I survived SXSW! It seems like those who attend say the very same thing, and for good reason. With over 2,000 musical acts, panels, private events, and late nights, it’s no wonder why it takes a good week to recover. Through all the madness, the following acts really stood out to me.

Charles Bradley
Capitol One Showcase (Sunday 3/15)

What can I say about this guy? If you haven’t seen the documentary Love of America, I suggest you do so. Charles Bradley should be an inspiration to us all. Through poverty, heartbreak, homelessness, the loss of his brother, and so much more, he still managed to keep his head held high. At the age of 62, Bradley finally got his big break in music by meeting producer and Grammy-winner Gabriel Roth of Daptone Records. After 48 years of chasing his dream, it’s finally become reality. You can feel his sense of urgency to make it count. No one in my opinion deserves it more. I can best describe his music as soulful, heartfelt, funky, and uplifting. No question: he is the real deal. There are only few times in my life where people of such creative magnitude have touched my heart, and this man is definitely one of them. The connection with his fans is great too. He has a presence and glow about him. At the end of the show, you can see him giving hugs, telling people to spread love. It’s genuine and sweet, and that makes it even more special. If you were able to get a hug from this guy, consider yourself lucky. Charles Bradley is a must-see.

Gary Clark, Jr.
Heard Mashup Showcase (Tuesday 3/17)

My love for the blues began at the tender age of 15, when a good friend handed me the record Axis Bold As Love by Jimi Hendrix. He simply said, “Learn this!” At the time, I was strictly into heavy metal and rock guitar. To be honest, I didn’t understand Hendrix or why people made such a big fuss over him.  I think I even said it sounded like a bunch of noise. Boy, was I wrong! From there, I dove deep into blues, especially when I made the move to Austin at 18. It was there that I would go out to see so many great musicians in town, and one being a young man by the name of Gary Clark, Jr.

Gary Clark Jr.

When news came that the band would be performing for SXSW, I, of course, marked it down as a must-see. Tuesday night, I left a rehearsal as quickly as I could to try to catch the set at midnight. Could I even get in? The clock was ticking. When I finally arrived, the lines were a mile-long, and the venue jam-packed. I suppose I should thank my lucky stars, because I got in without a minute to spare. Just after midnight, the band fired up and played an incredible show. How do you describe Gary’s style? To me, his playing is all feel. He has a great ear for tone, and his use of feedback during his solos, bending notes and incorporating it into his playing, is just plain tasteful. The band was solid, and the crowd enamored. Before I knew it, the clock said 2AM. Had his band not been told of the time, I think they would have continued playing. I highly recommend checking them out if you ever get the chance.

Island Records’ Island Life showcase (Thursday 3/19)

Did someone say Incubus is playing at SXSW? I caught wind that Incubus would be performing at Island Records’ Island Life showcase. I had no idea. My text read “Make your way now, Incubus is playing tonight!” Great, time to put my running shoes on! I was excited to catch them again, especially since they took a much-deserved two-year break to pursue other interests.


Their showcase came just in time for the release of their EP, Trust Fall (Side A), that recently released on March 25th. A (Side B) will also drop sometime at a future date. The show was what you would expect of an Incubus crowd, full of energy, happy, singing every word. At one point, Brandon Boyd addressed the crowd of fans listening to the show from the parking garage across the street. During their showcase, they played two new songs off the new EP entitled  “Trust Fall” and “Absolution Calling.”


– Submitted by Erick Bohorquez, Music Design