Fatea's Gary Rose and his friends make an annual pilgrimage to SXSW in Austin. This is Gary's Festival Diary
Four of us arrived in Houston having endured a succession of b-rated movies on the 10 hour flight from Heathrow. The usual marvellous welcome to the US with a one and a half hour queue care of the slowest workers on the planet, also known as the US Border Control. The only reason our particular queue moved after this time was that our designated sloth was nearing lunch. Anyhow, once through, a bus trip to the Alamo car hire centre and a self-service 'anything in this bay, sir' resulted in a baby Jeep as our hire car. The next 3 hours with no Satnav only a map and some scant instructions got us finally to Austin after driving through some spectacular torrential rain, thunderstorms and fork lightening.
After check-in and weary from the long haul, it was beer and dinner next to our hotel at one of music venues, Threadgills.
After a battery re-charge it was off on foot (alien most of the year round in these parts) for some brekky scram at Magnolia's, about a 1-mile hike up Congress. No obvious sign of any SXSW music yet other than the usual resident bands in the local clubs and bars so if we were ever going to get to San Antonio this was the day to do it. The drive down was great and the weather did not disappoint, sun all the way. Two venues were quickly agreed upon to see which took in both the Alamo memorial and museum and the Riverside walk. Back to Austin and a bite to eat at the best burger diner in town, Huts. Another day without live music sadly, but at least some history and sites were experienced. I need more time in San Antonio and especially the vast San Marcos outlet mall we passed on the freeway. Maybe next year!
That evening we visited the Saxon pub on South Lamar to see The Resentments a 5-piece alternative country roots rock band, formed by Stephen Bruton (regular in Kris Kristofferson's band). Saxon Pub regulars. Good live entertainment. Some shenanigans at the hotel that night resulting a few room changes and a wardrobe scene best left in Austin, we moved onto the next day!
The morning took in the statutory trip to Waterloo Records for some CD's and collectables and back to deposit our wares. This was followed by a trip to Hooters for some beer and leer and then onto BD Rileys Irish bar on 6th Street. Playing at the front was Suzanne Smith singing primarily covers songs, occasionally getting a reaction from us only to work out who sung the original, essentially average pop background music.
Later on needing some sustenance we headed over to the exquisite Fogo de Chao somewhat posh Brazilian meat fest. Great scram. Passing by Latitude 30 and a SXSW British Film Party was in full swing. Remarkably we sauntered in and blagged entry based on having 'music' wristbands but most notably knowing and reacquainting ourselves with the bouncer.
It worked and in we went to see: Foy Vance, who happened to be on our flight; Claim to fame songs included in season 2 of Greys Anatomy as well as a TV commercial for Great Ormond Street. An acoustic guitarist songwriter with a good voice and impressive range. A modern day Gilbert O'Sullivan.
Next up The Wonder Villians a 4-piece indie pop band from Northern Ireland comparisons with Scouting for Girls/New Young Pony Club. Energetic vocals and playful synths combined with guitars result in a youthful sound but not quite altogether as a unit.
Cashier No. 9 where next up, a band missed last year. A six handed band with catchy, swaggering numbers and a good live performance in Latitude.
Avoiding discussing a trip to the local Whataburger followed by Hooters again where else, it was off to town. A quick check in the Convention centre, however we were now entering the Interactive nerd zone, so a speedy exit was required. Back up town to Waterloo records for some in-store music from Delta Spirit. For anyone who has not listened to this band, you are missing out, check them out! A 5-piece Indie Rock/Americana group from San Diego although the lead singer is from Austin as he explained during the session.
They combine together to make a great sound, now very much polished from a few years ago and their first album, which was great anyway. Now releasing a 3rd, titled the same, which has had a few plays but too early to judge having loved their earlier 2 albums. Always a good sign though.
A few drinks at the Opal Divine bar open air balcony overlooking the uptown part of 6th Street was followed by a trip to Stubbs. Having miraculously blagged VIP entry to this much sought after interactive party, 3 of us and tag-along Aussie scaled the stairs to the VIP balcony and free bar to witness initially, Twin Atlantic from Scotland.
This Glasgow quartet were the pre-cursor to Kasabian, rock stabbing guitars comprising vocalist Sam McTrusty's was a good intro to the main event for us, although Miike Snow was the party headline. Next up the irrepressible Kasabian who of course need no introduction.
The boys from Leicester on and off stage, were simply amazing. Tom Meighan led a brilliant show incorporating songs from Velociraptor as well as some of their classics. There must have been a fan base present, Brits no doubt, which helped with the atmosphere throughout.
Some of the Americans nearby could be heard saying 'like, who are they, Kass-ay-abbey-on, who are they?' T'was a tad annoying. I trust they knew by the end but looking at some I suspect not!
Onto a packed Latitude and from outside watched a little bit of the very loud Future Of The Left a band we actually get to see later on.
Picture 1:Foy Vance
Picture 2:The Wonder Villians
Picture 3:Cashier No.9
Picture 4:Delta Spirit
Be The Song
The Fatea Showcase Sessions are a series of downloads featuring acts that we've really enjoyed and think that more people should get the chance to hear.
Click Here to get the latest session