South By Southwest

SXSW Review: Codeine Velvet Club, The Parish, March 17

Posted on by Alli in South By Southwest | 1 Comment

codeine velvet club

Continuing the evening of Scottish music at the Parish was Codeine Velvet Club, a group formed by singer Jon Lawler aka Jon Fratelli of .. wait for it.. The Fratellis. Their self-titled album came out in December 2008 in the UK and is slated for release next month on Dangerbird here in the states.

This band is pretty well put together; all male members in classy suits, and the group contains a horn section. Their sound would easily fit in at a swanky club scene from a 1940’s movie. Very smooth but still rockin’ at the same time. Female singer and co-writer Lou Hickey reminded me of Dita Von Teese and had a strong stage presence whenever she sang solo. Lawler said work has begun on a second album and it should be interesting to hear more of this band.

codeine velvet club

SXSW Review: Marina & The Diamonds, March 18, Lamberts

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Everything, South By Southwest | 1 Comment

panic manual marina and the diamonds

Austin – Shows like Marina & The Diamonds on Thursday nights are the reason why SXSW is so damn fun. Playing in front of a packed crowd on the second floor of the bbq restaurant Lamberts, Marina Lambrini Diamandis absolutely enlighten and enthralled everyone with her show. It was completely awesome.

For some introduction, Marina and The Diamonds is basically Marina, a 25 year old Greek-Welsh singer songwriter and her backing band. They play extremely catchy, dare I say, anthem-ish songs that range from pop ballads to electro-pop numbers. Her album The Family Jewels will be out in the US in May.

Wearing a Planet Hollywood jumpsuit, Marina and the Diamonds took the stage after a lengthy soundcheck session and proceeded to deliver one of the best shows I’ve seen at SXSW. This girl can absolutely sing. She hit all her notes and delivered each song with great authority…yet there was a lot of playfulness to her stage presence. She would dance, pose, wink at people and just looked like she was having a blast. As a result, everyone was also having a blast. The setlist was what you expected, a collection of songs off her EPs and LPs, including sing-alongs to many of her hits including I Am Not A Robot and Hollywood. I was surprised how much better the songs sounded better live then on album, which is always a great sign.

What a show.

Marina and the Diamonds will be playing Fader Fort today and Perez Hilton’s party tomorrow.

SXSW review: Fanfarlo, March 17/18, Galaxy Room

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

Austin, TX – You go to some bands’ live performance because you like their theatrics, presence, or the way they command the crowd. These are the typical bands you seek out in SXSW, and as a photographer I guess I live for those bands, waiting for their sudden knee-jerk reaction as boons. And then, there are bands whose music so glaringly trumps anything else they do that listening becomes the priority. And if each SXSW visit you have such an experience, you count yourself lucky. Well, I think I have just had such a moment (and it doesn’t mean that everything else has to be bad). Fanfarlo, of London, first came onto my radar last year with the quirky Harald T. Wilkins. Yes that is the name of the song. Somewhere in Guardian UK’s review of their show last year, it was mentioned that a part of the song sounded like it’s played backward. So, I went and played the song backward. I don’t think I’ve tried that many times, yet every other time the number became jumbled beyond recognition. Try it yourself. It’s a little unnerving that Wilkins is enjoyable in reverse… albeit in a weird way still sounding very similar.

That, obviously wasn’t why I now seem to worship them like Pagan idols – although I take no responsibility as a false prophet if you do reverse every song and come up frustrated (something for all musicians to contemplate now… making records that sound good both ways). Their first set in Austin this year would have left you a godless heathen, anyway. Starting with The walls are coming down, rushing to Wilkins and finishing with Luna barely 30 min after trying to work out the sound systems, that set was not particularly spectacular. The band looked tired as well (although it may also have been the intentionally 80s costumes). I think at one point the violin/mandolin actually blurted that she felt like she was modeling with all those cameras in her face.

So I went to see them again for a fair assessment. Galaxy room was back-lit by the afternoon sun, and the red walls made for a much more interesting set than the earlier one. I think they started with a duet version of I’m a pilot, and ran down their entire album except If it is growing and Good morning midnight. Surprises at the live shows are well choreographed. A wall of sound that followed Fire escape served as transition into The walls are coming down. I can only imagine that the transition to Wilkins, one entire bar sang by the whole band, has no relation to the mothership and air pressure on Earth (you know, 1 bar?) Yeah sorry that’s a horrible joke. Vocal was accurate if somewhat buried, but that tends to happen in live shows so there’s no big complaint. The highlight in their record, for me, is the trumpet. Smart and frequent uses of it’s expansive sound carried each section of a melody to the next, reminds me a little of Camera Obscura, and it’s one that I wish people might use more. Btw, some of the identification of the songs might be off. Because I listened to the record extensively, the songs had totally internalized into one gigantic Fanfarlo label. Which seems to be what others at the concert experienced – general merry-making complete with dancing, nodding/tapping, and the girls beside me were swaying even while sitting on the marble counter, feet off the ground. And when it’s all said and done, the dancing mob gave a orchestra/ballet type applause, that lasted ~ 30 seconds. I’d hate to be that Paste party MC who must be the party-pooper. The take-home message if you’ve skipped all the rambling above: go and listen to them. Either reverse or the normal way – I’m sure you’ll start to skip along the road singing.

SXSW Review: Unicorn Kid, The Parish, March 17

Posted on by Alli in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

unicorn kid

Austin – Yes, this is the best photo of the batch I took of Unicorn Kid.

This guy comes to us as part of the “Showcasing Scotland” lineup, but I felt like he deserved his own post. His music can apparently be described as chip music – basically, music that sounds like it belongs in video games with a super dance-y feel. Read up on that here. Unicorn Kid is otherwise known as Oliver Sabin, a barely 18 year old Scot with floppy ears and a habit of dancing as much or more than the people in the crowd. As he finished up, I kept hearing the word “genius” being spoken in the crowd. Don’t miss him if he ever comes to your town – I think it’s going to be hard to find another show that was as much fun as this.