Yesterday, eight artists shared their favorite memories of SXSW, reflecting on everything from movie stars Bill Murray to Elijah, eating at notable eateries like Torchy’s Tacos, searching for an iconic record store in the rain, creating souvenirs to hand out to the audience, and seeing some top-notch acts like The Zombies, Angel Olsen, and The Damned. Today, seven more artists share their memorable moments. What do they have in store for us?
Chelsea Lankes (US)
1. I grew up in Texas, so running into friends from high school was so fun.
2. The crowd singing along to my song “down for whatever” at my last show.
3. I actually loved walking in the rain.
Cold Mailman (Norway)
1. The best show we saw was easily Hanne Kolsto at Icenhauer’s the same night we played. She writes perfect songs, and her band is just ridiculously good. Actually that whole evening was a blast! The sound was good, the crowd was awesome, and we had fun playing ourselves.
2. Food and fluids, in general, were pretty great, especially when it comes to what Austin had to offer for the vegan and vegetarians in the band. Cherrywood Coffeehouse for the breakfast and the atmosphere, and Houndstooth for their sweet Ethiopian espresso. Oh, and drinks at The Driskill!
3. Amason from Sweden played the Central Presbytarian Church, and even though using that place as a venue for anything that features a drumkit is just stupid, the concert was beautiful and everyone should check out that band.
Monte Tramonte of The Delta Riggs (Australia)
1. Finally got a chance to see Charles Bradley perform while we were at SXSW & it was awesome! 66-years old and sexy as fuck. The band were so tasteful and the show was pure entertainment. Just his story alone is worth checking out. He’s lived a pretty unique life, and it’s so rad to see that even at that point in life you can totally own anything. Powerful stuff.
2. The Manic Shuffle! It’s one of those things that you know is coming, but are never quite prepared for the actuality of it all. It’s a massive few days, and all you can do is play your best and just meet as many people as you can. There are so many acts out there all vying for essentially the same thing, so to experience the week that was with all the people and the running about was quite an eye opener.
3. People Watching – This was the best! All shapes and sizes, introverts and extroverts, the hustlers and the quiet achievers. I’m sure SXSW is not what it was 10 or so years ago, but it’s quite empowering to see everyone around town going for it. Whether it’s just your punter out having a hell time or the bands trying to get something going, the sum of these parts makes SXSW what is now, for better or worse.
Gengahr (United Kingdom)
1. We had an interview live on BBC Radio 1, which was great. It was fun reporting back on our time in Austin so far. We had to choose a song to be played which influenced us in some way and a song we all love as a band. We chose “Desire Lines” by Deerhunter. But they played a song off an album of the same title by Camera Obscura by accident, which was pretty funny.
2. Seeing Speedy Ortiz at The House of Vans was awesome! They put on a great show! It was one of the first things we saw, andI think remained as certainly one of the best performances we saw throughout the week. Those guys are pretty flawless live.
3. We were taken out to dinner with our host for the week by Jim, a local weather man from KXAN, who was the nicest guy. We went to a place called Chuy’s. We understand its a pretty legendary place. The food was amazing and the frozen margaritas were pretty addictive. We all ended up buying souvenir T-Shirts with sparkly pink tacos and guacamole zombies on them.
1. The AirB&B we stayed in was one of the weirdest houses I’ve ever been to in my entire life – think unicorn tapestries, nun statues, framed photos of men wearing dresses. To top it off, one of the other guys staying there (NOT in our band) decided to bring groupies home after most of the shows, and I woke up with some random drunk chick standing over my air mattress trying to stroke my hair at 2 in the morning. Classy.
2. Seeing The Zombies play together. What an incredible band! We danced to “This Will Be Our Year”, and it was possibly the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard live. The crowd was great, and they were spot on…50 years and going strong! That was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime show.
3. Having an allergic reaction to my sunscreen where my throat swelled up to the point where I had to go to an emergency clinic, and then playing our official showcase the same day where we had to load ALL of our gear through a creepy alley (where one of our bandmates bought weed from 2 guys literally smoking crack behind a dumpster) and up the very steep stairs in the club. The place was PACKED, and I was roid-raging a little bit from the meds they put me on at the doctor’s office. Our keyboard player’s stand collapsed halfway through the set, so he held it up with one hand til the end of the set. My beer exploded when we had about 3 songs left, so it was one of the most rock ‘n roll shows we’ve ever played, with beer foaming all over my equipment & gear collapsing The Who-style. I’d do it again!
Ned and the Dirt (US)
1. Our favorite moment from this year was the pop-up show that we created with all of our friends from NYC. Wednesday morning, we found ourselves wanting more showcases, so we had a collective, “Why don’t we just make one happen” moment. We called GYMSHORTS, Heeney, Lost Boy?, and Bueno and got them all on board for playing the next day. Thanks to the awesome bands we got on the bill we packed out the back patio of The Great Outdogs dog store in less than 24 hours!
