SXSW 2011 - Day Four - A Review In Pictures - Austin Texas
South By South West is an industry based music conference / festival located in Austin, Texas. An average of 1500 bands play over a period of five 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 was up early for my SX Friday as I had an 11am appointment with Yoko Ono! Yoko was giving an interview over at the Convention Centre and I joined a host of photographers shooting the first two minutes of her arrival. We were slightly duped as normally the interviewer tends to sit on our left hand side of the stage, with the guest on the right. Yoko switched things up leading to the majority of us crouched in the wrong place but she turned our way on a few occasions so all was not lost.
I hung around the centre for a couple of hours, catching up with things online and sorting out pictures from the previous day, grabbing some free food at the Barabados Music Talent Show on my way to Pure Volume House where they were holding the Buzznet Kiss Me Deadly Party. I had enjoyed my time at the venue the previous day so decided to spend my afternoon at the club again, taking in a fistful of female fronted acts, with New York Garage Rockers The Indecent opening proceedings.
The noisy four piece released their debut album Her Screwed Up Head last year and were just the thing to start the afternoon clearing out the cobwebs from the night before! The band looked extremely young and slightly nervous onstage and I'm not sure if family members geeing them along helped matters. The band sounded tight with a pretty good sound so they just have to gain a tiny bit more confidence and they'll be raring to go!
Confidence was one thing the next singer wasn't lacking in as Kitten (real name Chloe Chaidez fact fans) completely threw herself into her performance, thrashing around the floor and producing lots of "hair action". The 16 year old was a big hit at last year's SXSW with Spin magazine declaring her "‘Best new discovery of SXSW".
I had given the singer's mini album / EP (?) Sunday School a couple of spins last year but I wasn't pulled in by the contents and the sound at PVH was a bit muddy so her set didn't completely win me over. That being said, there was no denying that Kitten didn't deliver an energetic and exciting show so she's certainly worthy of more of my attention further down the line. Sunday School is released in the UK at the beginning of May so I'll maybe have the opportunity to catch another live date at that point.
Texas band Eisley followed the whirling dervish. I had dipped into the group's back catalogue a few years previously, liking what I'd heard but not really pursuing my interest any further so I was curious to see what the band were up to live.
The group consists of four siblings and their cousin, with Sherri DuPree and Stacy DuPree sharing lead vocals. Things had been quiet on the Eisley album front for a few years after their release from Warners but the band managed to get funding together to put out their third album - The Valley. on Equal Vision Records earlier this month. I've given the album a few listens since the show and it's a huge grower. I wasn't that fussed by the band's performance to begin with as the vocals seemed really low down in the mix. Luckily this was rectified by the third or fourth song once audience members had told the singers they couldn't hear them and with the louder vocals the show became much more enjoyable, impressing me immensely by the end.
The main reason I had pitched my tent up at PVH was to take in another set by Swedish New Wave Rockers The Sounds. I had viewed their first SX set of the week just a couple of hours after I landed in Austin on the Monday and fuelled by holiday excitement and free alcohol I was blown away by their performance.
I've seen countless London shows from the band over the years so always know what to expect but there were a few new surprises during their Austin stint as the band have shiny new selection of songs to play as their fourth album Something To Die For is imminent. The new release looks likely to be a real feather in the band's cap as tracks previewed like "Better off dead" and the title track all show a sign of progression whilst retaining the energy the band have delivered over their previous three collections.
Of course there was plenty of time for old favourites alongside the new songs on display and the group had been blessed with a large throng of excitable fans down the front screaming every word back to lead singer Maja Ivarsson who was on fire alongside the rest of her band. This was the five piece's final Austin show and they were really going for broke. I had enjoyed Monday's set a lot, especially as it was a good night for photographs but the PV gig was something more unique, possibly as it was a lot more intimate and was probably the best show I've seen The Sounds play in years!
