South By Southwest

SXSW Review: Billy Bragg, Latitude, March 15

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

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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

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

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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.

SXSW Review: Smokey Angle Shades, Latitude, March 17

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | 1 Comment

Austin – Every SXSW, the UK bring over a bunch of bands in order to introduce them to America. Monday night was the start of the UK night series at Latitude. It was a miserable rainy night in Austin, which I guess all the Ex-pats would dub “a pretty normal night in England”. Having been to all sorts of drunken debacle the previous few nights, I decide a nice night in one spot listening to music and not talking to anyone would be ideal. The night started off with a band called Smokey Angle Shades, a London based band featuring also Irish and German band members. I woulda called the band Sauerkraut, Spaghetti and Sausages..but that’s why I’m here and they are there.

I have never heard of this band before tonight and they immediately began to make a mark, mainly because they all looked a bit hippie-ish and were all wearing hats. Not the dapper English hats that Pete Doherty rocks, but country-ish hats. i would even say lead vocalist Fred had some inspiration from one Jack Sparrow. The band performed a 40 minute set consisting of harmonizing vocals with a sound reminiscent of Fleet Foxes/My Morning Jacket/Early Kings of Leons in that it sounds a bit like countryish rock. You know, the kind of stuff people with beards would listen to.

All in all, an enjoyable set. Harmonizing vocals are always nice, especially when it’s done properly and I liked the vocals/country rock vibe. Especially at a music festival in Texas.