Tuesday, March 19, 2013

SXSW vs. Liverpool Sound City (part 2)

New York Sound City, part 2

After the day's events, the festivities moved from the Wythe Hotel to the evening's music showcase at the Knitting Factory Brooklyn. While KOF's hiphop folk, The Verdict's British pop stylings, and Brodka's electro-pop, all made for an enjoyable evening, it was the other acts that I was most excited to see, some for the first time and others for second round.

I was, in fact, most excited to see the Wet Nuns. Playing to my theory that British metal is the next big thing, the Sheffield duo sludged through a tight and raucous short set, but delivered from the start. Reminiscent of QOTSA, but not at all uneasy about being the only heavy band on the bill, they delivered handily, and I hope they can return soon to deliver a full and proper set.

As the sole representatives for Liverpool, the Tea Street Band's energy was the catalyst that finally brought the crowd into full voice. With a 100% British sound, TSB was made to feel at home right away and repaid that embrace tenfold. Jumping into the crowd and making the most out of their Stateside debut, they made an impression and made each person in that crowd into a fan by the end of their set.

Similar to my recent post about Jake Bugg's unique positioning between UK and US fans, the final 2 acts see lots of blowback from the UK critics. Reverend and the Makers and The Enemy both seem to be too "British" for the Brits to get a fair shake in their homeland by critics and the indier than thou. But for me, they seem to honest messengers of the Anglo anthemic and the sounds that are historically and  uniquely British.

As I had previously seen Rev and the Makers open for Oasis at Wembley, having a chance to see them at such a small venue was a real treat. The energy was high, the songs were infectious and the enormous attitude was not lost in translation from the grandeur of the Wembley stage to the tiny Brooklyn venue. This isn't rocket science; it's rock music, and McClure and company deliver just that. Denying their abilities is just cynicism.

And the same goes for the Enemy. I had seen them at Bowery Ballroom before in a room full of expats, and was impressed by both their simple songwriting chops, as well as their ability to fill a room with both noise and attitude. Leaning more towards huge hooks, The Jam-style sloganeering, and uniquely British subject matter makes it more difficult to see US audiences embrace them at first blush, but again, their personality, energy and presence make them undeniable. Even though I was honestly a bit disappointed with their output since their debut album, the live set's newer songs overcame my fears and still delivered with flying colors.

Without the Doritos vending machine stage and the silly marketing attempts to connect bands and brands that have replaced the original mission of SXSW, Liverpool Sound City brought to NYC exactly what want out of my early March music showcase. As an Anglophile, this was the event of the year and worth every penny.

See you next year, New York Sound City.

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