iTunes Festival at SXSW 2014: Day 1 Masterpost

iTunes Festival at SXSW 2014: London Grammar

I’ll admit, I haven’t heard of them before tonight, but I tuned in to London Grammar for the Music Unlabeled coverage of the iTunes Festival at SXSW. As they started to play, I was at first struck by how melodic and soft they played, and then the vocalist began to sing and I was swept away by the strength and power of her voice. Being the first act up, they kept their stage set up simple, but they used that to their advantage very well. The lighting stayed simple at first, with basic white spotlights, switching to a red tinted stage around the third song, and to blue for the song right after it. I apologize for not being able to name titles. 

As I understand it, they’re still a relatively new band, but this didn’t affect their stage presence any. They really owned the space they used, and though their overall vibe is that of minimalism, everything flowed together so wonderfully. The lighting stayed to different colors for different songs, except on the last one, when more flashes and light play were added. The only thing that I would have wanted from this would be that they have more stage time than they did. I truly enjoyed it, and look forward to hearing more from London Grammar

iTunes Festival at SXSW 2014: Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons is a name I’m very familiar with, so I entered this stream with high hopes. They opened with a stage lighted with blue lights and the sounds of owls and thunder. The stage went black as the first song began, soon accented by an image of the moon, pillars of blue light for a period, and flashing white spotlights. Soon the stage was bathed in green as the lyrics to the first song began. They certainly did more with their light show than London grammar did, even going so far as to incorporate pillars of smoke early on in the show. Their stage presence was truly impressive. 

Even so early in the show it was clear that the band brought all the energy from their music into their shows. Though the light show was extravagant, but it wasn’t overpowering in any way. It flowed easily with the music, complimenting the energy of the songs and the band on stage. I could tell that I wasn’t going to be disappointed from early on in the show. 

They managed to keep the energy up through their set, which was fantastic. I really enjoyed how all the members seemed well practiced in multiple instruments, each of them taking a turn on the multiple drums they had positioned on the stage. They were incredibly interactive, and seemed to only grow in energy as the show went on. 

The part that really got to me was a short exposition on one of my favorite songs. Seeing one of your favorites performed is always a great experience. The songs they played flowed together perfectly in the order that they were performed. I enjoyed how they kept going, never faltering in their energy, even though it became clear that they were growing exhausted at the end of the show. Just when you thought they were gonna slow down for a while they amp it back up in an amazing way. They were simply amazing and I look forward to the day that I see them in person instead of through a live stream.

iTunes Festival at SXSW 2014: Coldplay

The headliner of the night, Coldplay, has been covered by this blog before. it just so happens that our first available concert review gets to include them too. I won’t lie, I was pretty excited about this one too. They entered not with a roar, but gently, and with the first track off the upcoming album no less! The stage had been dark for the duration of the song, with only a few lights to show where the band was. When Charlie Brown started, however, the stage lit up with a variety of colors. They certainly know how to combine their light show and  their music. 

Coldplay themselves were interactive and lively, making good things out of tiny slip ups, which make the concert all the greater in my mind. No one will see the exact same thing at any other concert by the group. Coldplay mixed the old and the new brilliantly, switching between songs from their different ‘eras’ as easily as if they had all been written at the same time, even though you know that they weren’t.

I really enjoyed how they featured several of the songs off the upcoming album, despite Magic and Midnight being the only songs released from the album at this time. It made me even more excited to hear the upcoming album. Of course, they didn’t make it all about the new album, revisiting old favorites just as quick as they played a brand new song.

The relationship between Coldplay and their fans is a very loving one I’d say, because they seemed to love how much the audience enjoyed it, and poured all of that love back into the music they played, creating a beautiful cycle. 

In the middle of the next to last song, they set off a canon of paper streamers, and performed amid the strewn ribbons of paper, half covered, and half not. The song they cited as last ended the concert on a deep emotional level, but not in a way that leaves you searching for more. Far from it. They leave you wanting for nothing with the song. 

Of course, being the headliner of the night, the stage was left open for an encore. So the band made a return to the performance with Midnight. The lighting for the song was as fantastic as you could imagine it, neither too much nor too little. Thus, Coldplay ended, leaving me craving the chance to go to an actual concert of theirs.

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