SXSW Review: Ellie Goulding, Bat Bar, March 16

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

Austin – I have a soft spot for pop music, especially if it’s well made pop music. Hailing from England, Ellie Goulding makes what I consider to be well made pop music. A large star back home, Ellie Goulding has already achieved pop star status with a #1 album with her debut album Lights / Bright Lights, a smash hit Christmas single with a cover of Elton John’s Your Song and the top spot in “breakthrough act of 2010″ in BBC’s annual poll of music critics. With all that in mind, this spring Ellie Goulding will try the daunting task of breaking America, something that only Florence and the Machine has done in recent years. Like many artist trying to break through in this country, she will do that by playing a host of shows at SXSW. I was at her first one in the Bar Bar on Wednesday night.

It became pretty apparent early on that Ellie Goulding has kinda made a breakthrough in America already. The Bat Bar was packed with people by the time her set was about to begin, and it wasn’t just interested SXSW types, there was a swarm of girls who must have heard about this show and paid to get inside. Dressed in a cut off Wolf shirt with short (and I mean short) shorts, the petite Ellie Goulding took the stage shortly after midnight. Backed by a band that included a drummer, two multi-instrumentalist, the English singer played a hits filled set from her debut album. Not just content with dancing to her own music, Ellie showed off her acoustic guitar chops on some tracks, and it was pretty impressive. As the concert progressed, it became pretty apparent that I had been listening to the album more then I expected, as I knew each tune. However, I did not know each tune as much as the army of girls in the crowd, all singing happily along to tracks like Guns and Horses, Under the Sheets and Every Time You Go. They were also very aggressive in attempting to get better viewing positions at the show

Armed with a nice voice, strong acoustic guitar meets electro beat pop music and a charismatic stage presence (including a few unexpected f-bombs in her banter), Ellie Goulding went a long way in charming the SXSW crowd. Closing the set with a rousing edition of the mega hit single Starry Eyed (which seemingly included a lap-dance dance routine), the British singer songwriter left the crowd wanting more. A good start on the shores of America.

Ellie Goulding – Starry Eyed by Interscope Records

SXSW Interactive Music – Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Chromeo, Yeasayer, Head and the Heart

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | 1 Comment

Austin – As many of you know, I was fortunate enough to go to South By Southwest for both interactive and Music. What many of you might not know is that a lot of musical acts get hired to play at parties during the interactive part. Here’s a quick rundown of the few acts I saw.

Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Venue 222, March 11

Hailing from Brooklyn, Pains of Being Pure at Heart played the Sapient Nitro opening party. with the impending release of their new record Belong, the Brooklyn band laid on an aural assault on unsuspecting ears with their heavy wall of sound vibe. Kip Berman’s vocals was a bit muffled and hidden behind the immensely loud guitars. Still, I could still make out some of those charming melodies that made their first record so good. I was glad they were able to played Come Saturday before one of the amplifiers caught on fire and the show abruptly ended.

Chromeo

March 13, Some Warehouse

I think it’s impossible for Chromeo to put on a bad show, or even an average show. Their music is too much fun and too much dancing for anything but a good time to occur. Playing to a decent size crowd, the Montreal duo played select tracks off their two 80s retro disco albums amidst a lovely laser light show. Much to the crowds delight, hits like Tenderoni, Bonafied Loving, Night by Night and Fancy Footwork were played. People were dancing, drinking and having a blast. See them if you can.

Head and the Heart, Yeasayer

Moody Theatre, March 14

The Moody Theatre might be the most beautiful venue I’ve been to. It is ahosolutely gorgeous. Under some astounding light projections, current buzz band Head and the Heart played some delightful folk rock songs that made me think of early Snow Patrol. Yeasayer took to the stage shortly before or after my eight or ninth drink. I remember they played ONE. They then played some tracks here, some tracks there. I think they sounded good. I have to say, Microsoft was only serving hard liquor at the party, and I just can’t say no. Hence, I don’t really remember that part of the show.

Other bands that played during SXSW Interactive included Big Boi, Matt and Kim, Flosstradamus and obviously, Foo Fighters, who played something like two hours at the closing Interactive party. So what I’m saying is, if you like music and you like tech, you should consider doing both legs of the tour.

SXSW: Jonquil, March 15, Latitude 30

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

Jonquil

Austin – Jonquil was awesome. Playing a packed house at the British Embassy, the Oxford group trio brought their keyboard driven soaring melodies to Austin and brought the house down. The band, comprising of Hugo Manuel, Sam Hudson Scott and Robin McDiarmid used keyboards, guitars and the occasional horns to create a fully layered summery sound that only seemed to be strenghtened with Hugo Manuel’s vocals, who seemed to remind me of Elbow’s Guy Harvey. A kickass rocking cover of The XX’s Infinity put a nice finishing touch to stellar show. Check out their debut EP One Hundred Suns, available now off Dovecote Records.

SXSW Review: Wild Flag, March 16, Waterloo Records

Posted on by Paul in Concerts, South By Southwest | 2 Comments

Austin – As I was watching Wild Flag play their first show of a few that they’ll be doing for SXSW, a thought popped into my head – not only was this the second indie rock “supergroup” I had seen perform in as many days (Mister Heavenly being the other) but it was also the second band to feature the star of a TV show. Yes, besides being guitarist for Wild Flag, Carrie Brownstein is also featured in sketch comedy series Portlandia. However, unlike Mister Heavenly’s Michael Cera, I would doubt there are too many who know her better from her television appearances. And if there are, please do yourself a favour and listen to some Wild Flag and Sleater-Kinney.

In addition to Brownstein, Wild Flag also features her former S-K bandmate Janet Weiss as well as Mary Timony of Helium and Rebeca Cole of the minders. As a band, they had pretty good chemistry onstage.  Brownstein and Timony shared the role of frontwoman, each taking the lead on various songs. Cole and Weiss held things down on keys and drums respectively as well as adding harmonies throughout. Despite being a pretty big Sleater Kinney fan, I had never seen the band live when they were around, so I was looking forward to this show. At first I thought, “OK, it’s good, but maybe not great.” This attitude changed as the set went on and by the time they made it to “Glass Tambourine” and it’s ’70s styled hard rock riffage, I was sold. 

The most memorable moment of the set came early on though, when Brownstein did one of her many kicks onstage and kicked her guitar cord right out. Weiss was impressed, commenting how she had never done that in all the years they had been playing together. Brownstein commented that she would probably do it again and addressed the audience: “Do you expect this to be pretty? At a rock show?” It may not always be pretty, but Wild Flag certainly did impress me with their performance.