This is our second visit to Howlin’ Fling (following 2014’s edition) and this time the event is advertised as a stripped down affair of two days, well Friday evening and all day Saturday.
Life of Eigg however, has to be experienced first hand and once onshore, Eigg time begins. We arrived Friday afternoon via the Shearwater ferry and left Monday morning. Howling’ fling is not just a music festival, this is an opportunity to share island life for four days with some of the most hospitable people you could find anywhere. Eat, drink and be merry. Enjoy the music and the company of 200 fellow festival goers, the artists themselves and the fine people of Eigg, that is the prevailing message of the weekend.
The Lost Map record label provides a fair share of the weekend’s bands understandably and the festival itself kicks off with the performance artists and band, Monoganon. Quite a start it is too with just a stripped down two piece version of the band, they certainly left an imprint on the mind.
A forty minute break between each band gives everyone time to eat, drink and chinwag. The ever wonderful Rozi Plain melts the audience with a sublime set and she is followed by Slow Club who mesmerise and seem a bit disengaged with each other at the same time. A pair of solo songs each, sees the other partner in the band seemingly pretty disinterested to what the other one is signing, Perhaps it’s just the night, the tunes are as great as ever, let’s hope this band can forge forward together.
Johnny Lynch aka Pictish Trail (Lost Map boss, festival organiser, compere and singer/songwriter), who sticks in a great full band set. Johnny seems to be following the John Grant route of acoustic singer/songwriter goes electronic, but it all makes for a bouncy set.
The evening goes on till around 4am on Saturday morning, but this correspondent heads tent bound, down the lane and across the stepping stones on the river for a night’s kip. Night’s are short on Eigg this time of the year, it is still light approaching 11pm so you could be up at 5am and find yourself chatting with the locals and late night revellers. Saturday morning passes with bacon and egg butties from the ever wonderful harbour-side kiosk and a walk around some of the island.
Ed Dowie, a composer who has been making music since the late 1990’s kicks off today’s music with a sweet atmospheric set. I think James Blake must have listened to this guy. Victoria Hume from Jo’berg is heavenly, songs and a voice that again melts the heart. Life Model a Glaswegian garage band really ramp up proceedings with the most rocking set of the festival so far, a band to most certainly keep a eye on.
The quality of bands and artists is first class and most importantly they seem genuinely delighted and humble to have been asked to play on Eigg. Gwenno (Saunders) has totally reinvented herself from her Pipette role as a champion of Welsh Music. Her album ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ was Mercury nominated and her set comes from that excellent record. An enthralling performance.
There are moments in your experience of live music that are nearly impossible to re-tell. You've got to be in the moment and all that drivel. But what the hell, let's try to explain a dozen pop star cross-dressing nuns on this wee island of Eigg. Howlin' Fling 2016 gave us a new kind of supergroup. Forget Blind Faith. Forget The Band. Forget the Wilbury's or all that you ever saw or imagined.
Yet Blind Faith is an apt reference point - many of us couldn't find our way home. Billed as 'Look Who's Mappin' Too', you might get a flavour if, to the words of a familiar Sgt Pepper track, you sing along: 'Picture yourself in a hall on an island, with transgender nuns holding fender guitars ..... in short, TLC's 'Scrubs' was suitably irreverent and angelic, while Bowie's 'Let's Dance' probably had David Jones jigging in his grave. Neither song will ever be the same again.
Spirits were among us, and no doubt inside us. A brilliantly ramshackle ultra-group of musicians conspired to deliver - in full habit regalia - half a dozen 'tributes' in covers-band style. It was pure magic and drew possibly the biggest cheers of the weekend. They say pop will eat itself - this was pop peeing itself with joy and with a beaming smile on its celestial face.
Break for dinner with the ever superb ‘Where the Monkey Sleeps’ catering crew means next out on stage is ex Coral guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones and his band. Certainly the set of the weekend, almost a Neil Young and Crazy Horse vibe at times, the band is full of genuine musicians in superb form. A stunningly good set in the tiny Ceilidh Hall (where all the music is staged).
