South By Southwest

SXSW Review: The Morning Benders, March 17, Emos

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Austin – This is going to be a short review, since the band played a short show. One of the things about SXSW is that they typically run on tight schedules so when a band, say, The Morning Benders take a bit more time then expected to set up their stage, then they get less time to play. The Morning Benders followed the Rural Alberta Advantage, who played a pretty rockin show (for a noon show), so it was interesting to see how the crowd would react to their blend of slowly building epic music. Despite looking like a bunch of high school teenagers who should rather play in a Halo tournament (I’m being racist against asians..what what) this band killed it. The song Excuses was amazing live, involving a singalong, on the fly looping and ending with a massive wall of sound that would make most shoe gaze bands proud. Highly recommended.

2-cents from Gary: They were so laid back I wanted to just not take pictures. I thought his voice was clearer and obviously some notes were higher in the record, but that could be them preparing for the on-slaught of the rest of the festival/showcase. Or maybe all that smoke and evaporated beer floating around in Emo Jr’s forming ether… I came to the show late and only heard Wet cement, Promise, Excuses… arguably their best songs. Ending on a good note, as Ricky has mentioned, only strengthened the show for the 300-strong crowd. I’ll now look forward (more so than before) to their show in Toronto.

SXSW Review: Billy Bragg, Latitude, March 15

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Austin – Billy Bragg is an intense experience. He was the headliner for Monday night’s British showcase. The event was also in support of Strummerville, a charity in support for new artist. I have long heard about Billy Bragg, but really have never heard much of his music. I knew there was a lot of political themes in his music and spirit, but holy cow. Billy Bragg’s set alternated between really catchy songs and massive speeches about the economy, banker accountability, american football, people leaving in time of economic crisis and all sorts of stuff. He also drank tea throughout the set, much to the delight of the mostly ex-pat crowd (who knew and LOVED a lot of the songs). Along with some classics, Billy debut some new material (about the aforementioned bankers) and well, it was all fairly catchy (and scathing) at the same time. I admire how he can take a very simple approach to his music (using just an electric guitar) and craft so many albums and classic songs out of it, that takes a lot of talent. The show ended off with the only song I knew A New England and it of course inspired an entire crowd sing-along and was probably a cathartic experience for some in the crowd. Always a treat to see someone who would be playing much much larger venues on a regular tour in a small pub.

SXSW Review: Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly, Latitude, March 15

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panic manual get cape wear cape fly

Austin – A personal project for Sam Duckworth, Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly was also on the bill for the opening British music night at the Embassy. I had heard his first album The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager a few years back and with strong lyrical themes about teenage angst layered over some guitars. it was definitely as close to emo-indie as you can get. I had not heard much about the band since, but much to my surprise when the show started, GCWCF was just a one man act. Sam went on stage carrying an acoustic guitar and a lap top, a setup I’ve seen a many times through out my days. Looking like a dirtyier version of a young Ben Gibbard (tussled hair, big glasses), GCWCF delivered a pretty intense set of folky singer songwriter material layered over a light bouncey dance beat. I am guessing the set was a combination of songs from his first two albums as I recognized War of the Worlds. I was quite impressed with the intensity of GCWCF’s delivery and it definitely helped deliver some oomph to the show. Another highlight was his acoustic medley of Justice’s DANCE mixed into Hot Chip’s Over and Over. Acoustic medley. You heard me.

SxSW review: Anais Mitchell, March 17, Paradise

Posted on by Gary in Concerts, Everything, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Austin, TX – I first heard of Anais Mitchell when she sang at a gig with Bon Iver, a vocal trio that can do a Capella live (which I absolutely love). This being the first show, of the first day of southby, I was understandably slow. Anais was already on the stage and as I walked upstairs Paradise her voice flowed down like a small stream through some¬† Amazonian forest floor complete with moss. Unlike those of other songstress/writer, she sings in a bright yet slightly thin voice. The guitar accompaniment mostly counteracts the singing, rather than the normal tempo-setting strums of folk songs. As I listened, I noticed that her melodies and lyrics don’t lend themselves well to harmonies – and so in short, they sound like lamentation, verses to be delivered solo. But boy what lament – I realized that you don’t usually sing (pardon the pun) praises for mournful lamentations. But these are quite the delight to listen to. Case in point: Eurydice, a dead person’s song about… living husband. I can’t decipher. It would have an immediately calming effect anywhere but Baltimore maybe, where you’d likely panic because said lyrics might come true. Hadestown, which is a collaborative effort between Anais and other artists, have quite a few numbers that would fit well in a cabaret, I thought. I thought each song is distinct with quick turns, but may repeat in different verses, making it fresh to listen to each round. Without the rest of the bands, though, songs from Hadestown take on another feel. Our lady of the underground, for example, originally sounded like Persephone was singing with her cohort in hell enticing you in; but with just Anais and guitar it was like Persephone went and lost her job (that of course wasn’t meant to be derisive at all). Halfway into the set she mentioned that she just wanted to hang out – I felt bad that there weren’t that many people – 15 or so early birds. But I do believe that this was a set that many would have enjoyed – just simply sitting there and flowing downstream.