I’ve been working in the music industry for over 20 years, but this was the first time I was personally able to attend the annual conglomerate of film, interactive media and music festivals and conferences in Austin, Texas. Friends and associates have always told me that attending SXSW was something to put on my “to do” list insofar as they claimed it was a music lover’s paradise for sonic discovery … and, well, they were right.
Picking the acts I wanted to see was a daunting task. In advance of the festival, I had to take their list of approximately 2,000 acts, and whittle it down into a manageable selection. Now, there were definitely a handful of acts that I already knew about (i.e. bands that I’ve always wanted to see live, bands that I’ve always wanted to shoot, bands that my friends had suggested, etc), but I’d say over 60 percent of the bands I selected were because of outreach from either the band themselves or their publicist.
Now, in order to get my attention for coverage, you need to present yourself in the best possible light. When a band, or their publicist, sends me an email, it’s an interview, and as superficial as it sounds, putting your best foot forward (whether its a catchy tagline or quotes, sharp photos, or a very well produced video) will often times get your foot in my door in order for me to want to research you some more.
Artists who were able to communicate their personalities to me through written correspondence when I asked questions (basically, being human) sometimes was enough for me to prioritize my attending one of their gigs. On the other hand, failing to advise me (or advising me a day ahead of when I supposed to check them out) of changes in schedule had me delete your slot in my electronic calendar altogether.
As much as I love being able to schedule my day around firm times, it goes without saying that sometimes life will step in and let you know that something just simply won’t happen. I was warned that with SXSW comes a lot … and I mean A LOT … of walking. After the first day, as I soaked my aching feet in a hot bath, and miscalculating the actual distance between some of the performance venues, it was inventible that I would have make some tough choices.
At SXSW, it’s good to have a plan, but it’s probably equally important to be adventurous. Walking through the streets of downtown Austin, with building after building pulsing different kinds of music from its walls, you could easily be lured into an unplanned performance (this happened on a couple of occasions for me). With bands playing multiple gigs throughout the week, taking an alternate route could easily be compensated for by shifting your schedule around on a following day.
As for the city itself, there’s a lot of charm in Austin. During the daytime, I found the people and surroundings to be extremely pleasant. Seeing families, with babies wearing huge noise-drowning ear muffs (gets me smiling every time) out enjoying some of the free daytime musical showcases around town was inspiring. Sponsors of various pop-ups went out of their way to impress attendees with freebies and “art” installations. Musicians who weren’t able to enroll for SXSW accreditation would be on street corners jamming for those who were willing to listen.
At night, however, things tended to get a little less family-friendly. Trash seemed to be a bit of a problem at night. When drunk people are eating food on the street, I suppose they couldn’t care less where the trash cans were. And if the drunk folk weren’t throwing trash onto the street, I certainly saw my fair share of passed out youth sprawled out in those dirty streets.
I was also on the receiving end of some (likely alcohol induced) douchey attitude from bro’ed out frat boys when I used my SXXPRESS passes (which are GOLD by the way) to get priority access into certain venues, and even some venue employees could have been a little more congenial with me especially since I was absolutely in the right and just trying to do my job … and to the Fader Fort bouncer who was twice my size and made a big stink about how bad his knee hurt after HE kneed my camera?…. Ppffsh …. Total baby. Thank god I was never planning to go in there.
But at the end of the day, at least for me, it was all about the music. Since we’re our own entity, not behold to anybody, I and my non-credentialed associate were able to hand pick those acts that caught our eyes and ears. We took fliers on a bunch of acts that impressed us with a single or video, and we’re happy to report that we weren’t disappointed with our selections.
Below you will find a “list” of all of the acts and interviews that we were able to fit into our SXSW schedule. We’ll be updating this page with our brief thoughts, basic info, photo gallery and video clips (under 45 seconds to abide by SXSW’s rules) until all of our coverage is up, so keep it tabbed right here for all of the new discoveries that we were able to enjoy.
MARCH 13, 2017
MARCH 14, 2017
MARCH 15, 2017
MARCH 16th, 2017
MARCH 17th, 2017
MARCH 18th, 2017