Jane Weaver another Liverpudlian plays a storming set of psych/folk around her successful ’Silver Globe’ album and is followed by the ever maturing and classy rockers, Tuff Love and the soulful danceable machine that is Glasgow’s Bossy Love.
Sunday is a day for exploring the island on bikes as the sun shines. Thanks to Libby for opening her tea shop for us! Then it’s an afternoon/evening around the campfire where those who have not caught the ferry back to the mainland just test the local craft ale and kickback. People chat, musicians pick up an instrument and perform or invoke a sing-a-long.
We are piped off the island on Monday morning with new and old friendships made and re-kindled plus, many happy memories. There truly is nothing like a Howling Fling on the island of Eigg!
Pete & Nige
As always Glastonbury this year was superb for me. The music and atmosphere was the best, the lovingly created art intrigued and delighted the eye, the beer and food was fine fare indeed and yes the mud was especially challenging. Michael said it was the worst ever! But that shared experience only enhanced the special bond between the Glastonbury revellers.
The following ramblings are about my highlights of this year’s festival. I saw many other bands which I will not mention some good and some not so good for me!
I have been to every Glastonbury since 2004 but this year I really thought I wouldn’t get there after failing to get a ticket last October. However I managed to get a coach ticket leaving the O2 in London at 5 am Wednesday morning. We should have got to the festival at about 10am but the roads around Glastonbury were gridlocked and we didn’t get there untill 3pm! Cars were getting stuck in muddy car parks and there were horrendous tailbacks. But when it was pissing down with rain whilst I was in the coach, it seemed the best place to be!
There were a bunch of us camping together. The others were held up for hours so we didn’t get camped untill the evening. After that we wandered over to West Holts stage for food and ended up at my favourite bar on top of the hill behind the Park Stage. This was new last year. It has real ale in barrels and the views over the site are spectacular. That night there was a myriad of twinkly lights and every so often the night sky lit up with a fireball as they were testing the flares on Arcadia.
There is more music on a Thursday that they used to be. We started out at the Greenpeace Stage to see the New York Brass Band, they were playing covers and included a Prince tribute. All great for a sing-a-long.
I went to see This Is The Kit on my favourite small stage The Crows Nest at the top of the hill behind the Park. (That stage will feature a lot in this blog). Lovely indie numbers from Kate Stables band which included the superbly talented Rozi Plain on bass and vocals.
The other highlight of the day was Kate Tempest performing on The Hell Stage in Shangri-La at night. She was so good. I loved her machine gun delivery of poetic rap. The poetry of her words is brilliant and is intertwined with serious social comment, e.g. “just because you can’t see the bars doesn’t mean you aren’t imprisoned” I had the privilege of meeting Kate a couple of days later at The Crows Nest!
The day started with The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians with Damon Albarn on The Pyramid Stage, it was good to support them as it is noble project which is a mixture of classical orchestra and eastern music and included a session with Damon singing 'Out Of Time'. Next up was Rokia Traore on The Pyramid from Mali, she was superb as usual. She has a wonderful voice singing mainly in French with an African funky rhythm.
More French connections with French singer songwriter Christine And The Queens on The Other Stage. Synth pop with the best dance routines I have seen! She was dancing with 3 male professional dancers who are part of her normal band.
With all the mud you can’t loll about on the grass so I treated myself to some chill out time lounging on a settee in a café in the hippy atmosphere of the Tipi Village. It, of course, had a stage with a band playing, as does almost every café in Glastonbury.
To the Pyramid Stage to get near the front for The Foals.
They were so good. What Went Down was one of my top five albums of last year. I hadn’t seen them for a couple of years and they just get better and better. Rock at its best especially when shared with hundreds of others rocking out around you in the evening sun. (yes sun!)
Muse were next on as headliners. They seem too often get a bad press, but I enjoyed their epic numbers and especially all the visual images and effects on the giant screens behind them, the visuals for Starlight was like flying through space.
My final highlight of the day was Jagwar Ma on at 1:30am at the Crows Nest. The small venue was packed with not much room to move to the electro dance sound of this three piece band which felt so good.
Started off at The Pyramid Stage for Baaba Maal. Squeeze sere on and were really good . You forget how many great songs they had. I loved the sound of Baaba Maal. African rhythms with passion and soul. He is from Senegal and was another singer who was singing in French!
