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SXSW 2017: a taste of Norway and the KCRW showcase at Elysium (Wednesday night, part 1) – 15th March 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 29th March 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

Inevitably, there’s going to be at least one evening at SXSW where things don’t really go to plan for you and you want to rip your hair out. You can have the best, most beautiful, seemingly airtight schedule ever created. And then bands miss shows, sets run horribly late due to technical difficulties and other things happen that you can do absolutely nothing about. I would guess Carrie would say Friday night was her moment of disaster at SXSW 2017, but it came 2 nights earlier for me. After watching The Heart Collectors at the Westin on E. 5th Street, I went on to my next stop, realising I wouldn’t have time to stop and eat a proper meal. Cue an editor’s surreptitious nibbles of a granola bar under the cover of darkness in clubs…

Something you forget after a year of being away from Austin: that monster of a hill up towards the Omni Hotel and St. David’s Historic Sanctuary. However, no hill was going to thwart me! I fixed my gaze on cocktail bar CU29, an oasis of tranquility on Brazos Street, amazingly not far at all from the nightly crazy going on 6th Street. Due to a delay in forcing non-SXSW patrons to vacate the club, first band of the night Tuvaband would begin late. The Oslo act is named after singer Norwegian songwriter Tuva Hellum Marschauser, and only half of Tuvaband was actually showcasing.


Tuvaband, CU29, Wednesday 15 March 2017

Suffering a similar setback to fellow Scandinavians Rainbrother, Tuva’s musical partner British musician Simon Would had visa problems and was denied entry into the U.S. Thankfully, their manager Ruben Nesse stepped in for Would and with minimal time to practice. Further, from what I understand from this Facebook post, their usual accompanist on piano Signe Eide wasn’t able to make it easier, leading Tuva to invite a random piano player from New York to join her performance. He was smiling and nodding his head during the set, so I think he was pleased to be asked to assist. It was just like Tuvaband’s newest single ‘Everything We Do is Wrong’ had come to life. I felt so bad for them, as CU29 seemed to have been the perfect backdrop for their dreamy pop. As their live performance was compromised by actions beyond their control, I encourage you to watch the video for their new single below to get an idea of what they’re supposed to sound like.

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

You need to take care on your way to the stage at Elysium. The venue has a weird series of steps that I’ve tripped over while completely sober and carrying equipment. There are also sofas placed oddly near the front door, exactly where you would not expect them to be. God help anyone who is in any stage of inebriation in this place. When I arrived, I was expecting the showcase being put on by Los Angeles radio station KCRW to be on their first changeover between the first and second acts. So I was surprised to see Gabriel Garzón-Montano on stage with his keyboards and accompanied by a drummer.


Gabriel Garzon Montano, KCRW showcase, Elysium, Wednesday 15 March 2017

I had to research the Brooklyn soul singer’s background after I saw him play: he was plucked out of musical obscurity by Canadian rapper Drake, who sampled a soulful hook of a song from an EP of his in 2012. His primary onstage gimmick is red makeup applied squarely over his right eyelid. I’m not sure if this is supposed to mean something, but it’s a memorable look. Like I said, I didn’t know anything about him when I saw him perform, but it was clear he had quite a few devoted – and loudly vocal – fans cheering him on.

Following Garzón-Montano were London via Lancashire electro soul pop duo Aquilo, my primary reason for risking the health of my limbs at Elysium. Equipment issues plagued the duo and their backing band, further delaying the KCRW showcase schedule. Aquilo, playing their second of four shows at SXSW 2017, were entirely worth the wait, sounding peerless as they ran through a blindingly beautiful series of songs from their debut album ‘Silhouettes’, which was released in January. If you’re sceptical, read my review of the LP here.


Aquilo, KCRW showcase, Elysium, Wednesday 15 March 2017, 2

Up against the stage, grooving to the music, blissfully unaware (well, almost) that I was the only person in the room singing along to the boppy ‘You Won’t Know Where You Stand’ and the achingly gorgeous ‘Silhouette’, among others. I was in heaven. As much as I detest the layout of Elysium – did I mention if you’re down the front, you’re basically looking up the musicians’ noses? – I was in heaven. The lighting highlighted the duo’s photogenic qualities, making it feel less of a club show and more like as if we were at a fancy tv studio taping. Nice one.


Aquilo, KCRW showcase, Elysium, Wednesday 15 March 2017

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: best bets of Scandinavian artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Tuesday, 28th February 2017 at 11:00 am
 

There’s an embarrassment of riches in the form of the Scandinavian artists scheduled to descend on SXSW 2017 next month. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland collectively will be sending over 30 acts to Austin, an amazing critical mass of acts for a combined population on the same order of the number of people in the state of Texas. Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised about the musicians from a region known for their long winters? You know what they say about Manchester and Seattle bands: when the weather outside is awful, more time indoors to perfect your art, am I right?

