SXSW Day Two - 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.
I decided to spend the majority of the afternoon of my second day at SXSW "Rockin' out", heading along to the Dirty Dog bar for the Relentless vs Clash event.
Bristol's Turbowolf were the first band on the bill, rewarding the handful of people able to roll out of bed by midday with their turbo charged brand of Electro Rock.
After Turbowolf's energetic set I popped over to the Radio Room, directly across the street, to watch Brooklyn bohemians Au Revoir Simone. I've seen the girl trio on a few occasions, originally coming across them as I waited for Tilly And The Wall to take to take to the stage of Latitude 30 at my first SXSW four years ago.
The sun was streaming through the windows for Au Revoir Simone's set creating an excellent atmosphere for their laid back keyboard led offerings. Mind you it wasn't so good for taking pictures as I had a hard time battling with the sunlight!
The girls have a new album "Still night still light" out in the next couple of months so took the opportunity to debut tracks from the release during their performance.
It would have been nice to have heard a couple more older songs, especially singles but I enjoyed hearing the new material and the girls are always fun to watch.
I returned to the Dirty Dog bar just in time to watch the last couple of songs from Micachu And The Shapes. My tired eyes and deafened ears may have been playing tricks on me but Micachu and chums seemed to sound a lot harder than they did during the previous day's performance on Ms Bea's sunny patio.
Derry's Fighting With Wire were next on the bill.
The Irish three piece rattled out several songs from album "Man vs Monster" to a slightly busier venue.
I had originally decided to plonk myself down in the Dirty Dog bar for the afternoon as I wanted to ensure I had a decent spot to photograph Hollywood's Juliette Lewis. Juliette has recently disbanded The Licks, forming Juliette And The New Romantiques.
I can't say I noticed much difference as she did pull from her back catalogue and her bluesy rock vocal delivery sounded pretty much the same. Juliette is a great frontwoman for a basic Rock And Roll band as she always throws everything into her performance. So for that I have to praise her highly!
Hardcore heroes Gallows were headlining the afternoon's event. They're very good at what they do but are a bit too serious for my liking so I decided to get some fresh air, heading back to my hotel for an hour to prepare for the evening showcases.
While flicking through the SXSW pocket guide I noticed that New York's Nellie McKay was playing at St David's Church on 7th Street at 7pm. I loved her set at Wireless Festival last year so made a dash to the venue. I was just about to enter after standing in line for a while when it was announced that the performance was going to be pushed back to seven thirty as the performer after Nellie had cancelled.
This was extremely disappointing as it wasn't going to be worth my while hanging around as I had to get up to La Zona Rosa which was a lengthy walk away for a set at the back of eight.
I gave up on Nellie and slowly made my way up to La Zona Rosa. LZR is one of my favourite Austin venues but it's a bit of a trek to get to from the main drag.
I arrived just before Tyrone Wells took to the stage. I had no idea who he was but the venue was heaving down the front with fans of the man shouting out their adoration. Having done a bit of checking after the fact it seems he's just released his second major album "Remain", having collaborated with a variety of writers, including people who have helped pen tracks for KT Tunstall and Snow Patrol.
At times he's similar in style to Daughtry (or maybe it's just the bald head!) and has a few tracks in his canon that have soundtracked US TV shows.
One of the reasons for making a trip to La Zona Rosa was to see what Australia's Gabriella Cilmi was up to in the USA. Having had success in the UK she's now turned her attention to the American people and this was one of her first performances Stateside. I overheard a couple of catty comments from girls in the front row when she took to the stage but it didn't take too long before she had won over the packed venue, especially with her performance culminating in a gloriously delivered cover of Led Zeppelin's "Whole lotta love".
There's no denying Gabriella's "Sweet about me" is a classic Pop song but I believe she's better than the material on her debut album. She's basically a Rock Chick at heart so her record company should be looking for songs that show her voice off in the best possible light.
Erin McCarley's "Love save the empty" is one of my favourite albums of 2009. She's reminiscent of Sara Bareilles, with the same ear for a good tune and gorgeous vocals. LZR is one of only a handful of Austin venues to utilise a photo pit. This is great when you want to get close to the performers but not so good when you have to leave after your three song limit.
I was loving my time in the pit, snapping away and adoring Erin's performance but struggled to make a connection with the set once I'd left as the venue was heaving as Tori Amos was next up, so I couldn't find a decent spot to stand near the action. I still really enjoyed the whole set but it would have been a better experience in a slightly more empty venue. I'm sure she'll make the inevitable trip across to London to play Bush Hall or Water Rats at some point so I'll just have to wait till then for my next Erin fix!
Photographers were only granted one song in the photo pit to shoot Tori Amos.
The place was heaving with "official" snappers so it was a bit of a scrum entering the pit. Once you stopped at your place at the front of the stage you were stuck as there was no chance in hell that you would be able to move! I was pretty lucky, ending up in a decent spot, getting good results from a fixed position.
I didn't hang around to see what Tori was up to after I left the pit as I had to make my way back down to 6th Street to attend the Hotel Cafe showcase at The Parish. Things were running pretty late when I got there which meant I was able to see part of Lenka's set and all of Meiko's but it also meant I still had to stand through sets from Greg Laswell and Cary Brothers. I'm a huge fan of female singer songwriters but it's very rare I have the same passion for the male equivalent.
Both Greg and Carey were good at what they do but just weren't for me, especially after midnight with extremely sore feet and tired eyes!
Sara Bareilles set at The Parish last year was my favourite performance of SXSW 2008.I was pretty sure lightning wouldn't strike twice but was still eagerly awaiting her appearance.
Sara was billed as a surprise "Special guest" this year. She's currently on the road with her band performing stripped down versions of tracks from her "Little voice" album and she brought a sample of this to the SXSW stage. When I say a sample I mean it was a fairly short set! Sara B is currently my favourite singer songwriter so I obviously appreciated every minute she was on stage but I did feel a little short changed, especially as my feet were bloody killing me!
It was still a great 20 minutes entertainment, with choice versions of tracks including "Love song", "Bottle it up" and a cover of U2's "I still haven't found what I'm looking for", complete with Sara's little tale of her Grammy's appearance, dancing on her own to U2's performance and failing to catch Bono's sun glasses when he threw them in her direction.
Scotland's Proclaimers were also billed as special guests but thank fuck I didn't turn up especially for their performance! The twins took to the stage to pimp their new single, a cover of "Seventeen" from Kings Of Leon", buggering off straight after! No "Letter from America", no "500 miles". The Proclaimers had left the building, leaving me slightly bemused.
The evening ended with several of the performers having a big onstage singalong, including a slightly tipsy Caitlin Crosby whose set I missed earlier in the evening.
As much as I've moaned about the Hotel Cafe show it was still a great nights entertainment so I walked home happy, but walking very slowly!