The Band Of Skulls were great on The Other Stage. Nice riffs and rock sounds.The soulful ballads of Michael Kiwanuka were excellent at The Crows Nest. He was followed by Alexis Taylor. Gentle thoughtful songs which he accompanied on the keyboard.
I moved down the hill to the Park Stage. The penultimate highlight of the day was Mercury Rev. they were truly wonderful. I loved the ethereal sounds of the band. When they played The dark Is Rising it felt so good. it gave me goose bumps!
The final highlight of the day was the band The Very Best in the Crows Nest after a few pints at the neighbouring bar. They had been playing the West Holts Stage earlier that day and it was like being in a great party with a live band playing funky Afro pop and they didn’t finish till 2:30am!
After that I went to one of my favourite bar in Greenfields to chill on the comfort of their settees. It’s an amazing place like being in someone’s lounge for a party with a bar, table football machine and a DJ.
The cool man who is Gregory Porter was on the Pyramid Stage in the morning when I got there. He was followed by Laura Mvula looking wonderful in a flamboyant dress with large neck piece patterned like a union jack and sporting the most enormous earrings. I was wanting to hear her soulful voice and was not disappointed.
Jeff Lynne’s ELO played next on that stage. It was a smooth performance and a real guilty pleasure to hear those 70’s and 80’s sounds and hits like It’s Magic and Telephone Line. Band Of Horses were on the John Peel Stage which had moved up the hill on the Worthy farm side to where the cinema used to be. They were really good with their American sound of rocking Americana.
The big highlight of the day was to see Coldplay headline the Pyramid Stage again. The show was a visual and aural delight. They put so much into their performance and there were fireworks, confetti cannon, lasers, and we all wore wristbands which lit up and changed colour according to some central control!
During the performance they had a tribute to Mohamed Ali and also played a Viola Beach number in tribute to the that young band. Bee Gee Barry Gibb joined the band for a couple of classics. The whole show had a feelgood finish to another superb Glastonbury.
And you know when after hearing a band a particular number will continue in your head for a while well the lights on my wristband continued to change colour as a reminder until about 6 pm the following day!
I love Glastonbury even in horrendously muddy conditions. Let’s hope I can get tickets again next year and keep up my unbroken run of being there since 2004!
Summer has arrived for the Sunday of Field Day 2016, following the monsoon on Saturday, Sunday brings mud and showers.
First band up are Arthur Beatrice and a fine early afternoon show this is, vocalist Ella Girardot is the focal point of the band and her vocal range is excellent. The band have an enthusiasm that really lights the spark for the bands to follow.
Parquet Courts are the first band on the main stage. Twenty minutes late, they waste no time in bringing their Talking Heads/Pavement style songs to our earlobes as they hurtle through a set of material mainly from their new album Human Performance’
Steve Mason is on solid form and is another one with a new album to promote. The Return of the Rual tent is packed for his set. The Thurston Moore Band follow next and are in sonic form. Just a 45 minute set was short particularly, as the band were scheduled for an hour. Some great guitar work!
Blossoms have a steady growing fanbase and a heavy shower meant a packed Shacklewell Arrms stage (as it is for most of the afternoon) for their set of pop tunes.
Set of the day goes to The Ben Watt Band featuring Bernard Butler who had a teatime slot in the tiny Moth Club tent. Quality songs, mind blowing guitar, a tight rhythm section and a fine beard courtesy of Laura Marling’s bass player. a brilliant set from a band of quality musicians plying their trade.
John Grant gets an hour in the sunshine on the main stage and really gets the crowd engaged and dancing. Beach House headline the Shacklewell Arms stage, which I suppose is the second stage at Field Day. As a second stage this really needs to be bigger or an open air stage, over the years it is constantly packed and overflows (12 people deep for Beach House and something similar for the Fat White Family) but this has been the same across the many years of the festival. Beach House played pretty much in the dark but, they sounded magnificent.
PJ Harvey is the headliner and it is a brilliant show to round off another excellent day in Victoria Park.
