2012 SXSW: The Famous Five





I’m back everyone, and although I left part of my mind back in Austin (I do hope it returns at some point this week), I’m back and raring to go with lots of new ideas for this Blog and beyond.

For those of you unaware, I have just been to 2012 SXSW in Austin: a Music, Interactive, and Film festival that literally takes over the city. I went for the Music, but did get to enjoy other elements, and as such, come back with ideas a plenty.

So over the next week I will produce a short series of posts related to my experiences at 2012 SXSW. These ideas and thoughts are based on what I saw, who I met, and from the talks I was lucky to be part of. These will include:

–       The Famous Five (my favourite music performances of the week)

–       The Future Of Publishing (my thoughts on the future of books)

–       Crowdsourcing…An Authors Friend (my thoughts on crowdsourcing for authors)

–       Merchandise + Authors = The Future (some interesting thoughts on how authors can use merchandise for extra income)

–       The Future Of This Blog (where this Blog is going in the coming weeks and months)

The talks I were part of may have been music related, but the discussions never the less got me thinking about Writing, and Blogging, and Publishing. Some of the ideas I’ll discuss may be a little crazy, and a tad ambitious. One thing I am sure of is they will create the odd debate or two, and have people thinking a little outside the box.

Those crazy ideas are for another time though, so let’s first focus on the Music and the people that literally rocked my world (oh, the following five artists are not ranked. These are my top five, and coming up with these was hard enough. Please don’t make me choose the very best):



Location: St David’s Historic Sanctuary

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BucfErwPTWs]

I’ve been listening to the haunting sounds of Daughter for a while now, and although I was excited for a great show, I didn’t expect to be nearly brought to tears by the voice of Elena Tonra.

The lead woman lead from the front with a vibrant set of distinct tones, ending each song with a shy smile. The kind of smile that told us she wasn’t worthy, despite it being we, the audience, that quite frankly weren’t worthy.

The London based outfit took on Austin and came out on top. I always base a band’s strength on how they can take a recording to the stage. In Daughter’s case they matched it, overtook it, and left it behind with a cloud of dust the recordings only friend.

This isn’t rock and roll, but it’s safe to say I God Damn loved this performance!


Ed Sheeran

Location: Stubb’s

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAWcs5H-qgQ]

I like Ed and his sound; I liked him as soon as I heard A-Team all those months ago. He was on my list to see because I liked him, but I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much.

He was born in the same town as me (which is rare because no one is born in Halifax), so I was always curious about his career. He has a good sound, and some really nice lyrics, and is generally, rather nice.

But I wasn’t expecting a show. I expected a cool set of acoustic guitar; something we’d all clap to, but could live without. I was, however, so very wrong.

He was amazing, not just the songs, which he performed with grace, but his entire show boat swagger. He rapped, and told us stories, and involved the crowd in several songs. His last song took about 15 minutes, but it felt like seconds passed by.

I was left speechless and confused, and although I’m often confused, I’m rarely unable to find words to fill the silence.


Frank Turner

Location: Latitude

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2Yec3FIRnA]

He shares my last name so I remember wanting to like him instantly. Lucky enough I fell in love with the song ‘Thatcher Fucked The Kids’ and pretty much everything since then. He’s a poet, and got a distinct voice, and is so simple with his guitar that it makes me feel I could do it.

I couldn’t of course, but he makes it seems so. His performance on my first night in Austin was great, and even though I was on my lonesome – after losing my friends in a no doubt drunken manner – the hour-long set flew by and had me clinging for more.

He’s been on my list to see for a few years, and I’m so glad I got to see him in a small, dusty bar in Austin, Texas.



Location: Warehouse 1100

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBsQVP-Olmw]

My friends love Kasabian, and although I do like them, I don’t fall in the same bracket of fandom. I did know I was going to get a performance though, mainly because everyone who’s seen them tell me how good they are.

They didn’t disappoint either let me tell you. I was drunk, and it was late, and I was really close to the speaker. So close that I felt my head shake, and at one point my brain felt as though it was sliding through my nose.

We danced, and jumped, and Tom clung to the front of the stage as Surge looked like a corpse next to him. Not because he wasn’t moving, just because he, well, kind of looks like a corpse.

These guys are rock and roll, and they took my soul, gave it a good shake, and handed it back a little distorted and torn, but overall in good condition.


Of Monsters & Men

Location: Stubb’s

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Dw8qdmT_aY]

This was the band I was looking forward to seeing more than any other, and I’m so happy they didn’t disappoint. I was with my friend Wayne, who I’d given a song or two. He wasn’t convinced by the CD, but soon was by the live act, and I can now happily say they have a new fan.

They were great!

A mixture of Arcade Fire and Mumford of Sons; seven bodies rocking the stage with instruments of all kinds blaring back and offering nothing but amazing sounds. This is fun music, the kind of music you dance to and shake your head to, and generally act like a little child to.

This is a band everyone needs to see, it’s quite frankly that simple.


There you go ladies and gents, that’s my 2012 SXSW Famous Five. It’s a little embarrassing when I look at it and see four British Bands. You travel 7,000 miles and see people who were born in your town, and perform in venues just miles away.

These, however, are all bands that I’ve never seen before (that’s the one rule of making my Famous Five list), and they all rocked more than any other. It was a tough call, because I saw some truly tremendous bands. But the Brits came out victorious, and it just goes to show we still lead the world in music.

The proof is in the pudding people, although I must say, I saw some rather brilliant American acts too 🙂

Turndog Millionaire – @turndog_million


Been to 2012 SXSW? What did you think? Who were your Famous Five?

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