Every year SXSW rolls around I say, “I’m not going to do anything for SXSW this year. I’m getting too old for this!” Then I hear about who is coming to Austin and I get excited and I cave. EVERY. TIME. I guess that’s just the music lover in me because it surely isn’t the 36 year-old in me that says, “But, our feet and our body will be soooooooooooooooo tired. Remember?” Oh, I remember. And they are hurting. But, for some reason, it was totally worth it.
DAY 1 – Tuesday, March 12th
This year, I started SXSW out on at the Mood Media official SXSW day party. Guests and clients were treated to free drinks and free music from 2 to 6pm. Starting the music off was a band called Tomorrow We Move To Hawaii. They got the energy of the day started right with their dancey and dark electropop.
Next up was AVAN LAVA, a sexy band from NYC. That is how they describe themselves on their Facebook page, and I cannot disagree with that statement. They hit the stage and the party went wild! Dance pop party music is what they do best, complete with backup singer/dancers and choreographed sequences that got the crowd excited. Not only were they a great band to watch, they are all super nice people too! Be on the lookout for Music Designer Anita Benner’s interview with them.
Blondfire, a brother and sister who formed a band with friends, were next on the bill with their brand of indie rock pop. You may have heard their song, “Where The Kids Are” in a Honda Civic commercial.
To end the Mood party, Body Language took to the stage with their self-described sound of ‘’restless pop experiments with a future-shocked blend of soul and R&B.” This quartet of New Yorkers got the crowd dancing around to their infectious beats. Singer/glockenspiel player Angelica Bess tore it up on stage and even sported some Texas flag shoes!
Texas loves you Body Language, or at least I do.
After a bit of a rest at home and some dinner, I was ready to go back out to see some more music. My first attempt was to see Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Atlas Genius, and Tegan and Sara at The Main that night. When I got there, the line for badges was down the street! I decided that I didn’t want to stand in that line and I’d rather see other bands play. Plus the bands I came to see were playing on other nights and I would try to catch them then. As I made this decision and turned to leave, I bumped right into Macklemore, who was about to go in to do his set. Ever the gentleman, he profusely apologized, as if it were him that ran into me and not the other way around, and told me to have a good night. I should have followed him in, but I was too in shock at how nice he was and how I should probably never wash that shirt or my shoulder so I can remember this moment. Hehe…
I then called my friend Greg, who plays bass in the band Darwin Deez, who was off for the night as they didn’t have any showcases until the next day. I met up with him at The Mohawk and stayed there all night and watched Marnie Stern, DIIV, Local Natives, AZARI & III, and Icona Pop. Well, I WATCHED most of the bands, but I only really HEARD AZARI & III and Icona Pop as I am very short and as the night progressed and people drink more, they care less about how short you are and if you can see anything on stage.
DAY 2 – Wednesday, March 13th
Remember when I was talking about how my body was going to hate me, well it had already started by the second day. But I quickly reminded it that we love music and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see hundreds of bands you love in one place at the same time…AND you should get up and go check out some panels. So I did just that, I got up and went to a few panels on Wednesday.
Music Subscription & Artist Revenue wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be, but nonetheless interesting.
Inside the Music Supervisor’s Brain was an interesting panel. I have often thought that being a Music Supervisor on a film or a television series would be a really cool job. Hearing actual music supervisors talk about their jobs and and what they have worked on was really inspiring.
Then I headed over to the East Side of Austin to Cheer Up Charlie’s to see my friends Darwin Deez play. Darwin Smith, Greg Richardson, Tim McCoy and Andrew Hoepfner make great indie rock pop music that you can dance to. They always take synchronized dance breaks in their sets and the crowd loves it! They are true friends and I can’t say enough how much I love these boys! So of course I have tons of pictures of their set.
After some dinner and conversation with the boys of Darwin Deez, I parted ways with them and made my way over to Haven. I parked it there for the night to see Wild Belle, Tom Odell, Ra Ra Riot, Atlas Genius and Toro Y Moi. I made it most of the night up front to see the bands, but by the time Atlas Genius took the stage I needed to sit down as my feet were killing me. I wanted SO BADLY to stay the entire evening and finish it up with Flight Facilities, but halfway through Toro Y Moi, I felt like my body was betraying me and it desperately wanted to rest, so I decided to end my night there.
Day 3 – Thursday, March 14th
As tired as I was from the day/night before, I dragged myself out of bed to see Keynote speaker Dave Grohl at 11am. I’m really glad I did. What a wonderful speaker. I have always liked Dave Grohl, but now I LOVE him. Hearing him speak about how he fell in love with music makes me feel it all over again too. And makes me feel like a slacker on making music. He’s like a super hero or something.