Continuing from Part 4
SXSW Saturday 19th March
Well..today is it, The last day of our adventure here in Austin? We have had a good rest, and a lovely breakfast and we have decided to try to get into the Rachel Ray party at Stubbs. An American cook show host has a large party every year that usually consists of some very solid artists and this year it is no different with Jenny Lewis, George Clinton, and Andersan Paak.
This party is a popular one. Open to the public, it’s always quite busy, but we figure we will give it a go and that was a mistake. Even an hour early, at 9am, there are over 1000 people in line. Security tells us that the line was well over 500 people at 7:30 am. An open party, with a solid lineup that has free food and booze is always going to be popular, but this is ridiculous. As the doors open, our hope is that we make the cut as we have already waited for well over an hour. Stubbs holds a lot of people and we have already committed to this showcase so we just shuffle along. Luckily, there is no other showcase this early in the day so we are not missing anything.
As it happens, we get within 60 or so people to get in, and they shut the doors down. The venue has hit capacity. Sadly, it takes a quick look at the schedule of shows inside to see that with the free food and booze and the fact that most people are here to see the bands that come on in about 3 hours...we don't stand a chance.
What we can do is check our back up plans and make a decision.
We decide to wander around and then head to a party that starts at 1pm and we go and hang out in the wifi lounge at the Hilton. There we run into a friend from Toronto who has decided to head to the show we are going to as well so everything works out for a reason!
We are off to a party at the Barracuda. It’s another venue with an inside and outside stage, perfect to keep moving and maximizing the amount of bands we can see. Not sure what to expect here as the bands I am familiar with are coming up later so..here we go.
First up is the Danish band Yung. These guys are relentless, a mess of feedback and rhythms, a quality rock band who's opening set is spirited enough to wake everyone up. It’s noisy but it is rock n roll and that's fine with me. Have seen a lot of guitar rock bands this week and these guys definitely know what they are doing as well.
Inside it is the Sun Club. These guys are a wacky 5 piece band from Baltimore. Big percussion, crazy upbeat and frantic singing, solid guitar work, it's an odd mix that plays itself out on stage. They don't do mellow..there is nothing that slows these guys down. You can’t watch these guys, it’s a rather amusing band to watch and the songs are pretty good, but perhaps pushed to a different level because of their frantic live show.
Back outside and it’s the NYC band called the Drowners. Its kinda "friendly post punk" that is sung by Welsh singer who moved to NYC years ago. The songs come on like a softer Strokes, and the singing is quite good. The songs switch from short 3 minute punk pop tunes to longer more complicated Smiths like songs. It is a great overall set of some pretty accessible songs and the set finishes a bit too soon.
Inside is a band I have tried to see a few times over the years. They tour a lot but it just has not worked out. Inside is Public Access TV.
Public Access TV is another band from NYC. This 4 piece band have been buzzed about for the last year or so. It's a splendid pop punk band that will end up reminding me of the Clash fairly often. They play very well and I can see why NME considered them one of the best bands to have recently come out of NYC. It’s sort of a retro punk sound that pleasurable to listen to and for such a young band.
We could stick around here for the rest of the showcase, but I really want to see the band that s coming up at the Brit Embassy bar Latitude and that is Nai Harvest.
We walk over to the venue and walk straight into their set. I have been a fan of theirs for some time. Nai Harvest is a 2 piece band that draws influences from 90's emo and alt pop bands and morph the sounds into their own. As a two piece, they to do a lot within their songs, a lot of stop start moments, some distorted voice and guitar and some frantic drumming and screaming that create all sorts of different levels of music. It is hook laden and riff driven and often reminds me of a smaller version of a messy Teenage Fanclub so I am pleased.
We can stay for one more band here before a quick trip to a nearby bar so up on stage, its Autobahn. This band is loud, and dark. A mix of Sisters of Mercy & Joy Division but with some growling guttural singing and a mess of noise. They are spirited but it’s a quick set and we have to move to get to the next venue.
Up next at the Vulcan Gas Company bar is Fantastic Negrito. This band won the NPR "Tiny Desk Contest" in 2015 and have been an often mentioned band in many friends lists of bands we have to see. Described as Black Roots music for everyone, and Blues with a punk attitude, it’s a band that strives to bridge a gap from Leadbelly to modern sounds by using loops and samples and some wicked musicians. Lead singer Xavier Dphrepaulezz is dynamic and assured. He speaks to the crowd as if he is leading a sermon, and the crowd eats it up. It's funk with a message and its sounds fantastic in this new bar.
