More from SXSW
By Bree Houlihan
Tuesday started at 8am with continental breakfast and coffee. I spent most of the morning fine-tuning my schedule along side maps and looking up more information for all the artists. The schedules were every changing which left me to messaging artists Facebook’s in hopes of getting some direction back. Tuesday’s agenda: trade show, Black Milk boat party, Mohawk Outdoor stage, and Peelander Z. Again, the wait came for a cab. This time estimates ranged anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours as I should have expected.
My cab driver arrived about an hour after my call. I got in the mini-van and the driver introduced himself as QT and that he was so happy to meet me. Showing his southern hospitality he gave me a nice tour as we headed downtown avoiding the traffic. QT showed me the little neighborhood of Hyde Park while shuffling around the narrow streets. We approached the University of Texas campus and he pointed out the $300,000 practice football stadium, track field, then the Longhorn’s Stadium. “We love our football in case you couldn’t tell,” said QT as we passed the stadium spanning a few city blocks.
QT dropped me off at 6th & Red River so I could get to the convention center. He showed me which way to go then wished me a safe and fun SXSW. I headed into the main exhibition room to check out the trade show. The first thing to catch my eye was the GIANT Pure Michigan display. I made my way up and down each aisle checking out each booth from independent ticketing companies to Mophie and then Pure Michigan! It was nice to see Michigan with two of the biggest displays in the exhibit hall. The Pure Michigan booth highlighted some of Michigan’s most beautiful places to visit, local breweries, and other attractions. In the middle there was a game that reminded me of Price is Right meets baseball practice meets skeeball with extrta large beach balls. Next door was the second largest display in the room, University of Michigan. I was definitely proud to be a Michigander walking around the trade show.
I then continued on to check out the international booths with some live performances. Canadian artist Mise en Scene played a special solo acoustic performance. Then there was the Swedish booth which could only be described as Bjork’s Swan Lake musical duo. Everyone that passed by had to stop to at least capture a picture of these artists. Although not international, the Made in Chicago booth also had a very impressive performance by Que Sera, solo female artist. I made my way to the back of the trade show interacting in booths by NASA, Price is Right and Samsung.
In addition to the trade show, I scheduled myself for the A&R for Music-Tech conference. The panel of artist managers, record label representatives, and talent scouts spoke to developing artists and people in the music and entertainment industry. They gave tips on how to gain exposure and fans as well as connect with themselves as talent scouts. The panel gave their personal opinions as well as common census of what to say and what not to say to artists, fans, record labels, talent scouts, and anyone you may come in to contact with the music industry.
It was getting late into the evening and with recommendations of local Austin attendee’s I tried out a BBQ food truck popular for their pulled pork sandwich. As I came to expect, it did not disappoint. After a quick dinner and checking my emails, I headed to the ‘Free with RSVP’ events I had signed up for. First up was Cheer Up Charlie’s for some southern artists. Then on to Plush to see Sinistarr, Detroit DJ & producer. The drum & bass crowd packed the venue and the energy was hype. Sinistarr started with some reggacore getting the dancefloor moving then dropped some DnB and bass music to make for an all too short hour set. After making my way back through the even more crowded venue, I headed to Valhalla for what would be the most unpredictable set thus far.
On 6th street, all the buzz was Peelander Z. This Japanese based punk band from New York was the go-to event at midnight. I was told by the fans I met to not look them up, just show up for the experience. That was enough to have me waiting in line 45 minutes before their set to make sure I got in. I was told I would have to wait for people a few people to leave as Valhalla was at capacity. Peelander Z was on stage at midnight and I immediately knew I came to the right show. They started with full colorful body suits as well as animal costumes and ‘instruments’ for the party to join in on the fun. I had worked up a sweat half-way through their set with everyone else in full dance mode. Then Peelander Yellow and Peelander Green brought out a giant jump rope in the middle of the party adding to the fun and heat in the room.
Peelander Z was the perfect way to end my first night of the music festival. The energy helped me get through the walk to find a cab and crawl into bed anxious for the next day.
Wednesday started again at the convention center. I made my way to the exhibition hall ‘Next Stage’. Dana Falconberry took the stage for a quick performance and speech. Dana, originally from Dearborn, MI, and her band played sweet, gentle harmonies that she wrote from experiences in nature and the great outdoors. They even had a record Leelanau based on her trips to Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan! A short but touching experience to hear.
Just down the street at the outdoor stage named ‘The Annex’, Jessica Hernandez and The Delta’s were on deck. A cozy outdoor side-stage was the perfect setting for this Detroit soul band. The funky, rock, soul band had the hip attendees grooving and smiling the whole way through. Their stage presence was more than energetic but passion resinated from the keys up to the trombone. Jessica Hernandez and The Delta’s brought just the heart and soul Austin needed to see from Detroit.
I was all too excited to see the next band for my first time. White Shag was next on the schedule at a bar south of downtown, The 04 Lounge. As I mentioned before, I was having difficulty finding some of the artists shows and I reached out to White Shag via Facebook. Laura, singer and guitarist, responded quickly about a show they had booked and I was stoked to see them live for the first time.