SXSW 2015: Neon Gold Showcase feat. Years and Years, MS MR, Alex Winston, Tigertown, VÉRITÉ, Cathedrals, and Christine and the Queens, 3/21/15

photos by Chad Elder | words by Cassie Purtlebaugh | Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Saturday, March 21st was our final night here at SXSW 2015, and we decided to focus primarily on the Neon Gold Records Showcase. When we migrated to the Empire Control Room at 5:30, the line was already forming. A light drizzle began to fall, but this time we were prepared with ponchos and an umbrella. Despite the weather and wait, people happily chatted to pass time, and when at last we entered the venue it was still largely empty, despite the massive line outside. We took our place in front of the Empire Garage stage.

The first act of the night was Tigertown, a six-piece indie rock pop group from New South Wales consisting entirely of siblings from two families. The band’s music was light and dreamy, leaving me feeling as though I were living in a movie soundtrack. Each band member contributed backing vocals in conjunction with the lead vocalist.

Toward the end of their set I hustled over to other stage in the Empire Control Room to catch New York pop act VÉRITÉ. She was accompanied by live musicians, but the performance was primarily rhythmic and vocal-based. Her backing tracks were a tad quiet, making it difficult to hear the textures. At moments when she pushed her vocals to the edge, I could hear a subtle similarity to Ellie Goulding. To say the least, this is an act I’ll be keeping my eye on.

Later, as I sipped on my Lone Star, pop-rock act Alex Winston from Detroit took the stage. Given she’s a trained opera singer, Winston’s high range flaunted much control. Between songs she apologized for being sick, but no one would have suspected as she delivered a strong, passionate performance.

Near the end of the evening, I caught New York electropop act Ms Mr. The group encountered sound issues and started 30 minutes late, but the at-capacity room remained patient. After a couple songs I had to make the tough choice to leave to catch London’s electro trio Years & Years. As I entered the group was already in full swing. Lead singer (and energetic dancer) Olly Alexander filled the room with his soulful high-pitched voice. Each song remained infectious and upbeat, and kept the small room alive late into the night. It is evident that this band is well poised to blow up here in the US soon.

Chad Elder is a Los Angeles-based photographer who focuses on live music and band portraits. Cassie Purtlebaugh is a writer and musician in Los Angeles.

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