After the amazing Keynote by Dave Grohl, I went home to rest my poor tired body and feet for a few hours. After eating some dinner, I headed back out for a night of music. I was at The Austin Music Hall for most of the night checking out Diamond Rings, The Enemy, The Sheepdogs, Fitz and the Tantrums, City and Colour, and Tegan and Sara. I was mostly there to see two of my favorite bands, Fitz and the Tantrums and Tegan and Sara. This was my only time to see both of them during the festival and I was SUPER happy it was there. The sound for all the bands was great. I never miss a Fitz and the Tantrums show when they are in Austin. The band gives it their all at every show. They have so much energy and move around so much most of my photos are blurry. I really love them!
Fellow Music Designer, Trevor Pronga, met up with me for Tegan and Sara’s set, which was just awesome. I had been trying to see the twins since Tuesday and it just hadn’t happened yet. As this was their last SXSW show, I made it my mission to see them. I’m so glad I did, their banter in between songs is something only siblings could come up with. They are some funny ladies!
At this point it was almost 1am and Trevor and I were determined to make it across town to The Red Eyed Fly for a band we both love from New Orleans, Generationals. After much walking and some tired feet, we made it there in time for their late night set. It was the perfect way to end the night with some mellow indie rock pop.
Day 4 – Friday, March 15th
I swore to myself I COULD NOT miss Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes while they were in town. This Australian band’s sound takes you through their interpretation of soul, blues, doo-wop, ska and R&B. I took my dad, who loves music, to see them at the Skype day party at The Belmont. They started out the party and got the crowd going. Not to mention, this is one sexy looking band. You may have heard their hit “Love Letter” in a Heineken commercial.
After my dad talking their ears off at the merch booth, the ladies were kind enough to sign a CD for us and take a few pictures with me.
Next up at the Skype party was a duo out of Nashville called Striking Matches that sang beautiful folk rock with mesmerizing harmonies. You may have heard one of their songs “When The Right One Comes Along” on the TV show Nashville sung by the characters Gunnar and Scarlett.
To close out the party, the all-vocal band, winners of the TV show The Sing Off, Pentatonix rocked us all with just their voices! I had seen these guys on TV, and even voted for them during the show, but seeing them live was an amazing experience. The balance between all the voices is just uncanny! These guys are AWESOME!
After the Skype party at The Belmont, my dad and I went out for dinner, he took me home to freshen up, and I was back out that night to see more music.
My fiancé and I had won wristbands to the Myspace Secret Show that night, which happened to be Dillion Francis, Sleigh Bells, and Flying Lotus. Theophilus London was our host DJing in between sets. We were mainly there for Sleigh Bells as they are one of our favorite bands and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them at all of their Austin appearances. Yes, I like them A LOT.
We took off after Sleigh Bells played to go see our friend’s Darwin Deez last show at 1am before they took off the next day. Their show was a great way to end the night!
Day 5 – Saturday, March 16th
Ahhh, my precious Saturday. I was so beat from all the time I spent out during the week I did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING during the day on Saturday. I wanted to go to some day parties and see more bands, but my body said no.
I went out around 7:30pm with my fiancé to The Madison to see a few bands from Denmark that played dirty grime pop (as they described it). First up was Linkoban, who danced around the tiny stage as her drummer Jason played the beats in the back. Lucy Love was up next with her grimy beats and whip smart lyrics.
I decided I wanted to catch some other acts at Austin Music Hall, so I headed out on my own.
Austin Music Hall was host that night to Perez Hilton’s One Night In Austin party, sponsored by VH1’s Save The Music. I went there to see Paloma Faith and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Paloma Faith and her back-up singers were sassy and got the crowd going. I was finally going to get to see Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and I couldn’t be more pleased that I did. Not only is Macklemore a great performer, he’s a wonderful human being. He knows how to get the crowed excited and up for his hit “Thrift Shop” but it was his song “Same Love” that got me. This is a man who wrote a rap song about marriage equality and human rights. The lyrics reference how he thought he was gay because he liked to draw, didn’t understand why his uncles were treated differently when he was younger and all the stereotypes and prejudices that are still running rampant in this world. It’s a wonderful song with a great message. I hope more people hear it and really listen. It was slightly past midnight when Macklemore pointed out that it was technically St. Patrick’s Day, so being the Irish boy he is, he told everyone to drink up and ended the set with his song “Irish Celebration.”
I left Austin Music Hall around 12:30am to end my night and SXSW at The Iron Bear for Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes. I met up with my fiancé and music designer Trevor Pronga to dance the night away. I have to say they were my favorite act I caught at SXSW this year and I have become fast friends with the girls. Upon seeing me waiting up front for the show to start, Ruby, one of the Bangin’ Rackettes, saw me and said, “Hey! You came to the late show! Where’s your dad? He’s hilarious!” Yes I did, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. And my dad, well, he was not up for the late show, but I hope I will always be.
– Submitted by Mandi LeBlanc, Music Design