I was very tempted to hang around to view Estonian singer Kerli as I'd seen her play back home a few years previously and she had been very interesting, especially as she had gloves that fired lasers from them! Sadly I couldn't stay as I had to head elsewhere. I enjoyed my two days at Pure Volume House. Their lighting was a bit odd and slightly challenging for a photographer but the line ups both days had certainly made the club worth attending so I'm sure I'll be back again in 2012.
I'd left PVH to try and get to The FADER FORT by FIAT by quarter to seven as I was hoping to shoot Rap band Odd Future. I actually managed to get there with half an hour to spare but there was a lengthy line to get in via the Media entrance so it was actually touch and go for a while.
I was eventually let in and legged it to the already crammed photo pit to take in the rapper's set. Odd Future seemed to be the act with the biggest buzz throughout the week. The LA Hip Hop collective go by the full name of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. The youthful crew have still to release their first album but have numerous mix tapes and solo collections available from their website.
This was certainly the most electric performance I'd encountered during my time in Austin, with the rappers prowling the stage like maniacs, threatening photographers and audience alike! I wasn't worried about the threat of violence, even though one of the rappers had given a crowd member a bloody nose earlier in the week, but I did keep a close eye on my camera equipment due to numerous attempts at stage diving from the band. Things turned even hairer when the guys decided to have a huge water fight with the assembled Fader masses but luckily I walked away dry and camera gear intact, smiling from ear to ear as it was a pretty amusing show!
I hung around the venue for an hour or so then took a trip to Latitude 30 for a beer, catching the end of a set from Welsh instrumental act Gallops...
and the beginning of Newcastle's Little Comets showcase.
It had been a fairly rowdy day so I felt in need of some lighter fare, so walked a few minutes to the Elephant Room as I knew local lass Kat Edmonson's showcase would be just the thing. I first encountered Kat at 2010's SX when she played a short set at the Convention Centre just before Smokey Robinson took to the stage to be interviewed. I was really moved by her Easy Listening Jazz renditions of tracks from the likes of The Cure, The Cardigans and John Lennon so picked up her album Take To the Sky the following day from Waterloo Records.
Kat was a joy to watch live at the Elephant Room and was looking fantastic with her new short haircut (an album number two do?). The singer has a unique voice, sounding a tiny bit like a more fragile version of The Cardigans Nina Persson. Kat refrained from playing covers the majority of the evening as she treated the crowd to a selection of tracks from her hopefully forthcoming sophomore release. I say hopefully as Kat's currently trying to scrape the cash together to continue recording it via Kickstarter. It would be a travesty if the album doesn't appear in the fall as the new songs sounded gorgeous.The singer played a track featuring the lines "Nobody knows that but me". I can't remember if it was an original as the night was wearing on but it was truly breathtaking (and available on You Tube to view!).
I nipped back to Latitude 30 after Kat's set to see what Ebsen And The Witch were up to but I got bored after one song so moved onto my next venue!...
My final act of the night was Brooklyn's Elizabeth And The Catapult over at Creekside at Hilton Garden Inn. I had viewed a secret show from Charlotte Church at the same venue a couple of night's previously that was sparsely attended but Elizabeth and Co had pulled in a few more punters for their Friday night bash.
I'd come across the band a few years previously when they'd requested my friendship via My Space! They were probably one of only a handful of bands that I've ever liked that contacted me using that method and I ended up purchasing their debut album Taller Children fairly soon after.
The band were originally a trio but I know they've had line up changes recently so I'm unsure if the two guys on stage were actiual band members or just helping out. I know Elizabeth was where she was meant to be though and she treated the audience to tracks from her debut and current release The Other Side Of Zero, including the title track of album number one, "Race you" and "You and me" (if I remember rightly!).
Elizabeth came across as an endearing character, just the right side of kooky and chatted to the audience on plenty of occasions, even asking for requests. I was desperate to shout for "Rainiest day of Summer" as it's a sumptious song but it was almost 2am and I couldn't quite remember if it was the correct title so didn't want to blurt it out! Sadly no one else knew what it was called either or they basically just didn't want to hear it so it remained unsung. I still came away from the show delighted that I'd finally caught Elizabeth and her boys live and I'll head along next time with the name of the song written down so there's no chance of error!