If day one was all about getting my head around the dizzying array of content on offer and adjusting to the virtual time delay of the Austin-based music industry extravaganza (read my day one review here), by day two I’m feeling like I’ve hit my stride and it’s with a spring in my step that I approach the Joyzine supercomputer, mug of tea in hand, and log-in for the day’s festivities.
My afternoon begins with charming short documentary The Unlikely Fan; a warm and heartfelt portrait of an elderly Sri Lankan basketball enthusiast, which you can read about in more detail in my SXSW Shorts round-up. This is followed by surreal comedy short The Position from writer/director Matthew Lessner, which features a hilariously random internet quiz which sets up an even more bizarre meeting. What happens next we’ll have to wait and see as of all the shorts I will watch over the course of the week, this is the one that most needed further instalments to reach a conclusion – more of a teaser for a longer-form piece than a complete entity in itself – but I leave intrigued enough to want to find out more.
By mid-afternoon we reach the talks section of the day, and I opt for ‘We Want Live Shows Again’ which looks into how the live music circuit might return following the pandemic. Adam Shore of online concert company Driift sees this as an opportunity for change, saying that “the industry has a chance to reinvent itself.” Tom Windish of Paradigm Talent Agency gives a rather bleaker outlook for bands and music fans; stating “Venues will pay their bills before they pay bands… Ticket prices will increase. They have been low for a really long time.” Time will tell whether their predictions come true, but either way we cannot wait to get back into a dark sweaty room full of loud noise.
Next I spend an hour in the company of The Daily Show‘s news team as they discuss the prospect of a post-Trump world and what that means for satire. “Trump came in and he chose the news for us,” says Jordan Klepper, “There are only so many Donald Trump jokes you can make, it’s in the millions but it’s still a finite resource.” It’s an entertaining and informative chat that gives a glimpse behind the scenes as the correspondents were forced to work within lockdown restrictions, from Klepper interviewing people from a boat due to a regional law that allowed meetings to take place across a body of water, to Desi Lydic commandeering her child’s scooter to set up a dolly shot.
There’s time for a few more films before the music kicks back in, with Marvin’s Never Had Coffee Before – a warm-hearted short-form comedy on social awkwardness (also covered in our SXSW Shorts round-up); Bradley Grant Smith’s feature length comedy-drama Our Father, which follows a pair of sisters in their search for a hitherto unknown uncle following the death of their father; and an early peek at scenes from work-in-progress documentary Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story – a vibrant look at the story of the world renowned music event which really brings the bright colours, emphatic sounds and mouthwatering flavours of The Big Easy to life – we’ll be covering both of these in more detail in our films review shortly.
The musical section of today’s proceedings begins with another set from The British Music Embassy – Belfast genre-blenders Enola Gay provide the highlight with a choppy rhythm section, shards of guitar splintered through an industrial scale pedal board and raw throated half-rapped, half-shouted vocals.
There’s more British-based talent on display in the joint Fierce Panda / End of The Trail showcase, recorded at Chelsea’s 606 jazz club. South London duo Scrounge are already established Joyzine favourites and they show exactly why that is tonight with a ferocious set of crashing post-punk that comes in ultraviolet waves against a backdrop blitzed with flashing pop art colours. Less familiar are Blackpool four-piece Jekyll, whose sounds blends the bright, catchy guitars of late eighties/early nineties indie bands like The Smiths and Gene with the epic soaring prog explorations of the likes of Ultrasound and early Muse.
Our evening finishes at some unthinkable time of the morning with the Sounds Australia showcase, which immediately sets about playing up to every conceivable national stereotype – within the first few minutes we’ve already seen a didgeridoo and presenter Glenny G firing up the barbie, and throughout the course of the festival there’ll also be kangaroos and a performance inside a cricket ground. While they’re having fun with our expectations, there’s also respect paid throughout to the indigenous people upon whose ancestral land the performances are taking place. Each act takes their own spin on the theme of performing in their “back yard”, with Hachiku gathered around the doorstep of a suburban bungalow as they pour out a set of dreamy melancholy reminiscent of a female-fronted Grandaddy wearing a reverb halo, while The Lazy Eyes invite us indoors (making sure everyone’s taken off their shoes first) for a superb set that veers from gentle psych-pop to full on hair shaking guitar freak-outs, making them my stand-out new discovery of the day and leaving me both excited for more new encounters tomorrow and very much ready for bed.
SXSW 2022 has just been announced for 11th-20th March – get all the latest details at sxsw.com
Review by Paul Maps
All images provided by the promoter