I couldn’t keep to my promise of a daily blog this week — apologies folks. My excuse, one 5am’er and that was me derailed for the next few days. However, I kept notes and have finally settled down to write the next blog entry.
Day 3 — March 19
There’s been whole heap of controversy over the multi national corporation McDoanlds hosting a stage at this year’s SXSW, and not paying the artists it has featured. To be honest I stumbled upon the gigantic marquee south of the Austin Convention Center by chance. Intrigued naturally, I found a pretty soul-less arena with plastic furniture with hired event staff dishing out free breakfast oatmeal and Big Mac burgers. One thing for sure if I ran out of dollar I knew where to come to snack.
It’s from here I head to the BME at Latitude to start the day off. A speed dating style networking event set up by the UKTI over bagels, fruit and coffee was in store for us as we shuffled around the room making new connections from all over the globe.
It was here I caught up with a contact who I had the pleasure of meeting in Mumbai last year called Meetal. It was Meetal’s last day at Southby and we decided to catch a show and head over to take in the delights of Rainey St. Enroute to Rainey St we stopped by the KCSN Radio Day Stage to see alt country rockers Houndmouth at the convention centre. The four piece from Indiana signed to Rough Trade Records certainly impressed, a great American sound that instantly won Meetal and I over.
From here we ventured to Rainey St to check it out for the first time. A fabulously trendy neighborhood, where people have converted their homes into bars, no wonder Hard Rock, Atlantic Records, Dr Martins and the German music industry decided to host their party/showcases here. It’s at Rainey St where we discovered Austin’s bike rental system, not too disimilar to London’s Boris Bikes, it’s a great way to navigate downtown and get around. One of the main attractions for me on Rainey Street was ‘Container Bar’ commandeered by Hard Rock for the week the spot is a bar-come-live music space made entirely out of shipping containers stacked upon one another. I need to live in a space like this, or even start my own back home!
After catching Lost Brothers and Mold’s gentile Golden Fable in the afternoon I made plans to meet with an old friend and former Orchard colleague Alex Holz who now works for YouTube a company who had a strong presence at this year’s SXSW.
Fresh and enthusiastic from watching Carl Barat Alex suggested a BBQ spot called Blacks which was slightly out of town beyond the University of Texas campus. Alex very generously treated Beth Elfyn and I to a rather filling 1lb of the finest barbeque, after a trip in my first Über ride. After a solid catch up discussing music, the Arts Council Wales/BBC Horizons scheme and Alex’s upcoming 2 day trip to Slovenia for a friends wedding we decided to head back and try catch the popular Marina & The Diamonds at the YouTube house.
Not having much luck we headed to Mohawk for the eceltic but brilliant Domino Records/Publishing showcase. We first witnessed a strong set from Philadelphia’s ‘Alex G’ who rattled off a dozen or so beautifully crafted nuggets of Indie Rock, Alex G reminded me in looks and sound to my good mate Stephen Light. Soon after we shuffled into a crammed indoor stage to see Dublin’s loud and raucous ‘Girl Band’.
Heading back out side to cool down and perhaps somewhere to sit caught the wonderful soulful indie bearded music man Matthew E White and his band.
It’s from here I excitedly went off to catch Gringo Star, a really fun band I was introduced to by Houdini Dax drummer Davey Newington.
Gringo Star played a tiny room on 6th Street called the Parish Underground. To a small crowd the popsters played an energetic set which felt like something straight out of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.
Leaving Parish Underground with a big fat Cheshire Cat grin I headed to my next showcase, my first look at Public Service Broadcasting at Latitude 30, the British Music Embassy.
PSB played to a full house and showed Austin just why they are one of the UK’s favourite live acts. I only caught half the set as it was late and I needed to make my way home, however I had scheduled to catch the duo the next day at Container Bar.
Grabbing some deep fried Oreos on my exit from Downtown I retired for the evening over a whiskey and coke at a wee bar called Wonderland.
More to come on the rest of the week’s antics. Please stay tuned.