weather as a bit chilly the first few nights this year, requiring me to bring a coat along. But unlike the last 2 years, we weren’t hit by a monsoon of a sideways thunderstorm or saw performances halted by dangerous lightning during the week. Blue skies smiled on us all at SXSW 2017. I was grateful, as so many new and old friends had come out here for some good weather and plenty of sun, so I was glad this year we were able to provide both in large amounts. I think, too, this year more Brits followed our recommendations with the suncream, though from what I hear from Carrie, the Irish made the mistake – again – not to slather up the SPF for the Generator NI boat ride on Tuesday. But I’ll let Carrie fill you in on that show.

Tuomo & Markus, Swan Dive, Monday 13 March 2017

After a quick dinner and cocktails at Second Bar and Kitchen, Carrie and I went on to our first show of the evening at Swan Dive. If you think it’s unlikely to hear good Americana coming out of Finland, Tuomo & Markus are here to prove you wrong. Unless you heard them talking between songs, you’d have no real way of someone playing piano (Tuomo) or well-picked guitar (Markus) and their lovely harmonies from someone from our own country. Considering how we have been ‘marked’ for years for the way our politics have shaped the rest of the world and in a negative way, it’s nice to witness firsthand that our musical influences that are exported out to the rest of the world have a positive effect that leads to beautiful art.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjT1vMk7zDM[/youtube]

This Monday was different than it had been for me in previous years, as I had been put on a guestlist to a very exclusive event (yes, ooh). The legendary scientific and natural sciences-promoting publication National Geographic had made their home at the Vulcan Gas Company for several days during SXSW 2017 as part of the Interactive third of things, and Monday night was when they’d be hosting a special party to celebrate all they’d accomplished. I wondered immediately upon arriving why I had eaten dinner before, as I was overwhelmed by a dizzying array of food, open bar and complimentary dessert from the famous Voodoo Doughnut’s outpost further west on 6th Street.

Hamish Anderson National Geographic, Vulcan Gas Company, Monday 13 March 2017

But as you might imagine, though, I was there for a very special musician who has had a ‘Hold on Me’ and I was excited to see live. On his second trip out to SXSW, Australian blues rocker Hamish Anderson was the entertainment for the evening. He said to me during an interview on Saturday afternoon outside B.D. Riley’s that corporate gigs are “always a bit weird” because you know you’re not the focus of the attention at the event. Despite this, he was the consummate professional, transporting us to a down and dirty club where his kind of rough around the edges rock normally resides. Sounds Australia sent out so many electronic artists this year that they needed to have a separate day of the Aussie BBQ to accommodate them, but when you’re stood in front of Hamish Anderson wailing away on his guitar, you soon forget – and maybe even for a moment, loathe – anyone who has to lean on electronics and Macbook for crutches during live performances. The Melbournian has a debut album out now, ‘Trouble’, that I highly recommend. As much as I wanted to partake on the free donuts, tacos and macaroni and cheese (I have a wheat allergy, sob!), the British Music Embassy showcase for that night beckoned.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bkMI3DOhho[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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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