There are some established, or at least famous names that will be familiar to most readers. Prolific Danish singer/songwriter Agnes Obel, who now calls Berlin home, released her latest album ‘Citizen of Glass’ last autumn and will be making the trip to Austin. You can read my review of her latest single ‘Stretch Your Eyes’ here. No strangers to either controversy or media attention for their previous provocative moniker, Norwegian feminist-leaning pop punks Sløtface are sure to be another hot ticket during the week, having already laid waste to the UK on their own short headline tour earlier this month. Jakob Bjørn-Hansen, better known as Norwegian electronic artist and producer Bearson, has been poking around for a few years now with his own brand of tropical house, as well as his remix talents.

Shows by Swedish alt-pop band Simian Ghost, who already have three albums to their name and are working on their fourth, are sure to attract plenty of punters. The EP-only synthpop band Kite have enjoyed enormous success in their home country of Sweden and graced industrial nights around the world. Satellite Stories are the true epitome of the Nordic success story, as in Europe, they’re the best known indie band from Finland.

In today’s installment of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017, I introduce you to the acts I think are the best representatives of their part of the world. 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. As of today’s writing, we know of Music Norway’s plans to put on a Sounds from Norway showcase on Thursday 16 March at Lucille on Rainey Street, if that floats your boat.

Anna von Hausswolf – goth pop / rock / Gothenburg, Sweden
Is the world ready for a Swedish Kate Bush? Too late, she’s already here. With her operatic, far-reaching vocals and the shadowy but pounding chords of her organ, the sound of Anna von Hausswolf and her band is arresting. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those looking for something a bit darker in a sunny clime like Austin’s, step into these shadows.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uABaTw73PFU[/youtube]

Ask Carol – punk / Oslo
With a name that sounds more like the title of an advice column than the hard rock act they are, Ask Carol make an emphatic case, urging listeners to be assertive. Influenced by acts as disparate as Wilco to Lauryn Hill, but bolstered by the hard edginess of The Clash and Led Zeppelin, they’ll be a fun, high octane proposition live.

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

Chain Wallet – pop / rock / Bergen, Norway
Stian Iversen, Christian Line and Frode Boris are the principal members of Chain Wallet (pictured at top), occupying that nebulous area between lo-fi psych, dream pop and dance. Already drawing comparisons to Twin Shadow and DIIV, the lightness of their sound is sure to go over well among the chill crowds at SXSW.

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

CHINAH – pop / r&b / electronic / Copenhagen
Fine Glindvad fronts CHINAH, a Copenhagen trio specialising in that now-popular smooth blend of minimalist beat, upbeat guitar-filled, soulful xx-type sound. Hard to believe that in their current incarnation where they sound reminiscent of London Grammar that they were previously a folk outfit.

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

Darling West – folk / Oslo
We’re not taking anything away from them, but it’s time to take those blinders off that the only folks from the Nordic countries who can do country well are First Aid Kit. Darling West, a tight-knit trio led by the dulcet tones of Mari Sandvær Kreken, are about to get the Soderburg sisters a run for their money. Simple, yet stunning harmonies and instrumentation.

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

One Week Wonder – electronic / dream pop / Reykjavik
One Week Wonder comprises keyboardists Árni Guðjónsson and Magnús Benedikt Sigurðsson and Helgi Kristjánsson on drums. Despite a clear leaning towards today’s technology in their choice of instruments, Guðjónsson says he favours what he considers the more natural way of recording on tape, which is unusual for electronic artists. The surprising result: a remarkably smoother, less cluttered recording and a gorgeous, unparalleled atmosphere.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws6mArTzfuU[/youtube]

Rainbrother – folk rock / Copenhagen
While we’re waiting on the supposed return of Fleet Foxes, we can occupy ourselves with Danes Rainbrother, who just released their debut album at the start of February. On ‘Tales from the Drought’, Bjarke Bendtsen’s latest rock group conjure up the folky, hazy side of Bon Iver with the lonesome mountain sound of Robin Pecknold’s hugely popular band. Why bother waiting on either of them to release new material if you can catch Rainbrother in the flesh in Austin?

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6PGkRHS720[/youtube]

Tuvaband – lo-fi / dream pop / singer/songwriter / Oslo, Norway
Can SXSW take another lo-fi band? Of course. Named for singer/songwriter Tuva Hellum Marschhäuser, the ethereal, dream pop quality of Tuvaband is sure to win you over. And forget about those unwashed lo-fi dudes with long hair…

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tXswSWalpM[/youtube]

 
 
 

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