SXSW 2017 - Monday - Austin, Texas
South By South West is an industry-based music conference/festival located in Austin, Texas. An average of 2,200 acts play over a period of five days so it's a great opportunity to watch the latest up and coming music performers from around the world alongside more established bands playing slightly more intimate venues than they are used to.
My 2017 SXSW experience started on my knees, shooting the first five minutes of Director Gareth Edwards's Keynote Speech at the Convention Center, followed by a long walk to attend one of the unofficial parties that take place in Austin throughout the week, at Hotel Vegas, my venue for the afternoon.
I was there specifically to catch two sets, starting with LA's The Wild Reeds. Before attending SX I checked out a few of the official playlists on Spotify, with the aforementioned band making the biggest impression, leading to me seeking out more of their work, including 2014's Blind And Brave album, and last year's Best Wishes EP.
The band were phenomenal live, with their sound fitting somewhere between The Staves and Haim, with live renditions of the likes of 'Where I'm Going', 'Everything Looks Better (In Hindsight)', 'Only Songs' and 'Capable' all making their set the perfect start to my 2017 SXSW musical adventure, and certainly the highlight of my day.
In addition to attending SX for the last 12 years, I've also dipped in and out of Brighton's Great Escape event, SX's way smaller overseas cousin! One of 2016's most fun bands to view were New York duo Diet Cig. The Pop Punk band consisting of Alex Luciano on vocals and guitar and drummer Noah Bowman deliver an energetic performance, which is always a great opportunity for a photographer, as you're more than likely to come away with one or two great images.
Alex certainly didn't let me down at Hotel Vegas, though it was hard keeping up with her onstage energy, especially as she'd warmed herself, and the crowd up playing Cher's 'Believe' over the PA before taking to the stage.
I'm looking forward to giving the duo's debut album Swear I'm Good At This a listen when it drops in April, largely due to enjoying their recent track entitled 'Barf Day'.
Although I really enjoyed my afternoon session of live music, the evening didn't offer as much to entice.
When I first started attending the Austin event music showcases didn't start officially till the Wednesday evening, with Tuesday sessions popping up a few years later. I may be wrong, but I believe this was the first year there's been official event's on a Monday.
There was way less on offer, compared to the 100's of showcases later in the week, so I just played it by ear, checking out a few names that sounded appealing, including MIA's drummer - Madame Gandhi. Her set was rewarding, with a fellow photographer persuading me to hang around for the next act - Suzanne Ciani.
The Grammy Award nominee has been an innovator in the World of Electronic Music, and had drawn a large responsive crowd for her Moog sponsored event. Sadly it just wasn't my thing, with her Aural Sculptures just helping acknowledge how tired I was, so I left halfway through to head to The Sidewinder Outside, where B52's vocalist Cindy Wilson helped lift my spirits, ending my evening with an invigorating set pulled from her recent solo material.