SXSW Day Three - A Review In Pictures - Austin Texas
South By South West is an industry based Music Conference / Festival located in Austin Texas. An average of 1,500 bands play over a period of four 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.
My third day of SXSW was the least entertaining of the four.
Things got off to a good start checking out Australian acts over in the Brush Square tent. I was there to watch Gabriella Cilmi for the second time this week and she put on another stellar performance, with her closing cover of Led Zeppelin's "Whole lotta love" blowing the crowd away again.
I was kind of thumb twiddling for the remainder of the afternoon as the next thing I wanted to see wasn't till 5pm over at Flamingo's Cantina as part of Under The Radar magazine's party. I decided to go along early, even though I had a couple of hours to kill, entering just as Loney Dear was winding up his set. I had no real interest in the two bands that followed on the bill and can't say I took in much of either performance.
Brooklyn's Chairlift have had a bit of a buzz in the UK press recently.I've listened to the album but it didn't pull me in. Their set was okay but due to scheduling problems they had to cut their set short without playing their most famous song "Bruises", even though it featured on their set list.
Jason Lytle ex lead singer of US band Grandaddy followed Chairlift. I didn't pay much attention to the songs played but I couldn't fail to notice the garish picture Jason fixed to the wall, placing it there for anyone looking for inspiration as it showed anything's possible.
It was finally time for Camera Obscura to take to the stage. Occasionally dour lead singer Tracyanne Campbell asked the audience "Do we look really grumpy?" I didn't notice any change anyway and the band seemed to be enjoying promoting forthcoming release "My Maudlin Career", playing a handful of tracks from the album, including new single "French Navy". Tracyanne suffered from a slightly muddy vocal sound but it was still great to watch them live again. Even though I yearned for them to drop "Eighties fan" into their set I was still happy enough to get my first live airing of tracks from their future collection, especially as the songs sat really well alongside old favourites from breakthrough album "Lets get out of this country".
I was struggling to decide what showcases to watch as the evening approached. Metallica were playing a secret show at Stubbs, a venue that only holds around 2000 people, but I knew it would be jam packed and I'd have to get there around 8 for the 10pm kick off, wasting the early part of the evening. Erin McCarley, one of my highlights of the previous day was playing around 10.30 but I'd also have to get there fairly early to obtain a front row spot for photographs.
In the end I decided to attend the Scottish Arts Council event at La Zona Rosa in the hope of getting some sellable shots. Scottish newspaper The Daily Record had published one of my Proclaimers pictures from their British Music Embassy show on the Tuesday the day before so thought they might be interested in some other fellow Scots. Unfortunately my plans were dashed as La Zona Rosa offered up some pretty hideous light states for the best part of the evening, even though it normally offers great photo friendly lighting, leaving me with not much to offer picture wise.
We Were Promised Jetpacks opened the Scottish event.
The Glasgow indie band sounded lively enough but contained a singer with a complete lack of stage presence and possibly negative charisma, making them extremely dull to watch. As the set rolled on their frontman did get a tiny bit more animated as he roared out a couple of songs but by then it was too late as I had lost interest in what they were up to, retreating back to the bar for a beer.
Fellow Glaswegians Dananananaykroyd were the complete opposite of Jetpacks. With so much running about on stage it was a struggle to focus on the action.
The band were a noisy, fun watch, delivering their "Fight Pop" to an impressed audience but let themselves down on a couple of occasions whining about the photographers in the photo pit. SXSW is a media based festival so there's always going to be people photographing or filming performances. If they weren't up for that perhaps they should have stayed in Scotland.
I was extremely surprised to see the venue heaving for Camera Obscura's performance, even the photo pit was pretty full. The band were on great form again and I enjoyed the set even more than the one in the afternoon.
The Proclaimers were up next. The crowd had thinned slightly by the time they took to the stage, running through a similar set to the one I watched three days earlier. It was a good mix of old and new material with "Letter from America" always a joy to hear especially.
Primal Scream were headlining the Scottish showcase but Glasvegas would be my final band of the night at the venue. I'm not a fan of Glasvegas and always get the impression that they're a bit too big for their boots these days. The lighting for the first three songs was an epileptic's nightmare, leaving the numerous photographers in the pit scratching their heads. Luckily there were one or two seconds of decent light so I closed my eyes and hoped for the best! I had no intention of hanging around for the rest of the set so left the venue in search of something better.
I had intended to see The Bird And The Bee over on 7th Street but I couldn't find the venue. I contemplated another couple of showcases, in the end deciding on my second set of the week from Brooklyn girls Au Revoir Simone at Maggie Mae's.
The venue was heaving so I squeezed my way to the front to try and get a decent space. As luck would have it Maggie Mae's had roped off a section at the front of the stage for photographers since my last visit so I was able to relax on the steps at the front of the stage until the show kicked off around twenty minutes later. Au Revoir Simone's performance was a great way to end the evening as it was a fairly laid back, well humored set and a further introduction to the tracks from the trio's forthcoming keyboard led album.