SXSW 2012 - Wednesday - Austin, Texas
My SX Wednesday began returning to the Fader Fort to pick up my press credentials. As Spotify House was nearby I spent the afternoon flitting between the two venues, allowing me to watch sets from Widowspeak, White Arrows, 2 Chainz, Django Django, a very energetic Oberhofer and Kimbra.
New Zealand singer Kimbra was on my "must see" list for SX. I had come across her work while searching through the SXSW schedules, really appreciating her single videos and enjoying her Vow album. Kimbra's stripped down Spotify House set was a decent introduction to her live work and I made up my mind there and then to catch her official showcase at La Zona Rosa later that evening.
My final act at Fader Fort was Santigold. The American singer's set was one of the day's highlights as her performance was a visual treat, with Santigold and her dancers bustin' out the moves. A few audience member's days were made when the singer asked them to join her onstage and it was joy to watch, with a lot of happy faces throwing themselves into their three minutes of fame!
I had to cut the Fader set short so I could leg it over to Stubbs to watch a rare performance from singer / songwriter Fiona Apple. Stubbs photo pit was rammed and it wasn't the most enjoyable experience shooting Fiona, especially as I couldn't get near her piano for song number two and I was glad when our three song allocation was over. I hung around for a little bit but I had a long walk ahead of me up to La Zona Rosa so left after a handful of songs.
I had taken the trip to LZR to shoot sets from the UK's Ed Sheeran and Kimbra but found my attempts slightly thwarted. The one thing that really annoys me at SXSW is when you have press credentials but then show up at a venue only to be told you need an additional pass to use the venue's photo pit. You are never told this in advance so it's a real pain in the neck, especially if you've trecked miles to a venue like LZR.
I wasn't the only photographer at the venue with the problem and we all tried to get things sorted out, giving us access, but it was obvious the person in charge had no interest in helping us out so we had to shoot from the outskirts of the side of the photo pit.
It didn't stop me from enjoying Ed's set though and it was great to see him go down so well with a US crowd, especially when he got a great reaction when asking the audience to particiapte during an extremely lengthy 'You Need Me, I Don't Need You'. Kimbra also shined, with 'Settle Down' and the awesome 'Cameo Lover' sounding stupendous.
I was able to relax a bit after Kimbra's set as I had a couple of hours to kill before my next act at Pure Volume House. I was going to watch a bit of a 12am showcase but decided to get down to PVH early so I could get a decent spot to photograph UK X Factor alumini Cher Lloyd.
In addition to covering SX for the Fix I also shoot for a picture agency and knew pictures of Cher could possibly find a home, so decided to shoot all three of her shows while in Austin. This was no chore to me mind you as I think her debut album Sticks + Stones is a great pop album.
Cher's US debut was a real success, especially as there were several fans in the house who knew all the words to her songs, even though her first single has still to drop Stateside. There was one glaring omission in the set though as the singer's UK debut 'Swagger Jagger' was nowhere to be seen. Some (including me) may say this was a good thing, especially as her other singles 'I Want You Back' and 'With Ur Love' made a great impression live. It was Cher's unique take on Nenah Cherry's 80's classic 'Buffalo Stance', entitled 'Playa Boi' that was the evening's top moment though and I left PVH looking forward to watching the singer's second set later in the week.