Another year, another SXSW completed. It doesn't get any easier, but with age comes wisdom, and after over 15 years of attending, we are starting to figure it out. How many more years we will be attending has yet to be determined but for now, here is our SXSW 2019 .......
Monday we arrive early afternoon to warm temperatures, a rather long music badge line, but once acquired, our hotel room is ready and off we go to enjoy the city. Early morning flights now require us to take it a little easy on the first day as exhaustion tends to play a role quickly. We decide not to jump right into shows but rather, go for a late lunch/early dinner and then head out.
We get some energy after eating and decide to take a chance and head out to the first day show of the week. Its at the Mohawk, a solid venue that includes 2 stages and we walk right in to watch Black Belt Eagle Scout. We only catch a few songs but Katherine Paul's vocals and guitar work are solid. She sings about loss and it is clear she has plenty to say. As part of an indigenous community..she has seen much.
Next up on the inside stage is the band Deeper. The inside stage at the Mohawk is problematic as it is such a small room it takes no time to completely fill in so I stand at the back at watch/listen. Its solid indie rock/post punk and its loud but no match for what was about to play out on the main stage outside.
Black Midi is up next outside. I have no clue how to describe these kids. There is so little information about them and such a buzz about them in the press, I had to see them and I am still confused a week later. This group of four youngsters hit the stage with an abrasively loud Kacey Musgraves sample playing and launch into a hearing protection mandatary set of noise. Its chaotic guitar and solid drumming and two vocalists who manage to "sing" without me being able to decipher a single word. I would suggest that if you are even remotely interested in these guys, go and see them and then let me know what they are...and if they are as good as the press suggests. I feel like I am a bit out of my league with these boys.
To clear our heads after this...we head out to prepare for the evenings plans. We head to Rainey Street and more supplies (beer) and head to our first showcase of the evening
First up at the Augustine bar is Novo Amor. What a lovely Welsh band this is. Falsettos and harmonies, some violin and keys, tempo changes and plenty of changes in intensity makes this a wonderful group to sit back and listen to..
Up next is Angie McMahon. A fiery Aussie who reminds me of Chrissie Hynde at times. Her voice is stunning and has quite the warble and her little band really produce some magnificent songs. Another band who switch up tempos and intensity and are carried by one of the best voices I have every heard. It is no surprise when the festival is over that Angie is voted as one of the 3 best performers over the festival, if you get the chance, please go and take a listen, you will not be disappointed.
It is now time to attempt to get into the British Embassy showcase. It seems early in the week this will be more difficult as all the other Badge holders (not only music but interactive, film, interactive) are allowed in and it's full. We chose to move on and check out some other showcases. We move around the block to the EU party featuring the band Lowly. This 5 piece Danish band produce some special dream pop that sound quite rich when played live. Almost shoegaze at times, it is quite enjoyable.
Back to the Brit Embassy and we are able to catch some of the Anteros set while waiting outside to get in. Its another Dream pop band, this one from London, and it sure gets people inside bouncing around. They certainly look and sound fun from outside and the 4 piece are led by a rather dynamic and energetic young singer. She moves around a lot and sings with ease as they produce some rather uplifting pop.
At the end of the set the crowd moves on and I am able to get inside for the remainder of the night.
First up is WhenYoung another smooth and catchy pop punk band. This 3 piece is led by yet another wonderful female lead on bass and this Irish band produce some great soaring sing a longs. Having listened to this band a few times in advance, I can safely say that they are much more powerful live..its great to see where these songs go. Its noisy and melodic and quite catchy and fun to watch.
Thyla is up next. This is a fascinating band from Brighton and one even louder. They kick it up a notch and my chest is banging with the pounding of the Bass ...and yet another absolutely sweet voice. Its a dream pop/punk mix that throws some aggressive energy into the crowd and its starting to kick off at this showcase. There is no safe spot to stand in the venue anymore..while its fun to watch I am almost too tired to keep up with it all.
Sports Team is up next and these kids bring some indie pop theatre to the stage. I move to my safe spot which is actually outside the venue (big open windows out front which allows you to enjoy the show, listen to the music and...stay away from the clearly drunk crowd ) and I do enjoy their songs about Tesco and other classic English themes. There is a lot of them on stage and hard to keep track of (think 6 of them) Its kinda brit pop with an edge and plenty of humour and its enjoyable from where I was standing.