Okay, it’s taken a while, but we’ve been revelling in the relative quiet of the last week. A minor rebellion has taken place as we’ve been working on some of the other things that we do that aren’t UTR. Shh. Don’t tell anyone. (Rest assured, we’ve also been planning some cracking shows for the next few months. More soon.)
Thursday 13th March seems like an age away even though it is less than a month. But this was the day of our showcase. This post includes photos and videos. The videos are introduced by some little vignettes of our trip.
Yes, our showcase was on the back of a truck. Outside. In a car park. Somehow it worked.
First up was Hawnay Troof. Vice ripped it up as usual and broke out a new suit. Even at this early hour, there were willing participants (ok, some were willing, some may have been pushed) who made it up on the stage to join in. It was a perfect start. The eagle-eyed amongst you that were there will have noticed Rob Barber (High Places), Jona Bechtolt (YACHT) and George Chen (KIT etc etc) joining in. I was completely thrilled that other artists hung out at the showcase and that the bands stuck around to watch each other. It makes you think about the label in a completely different way. More on this later.
In a pretty dramatic change of pace, Gowns followed. This was the second set I had seen of theirs this afternoon. At Ms Bea’s earlier in the afternoon their performance had been almost unbearably intimate, with the wind catching Erika’s vocals, their vulnerability exacerbated by their exposure to the elements.
This set was more strident, and their sound fuller. They have a new line up, now a three piece with Corey Fogel returning on drums. Their overall sound is harsher, more poignant. You can see for yourselves.
I’d been looking forward to seeing Soiled Mattress and the Springs. We’d caught them doing slots at Mohawk the night before and spent part of two evenings catching up and drinking beer, so it felt doubly weird not to have seen them play their set.
And they were awesome. The exuberance of the record is ten-fold live as the band have an enormously physical presence. This is especially true of Matthew, whose bunny hops defied belief. I’m really looking forward to their tour in May.
Another Upset the Rhythm band who I hadn’t yet seen was High Places.
Several people over the last few months had expressed disbelief that we hadn’t met Rob and Mary. Tonight was the first time and it was a pleasure. I’ll write more about them later too!
KIT were amazing tonight. There is a confidence and power to their sound, and their energy is truly astounding. I heckled George like hell, but it’s true George, you shred! I feel all the ingredients are equally balanced now.
Taking decent photographs of KIT is a near impossibility, they move faster than any other band I’ve seen.
Death Sentence Panda certainly won the prize for the most beautifully turned out band of the evening. I was honoured.
No, seriously. I feel as though I’ve watched them develop over the last few years and it was a pretty emotional experience to see them at SXSW.
They sounded immense, cerebral and their performance was masterfully measured and full of suspense. They provided an example of the same sort of energy we saw with KIT, but projected completely differently.
John Maus followed. It was really good to see him again, it feels like a long time since December. It is fascinating to see how John is starting to get recognition for his music and there were plenty of curious faces there. There were also some impressive fans that sang all the words. There was one super cool kid who didn’t sing the choruses, he just smoked a cigarette and swayed, until the verses came in.
John’s performance is even more impassioned tonight, there’s an extra urgency and a raw physicality. John quickly comes off the stage, into the audience and onto the ground. It was intense.
No Age finish up the show. They tear through their set. The new songs are sounding really good and there’s even some pushing and shoving down the front of the stage.
Things get a little hazy this point as I’ve been drinking Tecate (very cheap Mexican beer) but I know that Chris and I dance like fools as I saw the footage on Kristy’s phone!
After the show was all a little bit of a daze. It was a strange and powerful experience to see so many people that we’ve worked with in the same room (okay, tent) and it hasn’t really gone away. I can’t thank everybody that played enough for their efforts, not only for playing for us but for everything; for believing in us and for being such good friends.
I remember talking to people about the showcase when I got home and how it had made sense of the label. This probably sounds ridiculous, but it was the first time I had appreciated the label as an entity, rather than as a sequence of releases. In addition, the showcase felt like the label was a community, and this goes absolutely beyond what I ever thought the UTR label would be.
After the showcase, around 2am, we headed out to the party at the children’s museum as we wanted to catch Lucky Dragons. We were faced with a bizarre scene of depravity as extremely drunk adults were draping themselves across the exhibits and passing out on the floor. We were completely freaked out and realised we must have missed Luke, so decided to call it a night. Later I heard that during Mika Miko’s set, which we missed by virtue of being at the showcase, someone stood on a balcony above the band and puked on Kate’s drums.