It is difficult not to notice the meaning of his words and the themes are all statements on social issues and the band tries to push a message using instruments. It’s a quality set of songs and I am glad we made the time to get over here.
Now late afternoon and decisions need to be made. Our last night in Austin and we want to make sure we make the most of it. We have to make time for dinner, but also want to catch a few bands in multiple different venues and locations. Once we map out our approach, we have dinner, a fine craft ale and then we are back at it.
We hit the Blackheart on Rainey Street to catch the band Pins. Pins have been mentioned on numerous occasions as a band I need to revisit this trip. Two friends have seen them already this week and they all found ways to see them again because they were so good. I have seen Pins in years past but it works out that we can see them over here.
Pins are an all girl band from Manchester. They have been around for awhile but they seem to have stepped it up a bit. Guitar work is catchy, the Rhythm section is as good as I have heard on this trip and the voices are spectacular. It’s a beautiful wave of guitars and pop vocals, it’s as catchy as it gets and its delightful to see and hear. They have improved tremendously since the last show I saw and they are fun to watch. They are a very good group mixing up the girl group pop with some punk elements and it works well.
We are off now to check out the Aussie band Harts again. Sometimes you have to fit bands like these back into your schedule because the first show we saw of theirs was simply not enough. We enjoyed it so much, we have to see them again. In the back of my mind is the fact that we run the risk of getting shut out of the last showcase we plan to hit but it’s worth it for Harts.
It’s a walk to Esther’s Follies and we get there in time for the band before Harts. Breanna Barbara is up on stage and her band is really quite good. Always love these surprises and she has fantastic voice and a great band. Her first album is coming out shortly and I am quite intrigued by it. She is a lo fi punk blues artist with an incredible voice and I can’t wait to hear more. Sadly we catch only a few songs.
Harts is up next and they do not disappoint. This kid is ridiculously talented, with a Hendrix guitar style, throw in some funk, a greater drummer. It takes no time for pedestrian traffic outside the front window of the venue, to stop and start accumulating to take photo's and to witness this guy.
6th street is a madhouse tonight, but we watch from our seats at this venue as people wander by and can’t help but to stop. It’s a fantastic set of songs and despite the risk, whatever happens for the rest of the night, it was clearly the right decision.
We now rush over to the British Embassy at the Latitude bar, again, to catch Barns Courtney. This would be the only chance I had all week to see him and we are able to get in so the worry is over and I am happy.
Barns hits the stage and I certainly understand what the talk is about. This kid is awfully confident for being such a new artist, he sings like an old pro and he stands along plucking his guitar singing his country style pop hits and every song sounds strong.
There is no dud among them and his country style often morphs into a blues rocker and it’s easy to see a Carl Barat influence who is someone that has taken a keen interest in this kids future. There is an edge to this kids music which will appeal to many and I certainly can see why he has earned himself the opening slot for Ed Sheeran and the Libertines. Kid has talent and its fun to watch.
Now it’s time for a complete change of pace. Seems the British Music Embassy is going to finish off their showcases in Austin by having a bit of a dance party. Formation hits the stage and again, everything kicks off. The bar is full of many of the bands that have played here over the week and they are here...to dance. Everywhere I look..they have moved forward and as soon as the band hits the stage and the lead vocalist, Will Ritson starts singing, its full on.
Quite the change from Barns Courtney, Formation are energetic and overwhelmingly boisterous and fun..full of funk and a dance beat frenzy that is quite welcome at this point. Will eventually comes into the crowd and dances along with the rest of us and its been rather entertaining. Not a bad way to make sure we end this festival in a way that we won’t forget..it was a blast.
Perhaps it was all the dancing, but all of a sudden I am feeling the effects of a full week of this. Though the next band has been promised to be the ultimate party band..aptly named PartyBaby, a guitar based funk dance band from Los Angeles, they can’t get this guy to move anymore. I was done in by Formation and PartyBaby, despite throwing out a lot of grooves and entirely danceable songs, I am done in. It’s here that I wave goodbye to my favourite venue of the city and walk to 2 blocks to our hotel because I do have to fly home sadly.