2. The moment that came close to topping the showcase was how we came about using the Great Outdogs as our venue. We originally planned to play at Peter Pan Mini Golf (one of our favorite iconic Austin spots), but when we arrived an hour and a half before the show, the manager on duty quickly reneged on their promise to have us and our surprise showcase. We all split up to race to the local businesses surrounding Peter Pan to ask them if they’d be willing to stick their necks out for us and rock n’ roll. The last place we asked, and frankly, the last place we expected to do so, pulled through for us. The Great Outdogs dog store became our lone sentinel for DIY rock, as they invited us to have the showcase on their back patio directly across the street. Not only were they more than happy to host us and our surprise DIY showcase, but they started throwing all of their resources at us to try and figure out ways that they could help support us. They created a projection for the side of their building to advertise the showcase, provided us with power and lighting, and then helped us to arrange the patio so that it’d fit us perfectly. We left that night in disbelief of the unfailing generosity that Matt and the Great Outdogs showed us. Thanks to them and our friends from NYC we were able to put together a killer showcase!
3. We also loved the juxtaposition between our Saturday gig at Whomp Smoke Shop with free beer and barbecue, and our Sunday morning show at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, where we had to play at 10% volume but still received a standing ovation. To go from being surrounded by alcohol, smoke and partying to breakfast tacos, coffee and church pews all in the name of sharing our music felt very symbolic for what we love most about SXSW!
Made Violent (US)
JUSTIN: It’s certain that all of us will always remember the pain and suffering that is SXSW – long days, not much sleep, a lot of beer. But one of our favorite parts was being able to stop and listen to our surroundings. After playing back-to-back shows one night, we were hanging out behind a club waiting to load our van up. It was about 2:00 AM – and I was able to hear Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” blaring in the distance. It immediately sent shivers down everyone’s spine and reminded us why we were there. Being surrounded by good people and good fucking music is what I’ll always remember about our first SXSW!
ROB: SXSW was my first time in Austin, and I couldn’t have picked a better way to take it all in. After a brutal winter at home, nothing was better than arriving to a perfect sunny day and getting a little burn on my neck. Besides all the obvious great things about SXSW, the best part for me was exploring a new city and meeting a bunch of others that love music as much as I do.
JOE: Any time I travel, I’ve got a rule to veer as far away as possible from any tourist traps, extreme cringe-worthy gatherings of people, etc. Hell, it even took me until my 10th time in NYC to finally set foot in Times Square. I always try my best to dive head-first into the culture of a city, rather than get lost in the shuffle of wandering, zombified tourists or festival attendees. I definitely got what I asked for in our first Austin, TX experiment.
I had pulled up our van to park on 3rd Street, about a block or two down from where we would be doing our Daytrotter session. It was a very old brick house with ornate windows, arches, and a beautiful Mexican family crest over the front door. I nervously double checked the parking with the stern looking gentleman standing out front. He immediately lit up and wasted no time in getting a party started for us. He brought out the son of the woman who had owned the house and who would eventually become the host of the party, Jose. The family had been on that part of the block since 1910! He gave me a full history lesson of the city and his family. He told me all about his aunt who opened the very first tortilla factory in Austin. He ran inside to make and share with us some fresh homemade tacos with queso fresco – literally the best tacos I’ve ever had (or anyone will ever have for that matter). We shared Modelos behind the fence, safe from the tyranny of the big bad bike cops. He spoke of the good SXSW brings and, of course, the bad. He spoke of the inevitability of the residents of that neighborhood being driven out due to the festival, property taxes being doubled (even tripled) over the last 10 years, and figures upwards of millions of dollars being offered to them if they hand over their property. He insisted that his mother, his aunt, and his beloved abuelita would be hunkering down for as long as they could before eventually cashing out when the time is right. He spoke of local businesses being legitimately demolished without any notice (the piñata factory that once stood around the corner). Despite the dark reality of big business and festival greed, he explained his family really does love everything the festival brings to Austin.
Aside from the festival, he made it seem as if Austin is a grandiose magnet for all sorts of culture. All sorts of weird. All sorts of people. Towards the end, a seemingly homeless and incoherent man stumbled up the sidewalk. To my surprise they called out his nickname, “Meathead”. Turns out, he had lost his whole life during Katrina and the great magnet drew him to Austin. They asked him to sing for us and at first I cringed at the idea, but was immediately in complete awe as he gave us his most soulful rendition of “And God Created Woman” by Prince. Many a times I have to stop and tell myself, “Maybe life’s not so strange”. Austin is weird… but it’s not so strange.
It was quite the experience. The universe did seem to come together in those two hours we shared with Jose y familia at the mini block party they threw for us…strangers – the long haired, “rock n roll hippies” from somewhere else. I’ll never forget my proper welcome – Jose speaking the now seemingly immortal words, “Welcome to Austin”.
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