SXSW 2019 - Wednesday - Austin, Texas
South By Southwest is an industry-focused music conference/festival located in Austin, Texas. More than 2000 acts play over a period of six 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. Our man Lorne Thomson spent the week there dashing from venue to venue to snap as much of the action as possible. Here's his account (and gallery) of the third day.
My SX Wednesday began with another trip to Cheep Up Charlies, for day two of Stereogum Range Life.
Stand outs included a fun performance from US Pop sensation Sir Babygirl, complete with energetic dancers, and a return SX visit from Charly Bliss.
I'd first encountered the Brooklyn band a couple of years earlier in Austin, impressed with the set I viewed, as I loved the spikey grunge-tinged tracks on offer, embracing album Guppy on release.
I'd managed to attend a fantastic London gig since, so was eagerly awaiting their Charlies set, especially as I was curious about their new sound, as there's now a bit of 80's electro-pop in the mix, judging by recent singles.
The band didn't disappoint, delivering an exuberant performance, pulled from their debut and forthcoming album Young Enough, with highlights including 'Percolator' and 'Chatroom'.
My evening began with an intimate candlelit set at Central Presbyterian Church from multi-platinum songwriter Ross Golan, spending the remainder of my night at the Neon Gold showcase at Empire Garage.
The NG event is always worth attending, with 2019 no exception, delivering my favourite discovery of the week, in the shape of New Jersey singer/ songwriter Donna Missal.
I'd come across Donna perusing the countless videos from SX acts on offer. while I'd made a note of her name, I hadn't gone out of my way to seek her out, so was blown away by her passionate performance, with a powerhouse voice that soared, making the audience roar their approval.
Although Donna was a revelation, the outstanding set of the night came from Danish pop band, and firm Fix favourites Alphabeat.
Our paths first crossed in May 2007, when the six-piece started gigging in London, making their debut at Water Rats. While big back home, the group initially performed to tiny audiences in intimate venues, delivering energetic, hook-filled sets that couldn't help win new fans each time they played.
I caught countless shows from the band around that period, immensely enjoying their self titled album on release.
While still a fan, my interest waned slightly with albums two and three, as there was more of a dance element to their music, so I wasn't as keen on a lot of the tracks, but I was still really disappointed when they called it a day in 2013.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a new track from the group entitled 'Shadows' pop up on my Release Radar Spotify playlist at the beginning of March, especially as it was the Alphabeat sound that I knew and loved, so was over the moon on spotting their appearance in Austin a few days later, making it my "must see" gig of the week!
This was the band's first gig since reforming. They may have been slightly anxious after being away for so long but they were completely embraced by fans new and old.
It was a real joy hearing tracks like '10,000 Nights of Thunder', 'Boyfriend' and 'What Is Happening' again in the live arena, with 'DJ', 'The Spell' and their current single also shining, with their faultless high energy set ending with an extended 'Fascination', the group's biggest UK single to date.
It really was a tremendous showcase, catapulting the band's set into my Top 5 SXSW performances of all time, alongside Amy Winehouse at La Zona Rosa, Janelle Monae at Brush Square Park, a midnight "Greatest Hits' set from Spandau Ballet at the intimate Vulcan Gas Company, and the Shangri-Las Mary Weiss at Red 7.