“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
The interesting part about an event like South By Southwest for a musician is that the description from a firsthand experience can’t truly reflect the experience itself. I can tell you what we did and who we saw & heard, which was really amazing, and I’ll do my best to invoke the intensity of inspiration that we felt being immersed in this place. But it won’t do it justice. This trip was just as much for you the reader to gain insight and keep up with what 2/3 Goat is doing, as it was for me, Annalyse McCoy, personally, and for Ryan Dunn, personally. We came away inspired by the talent, spirit, and musical freshness that surrounded us.
As I’d mentioned, Ryan & I didn’t have official SXSW badges, but through the years so many “unofficial” festivals and events have developed around the convention; and at this point, many times even major artists who are showcasing at official, badge-only events will also build some time for a free, unofficial show while they’re in town.
One great show we were able to see was The Flaming Lips, with Jim James opening, at Auditorium Shores. This venue is an open-air field right along the river on the south side. Jim James and his band were captivating with every note & beat change. Awesome show.
The Flaming Lips were debuting their first new show in over 10 years, with all new music. There were some kinks for sure, since it was highly technical, but visually beautiful with LED lighting behind them. I did, however, question the choice of lead singer Wayne Coyne holding a fake baby for the entire show which seemed to be attached to plastic or rubber tentacles that laid over his shoulders and spread all over the stage behind & around him; and the choice that he made to kiss and comfort the fake baby during certain songs. Definitely interesting, something I had never seen; along with a topless girl inside a huge clear plastic ball that was being passed around above the front of the crowd. The strobe effect was strong and we saw one guy being ushered out of the crowd by his friends, presumably from some kind of seizure. Ryan and I then decided to don our sunglasses for the rest of the (night) concert; it was still gorgeous!
The Red Gorilla Music Festival is a pretty great opportunity for lots of up-and-coming bands to play unofficially at venues all along 6th Street, the main hub of entertainment in Austin. We wandered into a bar that had a roof party going on (with live music, like everywhere else). Entering the roof during a changeover, we got ourselves a spot (standing room only) and realized that the next band up was Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics, a funk-tastic, swinging band that I’d gotten a Starbucks download from a couple months ago.
There is a feeling over the whole city during this time; you feel as if you’re in this magical place where artists are in transition, reinventing themselves every moment, becoming better than what they were the last moment. You feel the past and the future of these bands & artists; the momentum, the “potential energy.” Not solid, liquid, or gas; but plasma. All these charged particles, these breathing things, who are living with every step and every note played. All these individuals who have traveled and made it to this place; and who are both affected by, and are constantly effecting, the world around them. We were magnetically charged by this energy ourselves, and are slightly different people even now, in the best way possible, for having attended.
Another band we saw in the Red Gorilla Music Fest was Old Southern Moonshine Revival. They are a great group based out of High Point, North Carolina. We walked into a bar called Amped where they were playing and wondered why the place was almost empty. Then we realized that there was no alcohol; the bartender told us that the venue was new and had failed to get their liquor license in time for SXSW. And here was this kickass band, playing a song at that moment called “Who’s Got The Moonshine.” I had the same question. These guys were amazing and I hope they didn’t feel shafted because of the bar’s absolute fail.
Indie Bands on the Rise
Many of the free concerts offered require a simple RSVP online. We decided to RSVP to The Deli Magazine’s Un/Off Party at a small bar called Rusty’s a bit off the beaten path. They had two stages: one in the front and one out back on the patio. By the time we arrived on one of our last nights there, it was about 11pm and we walked right in with no line waiting at the door, and saw Pearl and the Beard (at right) setting up. They’re a great Brooklyn band that are so worth checking out.
Out back on the patio at exactly the same time, was another group from NYC: The Lone Bellow. They’re another example of country/folk influenced bands who are coming out of our great city. Made me proud. I definitely recommend. Tight harmonies and great songs!
Photo Album – SXSW 2013 – Other Highlights
The rooftop at Whole Foods in Austin – During SXSW, the whole town goes all out. Whole Foods began in Austin, so the city is super proud to host free music everyday throughout the entire week.
The Lost Maples, our friends from Nashville, played an official showcase. Andy Wilmoth, our Nashville drummer, was pulling double duty during this week playing with us as well as the Maples.
Ryan & I took a trip to South Austin Music, a shop on South Lamar, and I discovered this beauty. An electric mandolin with lots of effects. I’m in LOVE.
A gorgeous house on a hill with a great view of the hills to the south as well as the new skyscrapers that form Austin’s growing skyline. This is my preferred home if we ever move to Austin…
Surrounding the entrance to Auditorium Shores were LOTS of these – look like motorcycle parking to you? Nope, it’s bicycle parking. And there were probably thousands of bikes. THAT many people chose this as their mode of transport during this week. Austin is a SUPER conscious city, very progressive – and it tends to draw individuals with that mindset as well.
Tour Tip #111: If you’re thinking of going to SXSW next year, GO. It’s an amazing experience with the most music – good music – I’ve been exposed to in a while.
Stay tuned for the rest of the Tour… We’re currently in Kentucky. Updates soon!
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