SxSW Review: SYML, Low, March 13, St. David’s Sanctuary

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

SYML, March 13 2018

After overcoming some sound interference troubles, Brian Fennell (formerly of the indie rock band Barcelona) quickly began in the church pulpit as SYML, which means simple in Welsh. Just as the name implied, it would turn out to be a straightforward singer-songwriter concert that has come to be St. David’s Sanctuary’s signature.

Over the years, it has also become clear that if you can’t sing, St. David’s is not a place to showcase your talents. SYML is, fortunately, not in that latter category. While I find it a bit distracting to have the cello and violin backing to his one man show, there was little hestitation in his delivery for passages. That said, the songwriting itself isn’t always clearly original. It isn’t hard to see that the opening of “Ghosts” neatly paraphrased Coldplay’s “In My Place.” While refreshing, his “Mr. Sandman” cover was not just a little creepy, and self-admittedly so. The lyrics were twisted into a lament about loneliness that might make Tim Burton jump. Even with all its idiosyncracies, this is still a first-rate set, ending with the promotional piece “Where’s My Love.” I would recommend the above tracks as well as “Wildfire.”

If the previous set was “simple”, Low’s performance is its quantum entangled pair. How can we put more symbolism into a show? “I know! Let’s have two stern-faced, practicing Mormons sing nearly monotonic verses against a backdrop of ascending drum beats for 40 minutes in a dimly lit church, and conspicuously display their drinking of red soda and chomping of apples. That way, no one will think we were being serious!”

To be fair, Low has had a long career of minimalist excellence. It’s really not surprising that they managed to make the seemingly simple and monotonic music beautiful. And to be honest, it was a completely different experience if you were willing to stay the course. Problem was, it did not engender that will in most of the audience on this night. If St. David’s Sanctuary monitored their doors, they would have registered the exodus in between every track played. It was rare to see a concert hemorrhage audience throughout. I think a masochist mindset definitely came to the fore – and many just wanted to derive some type of reward having stayed with the performance. And as if they understood implicitly, Low did eventually open up the format for a number of more flowing pieces.

As for me, I felt like I had been party to some ritual to which I did not submit, but perhaps I did sign up for it. After all, SxSW is about getting a dose of the weird.

Low, March 13, 2018

SXSW Preview: British Music Embassy (Latitude 30)

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment


Having been to SXSW 9 times now, you start to notice certain showcases as always being awesome. The British Music Embassy is one of them. Taking residence at Latitude 30, the BME showcases bands new and old, and despite what you think, it broadcasts quite the diverse showcase. Usually each area of Britain takes up a day or nite and you see a wide ranging group of musical acts.

Bascially you are guaranteed a good day or night of music. No lie, when my buddy visited Austin for one night during SXSW and he didn’t have a media pass, I told him to just go to BME and pay 10 bucks and stay the night there because it was the best bet for solid music.

Off the top of my head, I can think of some great shows I have seen there, including

Kate Tempest
Tim Wheeler (of Ash)
Late of the Pier
Sundara Kharma (why aren’t they big?)
Billy Bragg
Django Django

and I’m not even going to talk about the bands I have missed there which in recent years include

Glass Animals
Young Fathers
Wolf Alice

etc. You get the point, this shit’s gonna be good

Anyways, go here and check out this years lineups

Here are some acts I’m excited about this year:

Gaz Coombes
Frank Turner
Girl Ray

It’s gonna be good. See you there.

SXSW Song of the Day: Mega Ran – Splash Woman

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment


By no means a new act, Mega Ran is known as a nerdcore rapper and frankly it’s new to me, dammit!

I’m not sure what nerdcore is but this track clearly takes samples from 8 bit video game sounds and that’s caught my ear. Don’t let the nerdy aspirations fool you, this track is no joke. The dude releases a lot of records every year and it definitely skews towards nerdy stuff. Like he has an album called Mat Mania which is about wrestling. Say what you want, but its a departure from most rap tracks, which is refreshing.

Mega Ran plays Karma Lounge on March 17.

Concert Review: The 9 Singer-Songwriter Showcase, February 9, Black Cat

Posted on by Celeste in Everything | 1 Comment


Friday night at Black Cat was a celebration of local artists. The passion project of DC singer-songwriter and neo-folk artist Justin Trawick, The 9 singer-songwriter series brings together nine (which only makes sense) DC artists of different musical styles to delight and dazzle the crowd.

Featuring Nardo Lilly, Elena and Los Fulanos, Josh RD, Rock Creek Kings, Ginny Hill Project, Sol Roots, Sarah Jane Burgess, Andres Gallego, and organizer Justin Trawick, the night was full of spur of the moment collaborations, audience sing-a-longs, and go-proing (by one enthusiastic fan/friend). Every artist started the night with two songs and ended with a final song as an encore. Josh RD rocked it with a punk/folk song about ending a poisonous relationship (which he sang with a huge, infectious smile), Ginny Hill twanged out a lovely country piece about falling in love with a person, which makes you fall in love with a place (so true), and Sarah Jane Burgess won the night with a laugh out loud funny song about a boy breaking her heart when he left his Columbia Heights apartment for a house in Ballston of all places (why????).

If you want to experience local music and you have a taste for diverse styles and community flavor check it out!

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