SXSW 2014 - Thursday - Austin, Texas
South By South West is an industry-based music conference/festival located in Austin, Texas. An average of 2500 bands play over a period of five days so it's a great opportunity to watch the latest "up and coming" acts from around the world alongside more established bands playing slightly more intimate venues than they are used to.
I can't say I've ever been a big fan of late 70s chart topper Gary Numan but I've liked him enough over the years to keep an eye on what he's been up to, so started my day at the Convention Centre, watching an hour long interview with the man himself. It was a very informative and humorous talk, with Gary discussing the twists of fate that led to his success, coping with fame, his current musical output and recent re-location to the States.
I had decided to have a bit of a lazy SX Thursday, so wasn't planning on running around like crazy. I was going to spend the afternoon at Cedar Street Courtyard, about five minutes from the Convention Centre. I hadn't been there for a couple of years and realised why when I started shooting my first band as it's not the best place for photography as the natural light plays havoc with my exposure. I knocked it on the head earlier than planned but still got to take in Scotland's Prides, my second set of the week from Nina Nesbitt and cheeky Irish scamps The Strypes.
The remainder of my afternoon was spent at the Fader Fort (or to give it it's correct title - THE FADER FORT Presented by Converse) watching noisy buggers Eagulls (who didn't even play 'Hotel California') and the more soulful sound of Sam Smith.
My venue of choice for the whole of the evening was Yahoo's Brazos Hall, arriving just in time to view the tail end of an intense set from Austin's Ume.
I'd headed along to the hall for a Retro double bill, seeing what Mr Numan was up to live and checking out some Blondie classics.
Some may say SXSW should be about discovering new music but I've done plenty of that over the years in Austin. I've heard some great new bands and watched some utter shite, this year included (who shall remain nameless!). I prefer to stumble over new acts while waiting for someone else to come on or if I'm hanging about after a set I've gone out of my way to view. It's just too risky to give up an hour of your time to come away disappointed!
It certainly was the right call for my Thursday night entertainment as both performances exceeded my expectations. Gary's showcase was pretty heavy and full on, mixing new material with hits like 'Cars' and 'Are Friends Electric'. I enjoyed his set a lot and will hopefully view one of his UK shows in the near future. Debbie and the boys also pulled tracks from their latest album and extensive back catalogue, throwing in the Beastie Boys anthem '(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)' towards the end of 'Rapture', a great end to a fairly lazy day.