In the never-ending quest to find all things SXSW 2019 for Soundblab readers, your trusty reporter took to the high seas on Saturday (Well, OK, it was the Colorado River) to spotlight one of the more unusual performances of an unusual week. When you find yourself on the list of correspondents for SXSW, your email inbox goes into hyperdrive with invitations to performances, showcases and just hole-in-the-wall get-togethers from bands, PR firms, and record companies from around the globe. It is easy to get overwhelmed and somewhat frustrated at the sheer size of the assignment.
The Austin Convention Center is the main hub from which all of SXSW branches out. The massive building contains four levels of ballrooms, exhibition halls and meeting places, and has been completely jammed full of people all week. On Friday, two separate concert halls opened on the fourth floor. In one, it was a gathering of musicians from around the globe for an international get-together. In the other, various radio stations had joined forces to create “RadioDay”, which went out as a live broadcast over NPR and the sponsoring stations. Of course, as seems to be the norm, the two concerts were scheduled to run at the same time, even sharing break down and set up intervals between performances.
After some good nourishment and a night of solid sleep after SXSW Day 3, I decided to make Day 4 of the journey as full-immersion as possible. Sometimes plain old logistics can interfere with a master plan of which band you want to see playing where, and I decided to stretch the time-space continuum as much as possible to see just how much I could accomplish before sheer exhaustion once again set in.
If there is one part of SXSW that is rather maddening, it is that I am but a single human being who can only physically be in one place at a time. With so much good music being played in so many different places, it would be nice to be able to split up and get to more than one at the same time. Alas, that isn’t going to be happening anytime soon, so it is a matter of searching through endless lists of performances and cherry picking what will be the best place to be at a given time. Day three was like that, and I thought it worked out rather well.
It is almost impossible to go anywhere in Austin during the SXSW festival without encountering live music. Hotel lobbies, pop up eateries that were parking lots the day before, urban sidewalks and even rolling flatbed trucks all sound out with artists demonstrating their talent and love of music.
2012 saw the release of Yours Truly Cellophane Nose; a rather gorgeous collection of dreamy folk and musical ingenuity that introduced us to Newcastle Upon-Tyne singer-songwriter Beth Jeans Houghton.
ESG are legendary, a hugely influential and inspirational band that are as relevant today as they were some 40 years ago at the start of their career.
I’ve been listening to The Lemonheads for a long time, the likes of It’s a Shame About Ray and Come On Feel have been on fairly heavy rotation since I first heard them. The melodic indie stylings held within having provided something of a personal soundtrack for, give or take, the last 20 years. With that in mind, it would be fair to say that I’ve got pretty high hopes for tonight’s gig. No pressure then, Mr. Dando.
Perhaps with the addition of 'Ambient Reworkings' Group Listening's 2018 debut album ‘Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works, Vol. 1' would be perfectly titled, similarly and unsurprisingly that description is also entirely fitting for tonight’s performance too.
For all of us non-philosophy majors out there, trust me when I say a Monday night in February would be a perfect one to cop a solipsistic mood. But with Pinegrove in town after nearly three years away it was nothing but peace, love, and understanding between frontman Evan Stephens Hall and a decidedly non-Monday night crowd. My third time seeing them (and first since 2016), it’s safe to say they weren’t sitting on their asses during their year long hiatus from the public given the level of their performance.
- Mark Moody
If anticipation is worth the release, a sold-out crowd on hand for night three of Car Seat Headrest’s inaugural Florida run was ready to uncoil. Plans to pogo to Will Toledo’s deeply personal but also relatable songs were being bandied about as the appropriately anxious fans started to pack in. Maybe not a bad strategy given the metal poles interspersed throughout the club to keep the upper portion of the building from collapsing on us.
- Mark Moody