Overall, it was yet another successful SXSW and a quality visit to Austin. Was able to go from showcase to showcase without any hiccups, was able to get into the night showcases without a problem and despite the few technical issues at some shows and the ill fated attempt at heading to the Rachel Ray party, all has gone well. I hope to see a few more friends in Austin next year in March for SXSW2017
Jim & Sandra
Continuing from Part 3
SXSW Friday 18th March
Friday arrives with a threat of rain, a minor/mid level of exhaustion and a considerable need for coffee. As those of you who have been to SXSW before, you know you have to have a plan for each day, with back up options, and back up options for the back up options. Today, with the threat of storms, we want to keep our options open so after breakfast we head to the Aussie BBQ.
The Aussie BBQ is quite close to our hotel and to a number of other potential showcase so it will be an easy shift if needed. Our intention was to see DMA's and Methyl Ethel here today but because earlier showcases featured the bands, our schedule is now flexible. The BBQ is still full of acts that interested us so we got comfortable and watched the shows.
Up first there was the shoegaze fuzz rock band called Pretty City. They are a strong little rock outfit that don't go light on the noise and frenetic pace. It’s a straight ahead set of catchy little songs and its solid.
Next up is the much buzzed about band fronted by Julia Jacklin. A wonderfully talented singer songwriter, Julia has clearly been buzzed about in Australia as it seems all of the Aussie's in Austin are here.
Having watched a video of hers recently, I knew what to expect and quick comparisons come fast..Angel Olsen, Fionna Apple..singing and song style are immediately familiar and quite good. Throw some quality guitar work and it’s a blissful set of indie rock. Julia Jacklin has as much potential as I have seen so far this trip and her set is over far too soon.
Still no rain so we stick around to see Big White. Another Aussie guitar band, this 5 piece is rather quirky, jangling and fun. Think Talking Heads with some layers of fuzzy guitar, it’s a good little show.
Now comes the big surprise of the day, the plan is to leave shortly to head to the British Music Embassy, but it’s only a block away so we have some time. The next act is Harts who are a two piece band, built around the exquisite guitar work and great voice of the lead singer, Darren Hart. Accompanied by his drummer, Darren sings, plays his guitar and plays keyboards and produces what could be the best, most enjoyable set of funk, soul, rock, r&b, that one could hear. He plays guitar like Hendrix and can manipulate the crowd at will. He is a party, a very very fun party. A little research finds that he has not gone un noticed and that Prince has taken an interest and invited him to his studio to record his album.
Darren is also playing one of Prince's guitars so that has to help. It’s a brilliant set and one that we hope to repeat later if we can pull it off at another showcase. Now, it is time to head to our next showcase at Latitude up first is Rozi Plain. I gather she has been around for a while playing some very solid alt folk pop songs and it’s my first time seeing her. Another solid voice and some very catchy songs, she clearly has been at this for sometime. Its a gentle voice with some intricate guitar work and it all comes together well.
Violet Skies is up next. She is described as a cinematic and sensuous singer songwriter and that seems pretty accurate. She lists Joni Mitchel and James Blake as inspiration and that seems about right. It’s a simple blend of a lovely voice, some delicate music to sing with and some well written lyrics. It’s smooth and will never over power you but easy enough to listen to and rather sweet. Her voice has a hint of being a bit more powerful, its hidden but on occasion, when it comes..it’s pretty powerful.
Up next, its Gwenno. This former Pipette is a little dynamo on her own. Singing in Welsh and English, she performs Electropop to perfection. It's a brilliant set of songs that suit her voice perfectly. She holds nothing back, singing some political songs with a passion that reflects some strongly held views. While I don’t always understand what she is singing, it has no effect on the enjoyment of the show with a stunning voice and a back drop of electro drum and bass and the songs pack a punch.
There seems to be a bit of a buzz about the next band, Fickle Friends. The crowd swells and now includes quite a few lined up to fill front of stage. It takes some time to get the band going, plenty of set up issues so they get a very short set. When the band does get going, it’s pretty polished indie pop. Lead singer Natassja Shiner is tough not to like she is a little ball of energy up front and has a very personable way about her and a tremendous voice.
