Here’s the first of the Listen To This daily blog posts at this year’s SXSW festival. After a weary non-direct flight from Dublin I’ve landed in the live music capital of the world Austin Texas for the worlds largest music showcase SXSW.
I’m going to be writing this daily blog for our small music management company based in Wales, UK. I’m writing it as I find the festival. I know one thing for sure there is so much going on its going to be impossible to cover everything.
I arrived for registration early this morning, my very kind host dropping me downtown early to collect my music delegates accreditation & music badge. Instantly taken aback by how much “buzz” there is here even at 8.30pm, production crews hurriedly errecting stages and festival goers nursing hangovers with coffee and breakfast.
I was one of the first 20 in the registration queue. Friendly folk introduce themselves, many have been in Austin for the interactive and film festival and are here to enjoy the music shows this week. I also met one manager and student artist who’d won a scholarship to be at SXSW to learn about the music industry, they had driven over night from North Dakota to be here.
On 6th Street around noon St Patrick’s Day celebrations were in full swing. I decided to grab a salad in the Darwins an Irish Bar on the corner of 6th St and San Jancinto right next door to Latitude 30 a nightclub that the UKTI have hired, rebranded as the British Music Exchange and have made their own for the week. It’s purpose to provide the stage and setting for the UK home countries to showcas their best new musical talent and do business.
It’s whilst sat in the open window area of Darwins I was spotted by Claire Heat and Elen Roberts who were sporting rather glorious tee shirts sporting tees that were promoting Wales’s party and showcase which happening later in the day at the BME.
It’s from here we went to meet with Juice PR an agency tasked with promoting the Wales showcase and party at this year’s Southby. Heather from Juice thoroughly went through an impressive list of accepted RSVPs including the mayor of Toronto and the marketing people at the new Formula 1 ‘Curcuit of The Americas’ in Austin. So, the stage was set for our Welsh delegates and artists to do what they do best.
The first band I got to see at SXSW was hotly tipped Scottish alternative indie rock three piece Fatherson who were playing a rooftop of a 6th Street bar called The Blind Pig. Only catching the very last two songs, the Kilmarnock band impressed and I will definitely be looking to catch a full set on Thursday when they play their next showcase The North Door.
After walking by some fairly mediocre stuff at the Colarado Music Party, we decided to make our way to the BME early in preparation for the nights entertainment.
Performing acoustically at the Wales showcase were Golden Fable and Paper Aeroplanes. Both acts performing three songs a piece and giving the congregating music badge holders a introductory taste of what Wales has to offer musically. We were blown away by a passionate performance by Paper Aeroplanes, their song ‘Little Letters’ was a particular crowd pleaser.
Once the chatter of the networking party was over it was time for BBC Radio One DJ Huw Stephens to take the stage and introduce a burly line up that he himself had curated. A line up that included flag ship Welsh artist ‘The People The Poet’, ‘Catfish & The Bottlemen’ and ‘Until The Ribbon Break’s. Joining the line up from elsewhere in the UK were ‘East India Youth’, ‘Shura’ and the very wonderful human being that is ‘Kate Tempest’.
Huw Stephens proudly introduces the opening showcase act ‘The People The Poet’ explaining they are from Pontypridd the home town of another Welsh legend that is Tom Jones. Playing tracks from their EP ‘Narrator’ The People The Poet put in the performance of their lives. Tight, unabashed and full of life the band commanded the stage and delivered their very well written songs that have a chanty folk singalong thing going on in which the crowd watching them partook. After impressing a 300 strong room teeming with delegates from all corners of the globe and the music industry, it’s hard to imagine the band won’t be picking up some strong opportunities in the 12 months to come.
Up next was one man band and Mercury Prize nominated and XL recording artist ‘East India Youth’. After sound checking what seemed like an eternity, William Doyle soared through an energetic electronic set to a packed out Latitude 30.
“More empathy, less greed” was the message of South East London beat poet, spoken word and hip hop artist ‘Kate Tempest’. This was by far my favourite performance of the day. What was so very apparent was how delighted Kate Tempest was to be at the gig. She proclaimed playing at SXSW was a huge personal milestone for her and the band and that she wanted to share that special moment with her urging the crowd to out away their phones and just be. Hard working with a positive message to spread through her music, I got the feeling the largely American audience took a real shine to the hard working lass from Brockley. Good on her.
So, that’s my round up for day one at SXSW.
See you tomorrow.
P.S here’s some other cool stuff I came across in Downtown Austin oh and picture of my roommate Draco.