SXSW 2017 - Friday - 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.
Most years at SXSW there's a day where things don't go to plan, or there's just not as much that takes your fancy band wise, with Friday evening turning out that way for my 12th SX!
The day got off to a great start though, spending the afternoon at The Blackheart, where I was poised to take in performances from The Wild Reeds, and firm Fix favourite - Nicole Atkins, with the Folk sounds of River Whyless and the Blues tinged Hurray For The Riff Raff keeping me occupied till their appearance.
I'd viewed a set from LA's The Wild Reeds at the beginning of the week, after discovering them via a SX Spotify playlist. Their Folk Rock sound really won me over, with the band remaining my joint fave find of my Austin trip (battling it out with the UK's Dream Wife).
Their Blackheart show was equally as impressive, with highlights again including 'Everything Looks Better In Hindsight', 'Where I'm Going', and new tracks 'Capable' and 'Only Songs' from forthcoming album The World We Built. There's talk of UK dates down the line, so I hopefully won't have to travel so far to see them next time round!
It had been a few years since I'd seen Nicole Atkins play live, probably at her last SX outing, promoting album Slow Phaser. She's played London a few times in the years that have followed, but usually in a venue with poor lighting for photography, so I've always given it a miss, vowing to see her when she returned.
I'm glad our paths finally crossed again, as I was treated to a set pulled mostly from forthcoming album Goodnight Rhonda Lee. There's seemed to be a bit of a 60's R and B / Soul vibe to some of the tracks, which worked well with Nicole's deep voice, and I came away very impressed with the new material, especially her full on last number, which I imagine will be the set piece of her upcoming release.
After a storming afternoon the evening was a bit of a wash out. I didn't have much planned in advance, so took to the opportunity to check out what was was happening at Lana Del Rey's Apple gig, over at the old La Zona Rosa, a bit of a trek from where most of the action was.
I'd heard there was a "No camera" policy at the event, even with media credentials, but it was worth taking the trip there, on the off chance this wasn't the case, especially as I had time on my hands anyway.
As it was, there was no chance to shoot. I had the option of watching the show and checking my camera gear in, but decide t give it a miss, heading down to 6th Street to view a rowdy showcase from Norwegian Punkers Sløtface at Maggie Mae's. The group were on good form, but the showcase that followed was a bit of a let down.
I'd taken in a set from singer Maggie Rogers the previous afternoon, so was looking forward to seeing her play again, at St. Davids Historic Sanctuary. Even though I had an Express pass to get me first in line, jumping a lengthy queue, I still had a major struggle getting in, in time for Maggie's set, with the person in charge of the venue, only giving photographers one song to shoot, instead of our usual designated three. This didn't work too well for me, as I didn't end up in the best place for shooting, so came away a bit disappointed.
I'd hoped a midnight set from Scotland's Catholic Action at Latitude 30 would raise my spirits, but I called it a day after the appearance of their track Rita Ora. I was enjoying their showcase, but fancied an early night after a fairly quiet evening, followed by a long lie, so I'd be refreshed for my Saturday gig going, starting with a midday performance from Dream Wife.