Palmer Events Center, (SXSW Gaming Expo), Austin, TX
March 8th, 2013
LTW’s Chris Hearn takes a road trip to Austin, Texas and sees Winchester’s own Frank Turner at the bottom of the bible belt, as part of SXSW. Here’s the run down.
The bottom line is this: After a Frank Turner concert, I feel good! And, once again, I was not disappointed when I checked out his free show during the SXSW Gaming festival. A small stage was set up behind the Palmer Events Centre down by the river across from downtown Austin, Texas. It was a beautiful but humid night, just before a good downpour. The crowd was in a good mood after a day of checking out the latest and greatest video and computer games. I walked through the displays and, not being a gamer, had no clue what was going on. I’m used to feeling like that though.
The first band up was local: Driver Friendly. They were not too bad actually. I had checked out one of their videos before going to see them and was not impressed by their bubblegum squeaky clean pop punk look and sound. However, live, they came across as a talented band, with horns, some good grooves, a singer with a ton of energy and a confident presence. So, that was a pleasant surprise. I won’t be rushing out to pick up their album, but they were better than expected and I give them credit for that!
Then, Frank Turner comes on to an enthusiastic crowd. He’s obviously impressed Austin before, and has made fans here. This was the first time I had seen him since I went to his Wembley Arena show last year. It was nice to have him back in a more intimate setting. It was a typical high energy Frank Turner show with plenty of sing-alongs, jumping, dancing and fun. Like I said, his shows make me feel good, so why wouldn’t I want to check him out? He’s fun, interesting, has great lyrics and is a good showman. I just can’t help but like him a lot. He played many of the usual songs of course, including ‘Reasons Not To Be An Idiot’, ‘If I Ever Stray ‘ and ‘Substitute’. He also played a Townes Van Zandt song, “Pancho and Lefty”, which was cool. Everyone in attendance was perfectly silent listening to his excellent rendition, except for one loud “WOOOOO!” right in the middle. The crowd showed it’s appreciation for his acknowledgement of a Texas legend in Townes. Frank Turner even showed his tattoo of Van Zandt’s initials that he has on his wrist. Who knew?
I have to say my favourite part of the night was when he sang “Glory, Hallelujah”. After driving for two days across the Bible Belt to get to Austin, Texas from Winnipeg, Canada, I listened to plenty of Christian radio stations and saw many billboards telling me that I must go to Jesus! So, to hear the crowd sing along to “There is no god…” was a welcome change.
He played some new stuff off his upcoming album ‘Tape Deck Heart’ which surprised me somewhat. I had heard that the new album would be more hardcore and punk along the lines of his old Million Dead days. But, nope, the songs were all in line with his solo stuff over the past few years. It’s still good (very good actually), but not what I expected.
Anyway, I had a ton of fun. Austin was great. This show was great. The songs were great. The people were great. It was a great concert by someone who, in my mind, is one of the best out there right now at putting on a good, fun live show. I felt good! I felt like I had just seen Frank Turner!
Of course, you can check out Frank Turner at his official website, and on Facebook. Or, check him out on a stage near you soon. The guy never seems to stop touring so I’m sure it won’t be long before he is in your hometown.
Words by Chris Hearn. More writing by Chris on Louder Than War can be found here.