The Days SXSW 2012
(And by "conquered" I mean, I managed to make my 7am flight home. "Survived" is probably more accurate.)
SXSW is an anomaly for music festivals. It's a hot mess. It's a circus. And to all of my friends with the deer-in-headlights look after thier first few hours in downtown Austin, WELCOME. Welcome to "South-By."
It's a rite of passage for most musicians trying to "make it" in the music business. The crowds, the crazies, the streetfood, every major brand tenting downtown, the parties, free booze, free tacos, over-priced booze and overpriced tacos, parking, lack of parking, petty cabs, fake petty cabs, badges, and wristbands, and free sunglasses, and swag, and more free booze, and lines and lines and crowds of people. Oh, and music. More music than you could ever imagine.
DAY 1 ===
Mine started with a bang. I'm sure I've already blown your internet ear-drums out about my show with old pal, Tony Lucca. It was so much fun. We even jammed out an impromtu version of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" to end the night.
It was actually quite a fun night for an event that you'd think with such big sponsors might be kind of rigid, or something. I guess part of it is that so many people are from Seattle, also known as one of the nicest cities in the world.
Because of the rain, the show was relocated to inside Lance Armstrong's Mellow Johnny's bike shop, and was the first time I've played a bike shop. Or been inside Lance Armstrong's office.
Also the first time I've witnessed a fixie joust just outside Lance's office. "Where are the brakes on this thing?"
At the end of the night, I got to bed triumphant, having played a show I was proud of, and free of any kind of corporate "sell-out".
Because at the end of the day, I'm an artist. And I can't be bought. You hear that Chevy and Tmobile?
DAY 2 ===
The next day, the rain cleared up at "South by So Wet" and the Texas sun came out to play. It was a beautiful morning full of tacos. (Of course.)
With no shows to play until Thursday, I ventured out to see what shows I could catch and trouble I could get into.
I headed back to Mellow Johnny's ajoining coffee shop, "Juan Pelota" (I guess "One Ball Lance's Cafe" was taken. Man, those guys are clever) for some caffeine, check out some poster art and to plan my route.
Found a venue that opened just for SXSW. I told you this festival was big.
Talked to some new friends over at Conduit.
Rode a petty cab across town to a cool street art event from the fine folks at Trover.
Found some vegan street food, despite this guy's polite suggestion. Curiosity got the best of me.
Tried the Vegan Frito Pie, it was good. Also, proving once and for all... not all vegan food is healthy. :)
I partied like a Vegan till sunset.
Headed back to the west side to meet The Family Crest at the BandPage HQ.
Simultaneously earned this Gay badge of honor, while checking in on Foursquare. How I earned this in Texas, and not San Francisco, I have no idea. But I'll wear it with irony and pride. It was my best day ever, apparently.
Day 3 ===
Had breakfast/lunch at Frank. Place has amazing hotdogs and sausages.
I had a salad. it's about balance, people.
Balanced it with a coffee.
Wait a minute. That wasn't a coffee!
Oh, well. Welcome to SXSW.
The rest of the day was a blur.
I do remember this sign. And a flying saddle.
And being dizzy.
Really, really dizzy.
What happens at SXSW, hopefully stays at SXSW.
Day 4 ===
The duality of SXSW for me is that I'm just as much a music fan as a music creator. Suffice it to say, I have an issue each year figuring out how to balance seeing shows, going to meetings, and playing my own shows. You can't do it all, but you try. And if you're optimism doesn't turn into dissapointment when it doesn't quite work out that way... you'll have a good time.
Go with the flow.
That said, I was stoked about this party.
If you live in Austin, you're used to hearing great bands any night of the week. Especially if that band is from Austin. Like the Heartless Bastards. Jealous, much? Yes.
Didn't even mind waiting in this line for a free Jalepeño Margarita.
Or in another line for free tacos.
And then... The Heartless Bastards. I was not worried about being a fanboy in the front row.
Probably had one too many free Margaritas to care about being cool. I was that guy. Total fan mode. It felt good.
