SXSW 2016 - Thursday - Austin, Texas
South By South West is an industry-based music conference/festival located in Austin, Texas. An average of 2,500 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.
2016's Music Keynote speaker was legendary producer Tony Visconti. The morning event, held at Austin's Convention Centre, proved a real draw, but enthusiastic fans left the talk scratching their heads after what they'd witnessed.
The first half of Tony's speech was extremely informative, as he talked about his early years as a producer and his first meetings with David Bowie. The event took a strange turn midway however, as he decided to 'treat' the audience to a reading of a short story he'd written, concerning the Music Business in the future. It was fairly dire, with Tony's delivery not helping matters, and felt like a real wasted opportunity, as people were there to hear about his thoughts on music and production, not a badly written tale.
After Tony's talk it was time for my daily long walk up to Spotify House, my last visit of 2016.
I wanted to have a decent spot for Chvrches early evening headline show, but wasn't certain I wanted to hang around all day. There wasn't a huge amount elsewhere that felt worth the lengthy trek there and back, so I decided to stick around at Spotify.
It seemed the right decision as the standard of acts seemed to make the afternoon go quicker, especially Jean-Philip Grobler's band - St. Lucia, who were great live and very exciting to watch.
I've encountered Scottish trio Chvrches on a few occasions over the years, but I can honestly say their Spotify set was the best I've seen them live, in part, due to singer Lauren Mayberry's newly found stage presence.
While once content to shoogle her microphone cable every so often, Lauren has transformed into a force to be reckoned with, covering every inch of the stage, captivating the crowd with every move.
The band's second album Every Open Eye has also given the trio more gems to add to their set, meaning I got the best of their output in the truncated Spotify headliner, especially closers 'Clearest Blue', and my favourite track of 2013 - 'The Mother We Share'.
I had nothing on my schedule for the first half of my evening, so decided to head along to The Majestic earlier than planned, where I was due to watch a set from Lissie around 11pm.
I took in a fun showcase from Country singer Bonnie Bishop while waiting, sitting at the back while a duo performed after her.
The pair will remain nameless, but I don't think I've ever heard someone whine more at a gig! There was a bit of noise bleed coming from either a DJ or a Dance act elsewhere, with one or both band members complaining between every song. I appreciate it may be annoying, but it's SXSW, so there's always issues to resolve, or live with. The moaning was constant throughout the set, and I'm sure the phrase "Real Music" was thrown in at least once. I couldn't tell you any of their songs a week later, but I won't forget those whiners in a hurry!
The Dance beats were still prominent when Lissie took to the stage, but she didn't complain once, instead delivering a top notch showcase spotlighting tracks from current album My Wild West, with a few oldies and her Kid Cudi cover thrown into the mix for good measure.
My evening ended with a quick visit to Stubbs to shoot a couple of songs from Jake Bugg, jumping on a pedicab to Hype Hotel, for Charli XCX's show straight after.
Charli was performing with DJ Sophie, and had drawn a large crowd for the event. I can usually manage to squeeze near the front to shoot at the venue, but it was hopeless this time round.
It was nice to hear 'Boom Clap' live again, but I didn't get much in the way of pictures, so really felt the long walk back to my hotel.