Though they only have a short set, it has people bouncing about so I have to believe their hardcore fans who are here are happy. Recently signed to Polydor, this band does what they do very well, an almost retro pop sound that won’t be for all, but I can see them doing well when they do tour North America.
Up next is Stealing Sheep who are a rather lovely psychedelic pop band from Liverpool. These three young ladies have been around for a few years and in that time, have done well to perfect their country/electronic/indie rock sound. They sound very polished and their songs are solid and they do have a slightly folk flavour but it’s not a simple sound that they are going for..it is refreshing.
At this point in the day, SXSW starts sending out alerts on their mobile apps that indicate a storm is on its way. As you can understand, any storm that includes a considerable amount of lightning is not ideal for all of the venues and shows in Austin that are based on stages set up outside. Reports are now coming in that hail is on its way and it's at this point that we decide to go for dinner and hide from the weather. Still feeling the effects of a late night with the DMA's, it’s a welcome shift and we need some rest to continue.
As we sit at dinner, the reports start coming in from various friends as well as local news sources. The storm is hitting and many shows based outside are being postponed. Fader Fort, Willie Nelsons Ranch shows, and many venues with outside stages are reporting delays. We decide to get out and hit a showcase indoors that features at least one band I really wanted to check out and that is Eleanor Friedberger.
We head back to the Parish for a showcase that features a few bands I know little about.
Franky Flowers are the first band up on stage. This Los Angeles band is on the messy side of fuzzy indie rock. Being a huge fan of pure voices, I am not quite sure what the singing represents here, but the songs are fantastic overall. On occasion..the voice matches the brilliant musicianship and it’s interesting to see how these songs are played out because it’s really hard to guess where each one is going. Surf punk indie rock garage fuzz tunes that seem complicated to perform have drawn a crowd. This band does not make simple songs and they are drawn out, layered pieces of work and I can’t help but admire their work. I will follow up online to see if there are any more reviews as in the crowd are both Huw Stephens and Steve Lamacq of the BBC and hopefully they toss up their thoughts online and I am very interested in their thoughts.
The next band I do recall from various online playlists and they are the Bee Caves. These guys are an Austin/Americana band with a touch of shoegaze/electronica mixed in for good measure. With a lead singer on acoustic guitar, two more guitarists, bass, drums, and keys..it’s a fantastic layered set of songs that is difficult to make direct comparisons to. Just when you think a song is going in a roots Americana direction, all of a sudden the great voices are joined by some brilliant complicated shoegaze guitar work and off you go. Really is a band worth checking out as they offer up something for everyone.
Dylan Leblanc is next up and I have to say, he turns out to be the best of the night.
Dylan is a Louisiana native who now resides in Muscle Shoals. Having released his third album, he has plenty of work to chose from and all of his work is rich in texture with a voice which fluctuates from subtle to overwhelming hitting levels that are very very impressive. His voice fits well with the arrangements that vary from some brilliant violin and bass and drums to simple acoustic guitar work and keys. The set is evidence of a range and moods that are as unpredictable as they are wonderful to hear. As more reports come in of cancelled shows and mass groups of people huddled under tents outside, I am very glad to be standing here listening to one of the better performers of the week. And when Dylan ends his set with a cover of ELO's "Showdown" it is clear we made the better choice to stay inside!
Its now time for Eleanor Friedberger. This American singer songwriter, formerly of the Fiery Furnaces, has a wonderful voice. She is a very expressive singer and its clear her songs mean a lot to her. Its folk and funk and country and rock and it is sometimes quite complicated and sometimes quite simple. It’s a solid set of tempo changes that seem to all be based around her voice and its rather lovely. The only downfall here is that she followed Dylan Leblanc at this showcase and compared to his voice tonight, I’m afraid, nothing will compare.
There are still two solid bands at this showcase tonight but it’s after midnight and I am struggling. Its been a long week and I make the decision that if I am to have any kind of effective last day at SXSW, I need to shut it down early and we are off!
That's it for today.
Continues in Part 5
Jim & Sandra