Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

CONTEST – The Middle East @ The Horseshoe – May 5, 2010

Photo via FacebookFacebookThings move fast at SxSW, and it really doesn’t take long for the buzz around a given act to go from silent to deafening over the course of four days. Case in point, Australians The Middle East, who headed into Austin without any more cachet than most of the thousand-plus other acts also playing the festival. But as each day passed and the question of “who’d you see that was good?” was answered via conversations, news reports, blogs and tweets, The Middle East’s name kept coming up until by week’s end, they were now one of the must-see acts of the festival, if just to see what people were talking about.

I got my chance on the final day of the fest at a chilly Red-Eye Fly, and while the logistics of setting up such a large band cut their set short, it was enough to get a sense of what everyone who’d seen the prior was excited about. Drawing from their debut EP The Recordings Of The Middle East – to be followed up this year with a full-length – they showed their stock in trade to be delicate folk music that was as expansive-sounding as it was intimate, and for something that takes that route over in-your-face antics to impress the ADD throngs at SxSW, well that takes some doing.

The Middle East are embarking on an extensive tour of North America that will see them fit a number of headlining dates between opening slots for Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling and its in that capacity that they’ll be playing The Horseshoe in Toronto on May 5. Tickets are $10.50 in advance but courtesy of Sneak Attack Media, I have a pair of passes to give away to the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to visit The Middle East” in the subject line and your full name in the body and get that in to me before midnight, May 3.

MP3: The Middle East – “Blood”
MP3: The Middle East – “Lonely”
MP3: The Middle East – “The Darkest Side”
Video: The Middle East – “Blood”
MySpace: The Middle East

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

SxSW 2010 Day Four A/V

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFull writeup of the day over here.

– Big and raw-voiced Illinois native Lissie Maurus released her debut EP Why You Running last year. Aquarium Drunkard and BBC have interviews.
Photos: Lissie @ Red-Eyed Fly – March 20, 2010
MP3: Lissie – “Little Lovin'”
MySpace: Lissie

Sharon Van Etten
– Brooklyn singer-songwriter who released her spare and beautiful debut in Because I Was In Love last year was recently featured in a Daytrotter session. She plays the Horseshoe on April 5.
Photos: Sharon Van Etten @ Red-Eyed Fly – March 20, 2010
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Consolation Prize”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Love More”
Video: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
MySpace: Sharon Van Etten

Free Energy
– Philadelphia champions of ’70s-styled, arena-sized power-pop will release their debut Stuck On Nothing on May 4.
Photos: Free Energy @ Red-Eyed Fly – March 20, 2010
MP3: Free Energy – “Free Energy”
MP3: Free Energy – “Hope Child”
Video: Free Energy – “Free Energy”
MySpace: Free Energy

The Middle East
– Dramatically-inclined Australian collective collected more and more accolades with each day of SxSW. Their debut EP The Recordings of The Middle East came out last Fall. They will play The Horseshoe on May 5.
Photos: The Middle East @ Red-Eyed Fly – March 20, 2010
Video: The Middle East – “Blood”
MySpace: The Middle East

Slow Club
– See writeup from a day two.
Photos: Slow Club @ Barbarella – March 20, 2010

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

SxSW 2010 Day Four

Free Energy, Lissie and The Middle East and more at SxSW

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you’ve been following SxSW coverage anywhere else over the last few days, then you know that Saturday, the final day of the festival, was cold. Damn cold. Colder than Toronto on that same day cold, which was particularly galling. I had brought just enough clothes so as to be able to layer a reasonably suitable outfit, so the loss of approximately 15 degrees overnight wasn’t enough to stop me from going out, just make it a bit less fun.

That said, I got out and about a little later than usual, opting to hit up Flatstock at the convention center first (no purchases, just browsing). A quick stop at the Rachael Ray party at Stubb’s came to nothing as the lineups for free food were massive – I like quesadillas but not to the point of spending an hour in line for them – and the music was already running a half hour behind schedule, so I popped into Red-Eyed Fly next door for WXPN’s day show and basically stuck around the rest of the day.

I arrived in time to catch most of the set from Lissie Maurus, who simply goes by Lissie. She’s an old-school country-rock singer-songwriter who isn’t banking on being fresh or innovative to get attention, just good. And she’s pretty good. Her voice has a raw yet wistful twang and her songwriting evocative and melodic, and oh yeah, she can play a pretty mean guitar as well. People have gotten much further with less, and judging from the jam-packed inside room at the venue, she was well on her way. Or people were just trying to get indoors.

The crowd was only slightly leaner for Sharon Van Etten’s set, but she had to contend with the sound of Jukebox The Ghost making a racket outside. This didn’t make for the most sympathetic environment for her quiet, heart-rending tunes and while she gamely tried to keep up by turning up, I couldn’t help thinking how perfect a setting St David’s Historic Synagogue would have been for her official showcase two nights prior. Or at least I imagine it was more perfect – I didn’t make it out to that show. Here’s hoping things are quieter for her when she plays the Horseshoe on April 5.

Despite the chill, it was to the outside stage for the next couple acts, and though it was Winter that was reminding us it wasn’t quite finished, Philly’s Free Energy were ready to be champions of Summer, at least musically speaking. People may have been expecting Cheap Trick to be the flag-bearers for big, ’70s power pop at this year’s festival, but with all respect to the veterans, Free Energy were untouchable when it came to hugely hooky, ass-shakingly great guitar rock. After their set, they handed out free copies of their debut Stuck On Nothing to all in attendance even though it’s not due out until May 4. The only catch was that it was on cassette. Thanks, guys.

I’d never heard of Australian 7-piece The Middle East before SxSW began, but they were one of the acts whose name got mentioned more and more with each of their performances so by this, their second-last show of the festival, I was actually making an effort to see what the hubbub was all about. Apparently they used to be some odd hybrid of folk-rock and post-rock, but now had a sound that was much more the former, but with some of the scope and grandeur of the latter and a heart-on-sleeve emotionality that tied it all together. With a short set time that was eaten up with soundchecking of their many, many instruments, they probably didn’t have time to really deliver their A-game and I wasn’t as won over as many seemed to have been with previous appearances, but I could see how it could happen.

At this point I was done with Red-Eyed Fly and crossed the street to Barbarella, which I didn’t realize used to be Spiro’s. And while the name had changed, the fact that it’s an awful room hadn’t. But I didn’t want to miss the chance to see Slow Club again – their one appearance at Eastbound & Found on Thursday was not going to be enough, especially since there was no indication that there’d be further North American touring in support of the Stateside release of their debut Yeah, So?. And perhaps because that record is so old to the band, despite not being available over here till March 30, the set again didn’t seem to include many of my favourite songs from that record but instead fresh tunes that at least still adhered to the album’s recipe for success: simple, gleeful guitar-and-drums arrangements, and wicked (witty) sharp songwriting. Highlights of the set included inviting the sisters of First Aid Kit up to sing a song before picking up and heading into the audience to play a tune amidst their public. They went back onstage for one final tune, but I preferred to leave the final impression of the show as that one, and anyways there was an enchilada calling my name.