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 False Advertising.
The trio of Jen Hingley, Chris Warr, and Josh Sellers are one of our collective favorite groups. Their searing alt-rock is reminiscent of Soundgarden, Garbage, Royal Blood, and Slothrust. It’s edgy, fun, and mind-blowing, and listening to their music for an hour is exhilarating and exhausting. These three abide by the mantra – live hard, play hard – but Austin triggered something much more deeper, which demonstrates the effect SXSW can have beyond contracts with labels and publicity from the mega-sites.
One of the best moments there was when Jen and I were wondering what to do next when she suggested we go and catch the set from Living Body at Esther’s Follies. It’s a little theatre laden with jewel-like tiles and colourful patchwork interior, which when the lighting bounced off it felt like you were caught inside a stained glass window.
I walked in, and we grabbed a beer with two of the locals and talked about wacky shirt designs. It just was dead normal, not having to worry about accidentally embarrassing myself among some industry folk. So Living Body were an amazing escape for me. I sat and watched the band’s dramatic narratives unfold as I reflected on what SXSW has brought me so far. It was a bit surreal to watch, as, despite being able to hear the 6th Street crowds through the door, you’re almost detached from the hectic festival hubbub regardless of it being in the heart of the city.
It was in this moment that I became aware that SXSW creates an atmosphere like no other I was expecting. It’s an unbelievable sense of community of every single person involved wanting the best not just for themselves – but for each other. Something I have felt can be so easily and integrally forgotten. Being in a band can be a selfish thing if you’re not careful. Talking to the people in bands, hearing their stories and connecting with them made me realize that we’re all in this together while having the times of our lives in the process. And there are no better people in the world to share that with than your bandmates.
Having just completed a mission to get Rag’n’Bone Man’s autograph for a friend, I passed Steve Lamacq in the street. As I stopped and wondered whether I should talk to him, he begins walking towards me, so I grab the opportunity. “You’re Steve right?”, I asked. “Yeah” he replied. In hindsight, I wished I had phrased this better. I explained to Steve that Huw Stephens (also from Radio 1 in the UK – massive radio station) had recently spun our record and wondered if he might check us out, to which he replied that he did the previous day when we played our official SXSW showcase at BD Rileys!
I thanked him profusely for making the effort and he apologized that he couldn’t watch the whole set, as there were a lot of bands to get round. I said that’s really not a problem and explained that the whole experience has been amazing anyway and it’s way beyond anything I had hoped for – being billed among such a high standard of bands is a bit mind blowing! He said he was going this way and I said I’m going that… I said, “See ya ’round”, and he said he would see what he could do. Top bloke.
The standout moment for me was actually when we got through security after landing in Houston. I spent so much time reading, asking, and worrying about whether US Immigration would think we were breaking the rules of our visa waivers by coming to play the festival. We had received so much conflicting advice that I was half expecting to be turned back around at the border. I really didn’t actually get fully excited about the trip until the Immigration Officer stamped my passport, and I went through to collect my baggage. The relief of it all really hit me in that moment. It was intense! I was so grateful to be in and able to showcase our music in such an amazing place
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