If you’ve been paying close attention to our Twitter then you’ll know that there’s been some serious out-of-hours messaging going on recently. That’s because last week we dispatched a convoy to Austin, Texas for the world’s biggest new music festival – South By South West. Basing ourselves at the British Music Embassy, we were out there doing our bit to intro our American compadres to the UK’s finest new talent. What follows is one man’s testimony of what he saw at SXSW 2016. The first bit is frankly nonsense – the 2016 equivalent of “What I did on my holidays” or trawling through your mate’s holiday snaps. The second half contains some genuine insight into the bands we came away lovin’ the socks off…
…by the time I got to Saturday afternoon my body broke. I had to take to my Airstream trailer and watch old episodes of Father Ted just to get some energy back. Four straight nights watching the best new bands in the world jacked up on Mountain Dew had begun to take their toll. Hands up, there are some sherbets flying about too. While Charlie XCX went about making history at the Hype Hotel, I was bothering Stromzy and recreating the scene from “The Birth Of Manchester“…
If what goes down at night is pretty full on then what you see during the day on East 6th (the main drag down the centre of Austin) in no way aids mental recovery. I saw a man dressed as Fu Manchu, though not in a fun way, more as if that was just as if that was what he wore every Thursday afternoon. He politely obliged to pose for pictures though he looked completely bewildered as to why children were requesting photographs with him. He was also about 7-foot tall and a bit scary looking which is why there’s no picture of him here. Another bloke just wore a pair of Y-fronts.
But as much as the people of Austin like to mix it up sartorially, they are a bloody good music crowd. Band’s that have only just started to grow a following in the UK get whooped-whooped and hollered like global house-hold names. Rest assured the best of British deserved every plaudit they received. Here’s some of our highlights from the British Embassy afternoon line-ups and beyond…
St. Lucia – These guys brought their erudite electro pop to a massive crowd at Stubbs outdoor BBQ. Cheers for the open bar gang!
The People The Poet – Springsteen fuelled rock straight from The Valleys. Plus, incredible sheep banter – flock off! We saw these guys 3 times across the week – every time a pleasure.
Holly Macve – Despite a curtailed set at Elysium, nothing could disguise the beguiling magic of this woman’s music. Both her cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” and her own material offered serenity in a world of chaos.
Barnes Courtney – It turns out that we got chatting to Courtney in London pub just a couple of months ago but he never told us he could play like this. We caught him at Lambert’s. Turns out he’s a blues-rock juggernaut!
Violet Skies – Off-stage – the sweetest lady you could ever wish to chat to. On-stage – terrifyingly talented. Humongous emotive-pop anthems.
Fickle Friends – We saw these guys play on Friday afternoon. By that point fragility had set in and frankly our emotional state was not ready for joyous celebration that is a Fickle Friends show. Gave everything. Prouder than ever to have them as one of our 2016 Ones To Watch.
Later that night we hit the Apple House where Jazzy Jeff laid it down like a good ‘un setting it up for Skepta & Stromzy to lift the roof. I did not approach Stromzy on this occasion.
Fizzy Blood – Tipped off by ones of the guys at TicketWeb’s Manchester HQ (cheers Rick!). Ballsy, melodic hardcore and we can’t wait to hear more of them.