After having my socks rocked completely off and a few more "Freebitas" I took in some art at GSD&M on my way to the next party.
Then I went to paint the town... um... rainbow.
Day 5 ===
After all of the imbibing from the previous nights, it was time to wake up and get my head straight with a good 10 mile run.
*cough* Er... three and half miles *cough*
Felt like a marathon. Must be the humidity. Yeah.
Not the free hangover.
Combo deal. Ugh.
Then I went to see a brother-sister band with a tap dancing drummer. Because those are the kind of options you have at SXSW.
Definitely one of my favorite discoveries at the festival. Check them out here: He's My Brother, She's My Sister.
And then... to the Music Tech Meetup to rally with a bunch of Bay Area peeps.
Oh, no! More FREE MARGARITAS!
Oh, wait. That's just straight Tequila buried in limes.
Time for a swag count.
Free "Magic The Gathering, Technology Start Up Edition" Card set? Check.
Went out for a minute, met some F-bags.
(Fandango bags, of course.)
With an early charity show the next morning, i decided to call it a night.
Day 6, and so, on... Show days. ===
Thursday morning I woke pretty peppy for being chased by giant glasses of free margaritas all night. Normally this wouldn't be a nightmare for me, the opposite, in fact. Excess ain't rebellion, someone once said.
i arrived at Caritas Soup Kitchen and was greeted by a familiar face, my good friend and fellow bay area musician Megan Slankard. It was still pretty early for musicians (Musician time = standard time -3 hours) but she was her chipper self and it was nice to have the support. As people trickled in and the day began, I suddenly realized by her sudden shyness and doe eyed smile who she was really there to see. (Sorry Meg, you've been outed.)
Only moments later, I would have almost the same crush.
Meet Alex Cuba. I wish I could put into words the virility and smoothness of his voice and playing. Unbelievable.
(Even more unbelievable was the look on Megan's face when he gave me his phone number afterwards regarding another show. I've never seen her gasp before.)
But seriously... this guy is amazing. Check him out.
When it came time for me to play, I had an interesting opportunity. I'm always open to have some fun while playing, so I had an impromtu jam with one of the soup kitchen attendees who was pretty dang good on the harp. it was a blast.
It's a rare opportunity to give back during SXSW. So thank you Laura at ComboPlate Booking for giving me a chance at a very cool event.
Next I went to help Mihaela at LoungeFly SF booking to work on our showcase for that night...
I continued to eat healthy... er... no.
If you can't beat em...
Met my first Grammy at the Recording Academy Party.
Then we had a blast at the Loungefly SF Showcases at Maria Maria Austin.
Brad Brooks is an incredible singer. Definitely check him out.
My SXSW buddy Tae Phoenix debuted her new single and silenced a busy bar with her dynamic voice.
Got a chance to catch Kymberlee and her band. Great show. Can't wait to sing with her soon.
Bears of Manitou brought a washboard. Probably a good thing if you're on tour.
Then I proceeded to stomp through my set with a little help from Bears Of Manitou drummer, Brian... and of course Ben Balmer.
That night I ended up backstage at Bob Schneider. Man. What a songwriter. His band is incredible.
KC Turner and Killer Artist Agence threw an amazing day and night of music on Saturday. Ran into some old friends from last year's SXSW and got to "open" for another NBC Voice contestant
Mike June kicked it off.
And then I got to play for a full house and a great crowd. It was my final show at SXSW and after 5 shows and some amazing music I was really content. Such a great "South-By".
Then I got a call to see Adam Duritz play a small bar. So I went.
Had such a great time at the Outlaw Roadshow. Thanks to Ryan at Ryan's Smashing Life for the invite.
(Poster design by Man On Fire.)
Then to end the long week, my new friends and I had dinner at Maria Maria. (Thanks Mihaela)
And that pretty much sums up my best SXSW ever.
Thanks to Kole and Teresa for being my SXSW buddies and to all of my new friends... Thank you.