Since 2015, we have asked independent artists to share their favorite memories from their time at SXSW. In just a couple of years, this project has become one of our most popular features thanks to the growing interests of bands and singers from around the world. Forty-five artists participated in this year’s edition, including Phoria.
The Brighton, England-based quartet are one of the most unique bands on the planet. Their songs are not so much entertainment but works of art. Like the great masterpieces, every stroke and every note are done with great precision, and the sum of the individual parts is something to behold. Their album, Volition, was an emotional, fifty-minute roller coaster that we continue to ride today, and everything was done with immense thought. That record cemented Phoria’s place near the top of our list of favorite bands.
Like their music, they went to SXSW focused and poured every ounce of their energy into the showcases. But not only that, they put tremendous thought in the post-SXSW products they were asked to produce – from the photo diary they shared over at The 405 to writing this eloquent piece of memories for us, which includes an elaborate photo essay. What’s interesting is that no two pictures are the same and their memories have been written differently, including with unique memories for each site. For their work and their music, we are forever grateful.
Since we were kids we’ve dreamed of playing in the USA. It’s pretty much every band’s dream to tour the States, and SXSW is a festival of legendary proportions. We were psyched to get the offer to play, and any preconceived ideas were blown out of the water by the reality that met us. Austin is insane…that’s official.
The sheer scale of this festival is terrifying. When you think you’ve got a sense of its size, you wander around another block and, bang, there’s a whole other district that you had yet explored. We spent a lot of time on Rainey and Red River Street, and we caught shows by Agnes Obel, Sohn (Festival highlight), Aldous Harding, Weaves, and Mt.Wolf, among others. This festival really tests a band. Some of the venues are not the easiest to play, so any artist worth their salt can deliver against the odds (small stages, bad sound, loud audiences, and city sounds leaking through). The bands listed above delivered. Sohn was inspirational. He played such an epic show at Mohawk, which ended up being our favorite stage.
Our week was filled with business meetings, rehearsals, amazing food consumption, incredible music, crazy street atmospherics, free parties, free stuff, free everything…Austin is a generous city. Austinites are incredibly friendly folk. We encountered so many truly friendly people that it was really hard not to like the place. We stayed in Woodrow, a suburb where the locals sat on their stoops in the evening and walked their dogs with a glass of wine in hand. We were really lucky to have neighbours who gave us full access to their pool and hot tub, which was amazing in such high temperatures.
We tried to take in as much music as we could, but sometimes it was just as fun to spend time taking in the craziness on the streets – performers from everywhere doing all sorts of weirdness. We even met a guy walking around with his kangaroo, which was just plain weird and cruel. Inflatable dinosaurs, alien masks, gold painted ladies, werewolf-masked violinists….there was all sorts of crazy everywhere we went. There were plenty of Anti-Trump demos as well, which shows that Austin is not necessarily representative of the rest of Texas.
Austin is a foodie heaven! We checked out a proper, authentic Texan BBQ at Style Switch. It really was as good as everyone led us to believe. We tried another one at the airport, and, although it was decent, it just didn’t match up to that recommended one. There as a lot of fresh and organic produce available at the local store and a deli that was out of this world, too. Tex Mex, BBQ, and all things Texan were sampled along with sweet potato fries smothered in cinnamon and honey. Even bread seems to have sugar in it!
The Spotify House party was our spiritual home from home for most of the week. A wooden mansion a little off the beaten track and rammed full of tour essentials from socks through to D’Addario equipment supplies…all for free! The bar was free, too! Thanks Spotify. It was lots of fun!
Ed, our keyboard player and the more cultured member of the band took time out to visit some of the sights and even drove out to the lakes out of town. We feel we live our lives vicariously through him.
We played Sidewinder on Saturday night at the end of the Festival. The stage was pretty snug for a five-piece band like us, but we made it work. The stressful, time-pressured set up – where we tried to squeeze all of our kit on stage – meant that we had to cut our set length, but the show was really fun to play. We were lucky to have a really attentive audience, who gave us such a warm welcome and we even met some super fans after the show. Thank You to all those who made the trip to see us. We’re so humbled!
SXSW you were crazy and we loved you. We’ll definitely be back!!!
Phoria are Seryn Burden (drums), Tim Douglas (bass/synth), Jeb Hardwick (guitar), Trewin Howard (vocals/composition/ production/electronics), and Ed Sanderson (piano/synth).
Most photos taken by Ciara Nolan.
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