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And off we go again. On my own for the first few shows, head to Flamingo Cantinas to see Pompei, then off to the outdoor stage at Palm Door on Sixth to see the boy wonder band Years and Years. The lead singer is basically George Michael Wham-Era, looks about 15. Already big in UK and will be big everywhere soon with their easy dance toons. He is too happy to be real though.

Back into the Conference centre to see great Spanish band Macacao followed by Houndmouth on the stage. Eve has rejoined me at this point and the day is bubbling along without anything spectacular so far. We head to Red 7 to see Frog Eyes, an old favorite of mine, but first we catch another buzz band. Chastity Belt. Dreadful all girl band. Unfortunately Frog Eyes live are not a lot like Frog Eyes on vinyl. The magic touch has deserted me at this point. Try another hyped outfit next to get back on the rails, Cathedrals, who in name and sound are not a million miles away from Churches. Another okay thirty minutes just.

At this point in the day, seven bands in, I needed to see brilliance, with no room for possible disappointment, so off to see the band I named best act of SXSW 2014, San Fermin, at Cheer UP Charlies. They were again special, although they have a new female lead singer who is not as good as the original. Still things took a turn for the very better. Also saw the hardest working person from SXSW this year. The saxophonist also plays with Great Caesar. Between both bands he will have played over a dozen shows in a few days. And he is good.

Eve rejoins the fray and we head to one of my new band must sees, Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders at the Parish. Could be a lankier son of Nick Cave, in hair style and voice. Great show and in his guitarist I find the standout individual star of the week, more on him later.

One great service offered to the fortunates who have a badge, which already means they can have preferable front of line status at every venue, is a super enhanced version of the same for only one venue each day. This Express pass ticket, which you must apply for and pick up each day from the conference centre, allows you to get into any venue at any time once that evening, thereby guaranteeing you seeing your absolutely not to be missed choice daily. We only needed to use it once and this was the night. Eve wanted to see Mystery Skulls. Who I hear being asked? Well this one man electro dance band have been a youtube sensation thanks to a basic Scooby Doo like animation to accompany their song Ghost. It has had over 6 million views. Given all that we got the Express pass for it, although I was skeptical of the need I was wrong. Massive queue to get in at the Main formerly the famous venue Emo’s. The pass worked. We walked right in. Eve loved it, but he didn’t even play the bloody song. Watch it here.


You may think that he appears to be just pressing buttons on his Mac. I thought so too.

We then had a bit of a treat, thanks to good friend Tim and his pal, we got VIP backstage passes for Flood’s Cedar Courtyard shows all week.

A great few hours followed. First up the ear destroying wall of noise from Metz, then the madness rock gods that are King Tuff and then the most talked about artist of the week Courtney Barnett. King Tuff killed it, stunning. Here is our above stage view as the main man holds his geetar in his mouth, as you do in moments like this.

I must have been the only person who did not find Courtney Barnett brilliant that night. Must be me. I will check.

It is now 1 am. Last show of the night, Eve and I head to Esther’s Follies again to see Jukebox The Ghost again. I would describe them as an edgier Hall and Oates for 2015. Eve went down the front of the stage and danced with the crowd. I hung back in a seat and danced with the finest G&T of SXSW. A good day, after a subdued start, comes to an end.


Of all the days that I do not want to start, this is the main one. Because it is the second last day. Because it is usually my favorite day of the week. Because Eve would be leaving next day. So I knew once it started it would feel like I would be going to sleep and it was over. Thus prepared I was determined to make it an amazing day in any way I could. Here is my attempt.

In to the convention centre to watch a couple of bands I knew well. First up Twin Shadow who is a great electronic indie pop act. Not today, it was him and his acoustic guitar, pretty good reinvention of himself.

At what point does a band stop being a band and become a franchise? One of my favourites bands from my own college days were Gang Of Four, best band ever to come and play at my Glasgow College Of Technology when I was there. Today they play Austin, but maybe as many have pointed out they should have been renamed the Gang Of One as only Andy Gill, the legendary guitarist is in this band now. The others look like his grandkids. They were very good though and to hear Damaged Goods live one more time from bits of the original band was still extra special.

By now the doom warnings of torrential rain were getting perilously close to becoming reality. Still it was only spitting when Eve, Al and I took up our VIP seats next to the stage of Fader Fort ( I know, one obnoxious pain in the arse!). Next up would be on of my hot tips for the week. They were The District. They were young ( another thing I noticed about many of the acts this week, funnily enough). They were blisteringly good. Big Hair too. Buy their album.

I include this particular image as I have a small fanbase amongst the recipients of these reviews who crave more blurred images in homage to my almost unviewable images from SXSW years gone by.

Thunderstorm alert was then announced from the stage and we were warned that the venue could be evacuated as thunder and lightening approached. Getting noticeably colder the less world travelled in our group ( Eve, Al) decided to head back to the hotel to get warmer clothing and jackets. I stepped into the street to check things out. The sky opened and more rain than even I had seen in Orkney’s wettest storms poured out. I went back to the venue to be told that nobody was being admitted for safety reasons. Thanks for that. I then walked through the cloudburst meeting many mad people on the way. After all there is only so much wet that you can become.

Dried out, clothes change, I head to answer the Courtney Barnett question by going to see her at the Convention Centre. I was right, nothing special, emperor’s new etc.

I cross over to the Brush Square tent to see who is playing at the Aussie BBQ. It is none other than the crazy guitarist from Jack Ladder’s band, Kirin J Callinnan. I find it impossible to describe his show. Freaky guitar solos, child like poetry, call and answer songs, and as much talking in between songs as actually playing. Whatever it is , it is special, the most original twenty minutes of the week. Need to see more!

Remember I did not want Friday to start, well it is now Friday night and the evening shows are starting. :(

Another Hot Pick where a band that I had described as a bit early Depeche Mode, a bit Kraftwerk and a lot of Korean Pop, a two man tour de force, if you can still use that cliche, from South Korea with another terrible band name, I give you the amazing From The Airport. I think they could become pretty big.

Then the evening sort of run away from Eve and I. We saw Baby Baby at Sledgehammer not bad rocky pop. Then watched Blind Pets at Valhalla completely destroy their two guitars on the third song of their set bringing their show to a strange point, we left so do not know what happened next. Then we went to SXSW’s tiniest venue the 720 Patio which is basically a shoe box, kids size, to see first Swearing at Motorists, agreeable, then the third in our Support The Scottish Band crusade, Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire. They were the most commercial of the three Scottish acts we saw, a little bit The National, a little bit Americana, worth checking out. No room for spectators either once they took the stage. Tiny.

That would have been a good place to draw a line in the sand for Eve, who was flagging, ending on a Scottish high, but no, I dragged her to see a band that I had meant to see many times but for some reason had not managed it, The Twilight Sad, also from Glasgow. Having watched about twelve minutes of them close up, I now realize my previous decisions to not see them were based on sound judgement. Dull band.

So with that Eve headed to pack, sleep etc. This was us above King Tuff on Thursday night.

But it was midnight on Friday, I had to have another few bites at the day. I met up with Simon, Dave and the crew to see Will Butler of Arcade Fire. This was a special show too, great fun and some stunning tunes.

If your feet are smarting, your legs ache, your body wanting basically to go to bed, where better to address all of that than by another 1am show at Esther’s Follies. This time to see another band that had been my band of SXSW in the past, in 2013, I believe, The Eastern Sea were in top form, as usual.

Here endeth Part Two of the review. The third and final part, will cover Saturday as well as an overview of my favourite bands, my duds and songs that I recommend you go out and buy straightaway.