It’s hard to know where to start when writing about the awesomeness that rolls around every year here in Austin, Texas that is SXSW. So much magic can happen and all within a little more than the two weeks time that it occurs in that it can be a little overwhelming at times as there never really is a dull moment in the city during the festival!
This year, my SXSW fun started out with a pretty epic show at The Mohawk with some amazing friends (see future band pic below) for a Planned Parenthood sponsored event featuring PVRIS (pronounced Paris) and Sleigh Bells! We got to the venue super early to be sure we got in and it was so worth it! I had totally forgotten how crazy the pit gets for Sleigh Bells since it had been a couple of years since I had seen them when they play at Stubb’s last. My friend Rebecca and I got really close to the stage for about 4 or 5 songs, but soon dropped to the back since the mosh pit was going strong. The two Chris’s chose the calmer view by watching from one of the balconies at The Mohawk. Really great way to start off the SXSW festivities!
Outside while waiting in line, I also finalized the distribution and PRO registration items for a track on the new album with Ritch as he was walking by the Mohawk on his way to Elysium. Ritch is featured on what is now the title track (track 5) to the Mindshift-1 album “The Burned Days” which came out this year. Truly a proper SXSW moment as it was a year before during SXSW 2016 that I had asked if he would do a guest vocal on the new album and it came all came around full circle.
My next night out was Wednesday which pretty much kicks off the music portion of SXSW. I had requested Thursday and Friday off to get into the fun SXSW stuff and decided to not buy a Music Wristband this year, so I was just going to see what I could get into and go with the flow. I stopped in to to a venue called Clearport first as an artist I had met in 2016 named QUALIATIK was playing her official show.
I met up with my buddy Ritch over at The Sidewinder and we headed over to Elysium to hang for a bit and to figure out what was going on that night. I mentioned that an artist I like named Laura Carbone was going to be playing Swan Dive for her first of four SXSW shows and that she would be awesome to check out. We headed over to Side Bar for a bit and then made our way over to Swan Dive.
We got in to Swan Dive and I was really excited that I was going to be able to attend Laura’s first of four shows as I was Ritch’s guest at the club. I had originally caught her band last year at SXSW 2016 as I walked into Tellers, a bar that I had been playing my flamenco guitar sets at a few weeks before, to visit some friends. I heard the band playing upstairs and immediately knew that the music was amazing and appealed to my tastes. I had a wristband in 2016, so I went upstairs and caught most of her set that day. Anyhow..back to the Swan Dive gig…I had been jamming her album out the week before SXSW this year and was looking forward to the show. The set was awesome as the band played a lot of new songs that I had not heard before…but would definitely hear more of in the coming week as the story continues. Here are a few of the pics from that show:
Thursday was a really cool experience. I ran into my buddy and amazing photographer Chris Cantoya and we tried to get into the BANKS show over at Bangers Sausage House, but the SXSW officials decided to restrict it to Badge and Wristband holders only, so we didn’t stick around. As I made my way back over to The Sidewinder, I ran into Laura Carbone and the band and mentioned that I would catch them again at the day show at the Convention Center tomorrow for their second show as it was open to the public.
I made it to The Sidewinder where my buddy Ritch was working the outdoor stage as he does sound and managing for the venue out there. There was a really awesome SXSW official showcase going on when I arrived and was able to dance and groove to Tunde Olaniran, Au/Ra and Flint Eastwood! This was my very first time to even hear of these artists and the showcase was pretty awesome…I was really impressed with Au/Ra as this was her first show…as in ever!
When I got home later that evening, I found that I had received the shirt I had ordered from Laura Carbone in the mail a few weeks before. There were a few signed items that also came in the envelope which was super cool!
The next morning (Friday), I woke up and prepared myself for the day. I was going to head over to the Austin Convention Center in order to catch Laura Carbone’s second show. This was a really great venue to catch her band in as the setup was very professional as it was directly inside the Convention Center. The sound system was really nice and the area was well lit, so it provided a really great environment to hear the music and take some great photos.
I had met up with my friend Rebecca for a bit and we walked downtown checking out the SXSW sights as she attended the show I mentioned above, but I could not hang too long as I ran over to the outdoor stage at the Sheraton for Laura Carbone’s third official SXSW show. This was a pretty cool little setup outside with a covered stage. Here is where I said what I thought would be my final goodbye of the festival to Laura and her band as I was unsure if I would be able to get into the last show at the Central Presbyterian Church that was going to take place Saturday evening. Little did I know that this was not going to be the case, but more on that later. Here are pics from the performance:
After this last and what I thought final performance for me to attend, I quickly ran over to the Iron Bear to catch my buddies The Nimbus perform for their official SXSW 2017 show. They always put on an excellent performance and also was treated to a pretty wicked cool lineup after as Kite performed as well as Todd Fink from The Faint as a new side project called Closeness. Pretty awesome synth based lineup!
Once this show was done, I ran over to The Brew Exchange to the Get Buzzed party that featured Goldroom. My friend Rebecca (previously mentioned) had sent me info on how to get VIP access to this party and I had signed up. As I walked up to the venue, there literally was a line of people waiting to get in snaking around the front entrance. I asked for the VIP entrance and was directed to go around to the back of the bar in the alley. I did and showed the guy watching the door back there my VIP pass and viola..I was in! I quickly messaged Rebecca the details of how to get in and she eventually got in and then it was time to dance to Goldroom!
That was the end of the night and the end to a pretty epic day at SXSW!
Now for the final act. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get in to Laura Carbone’s final and most epic SXSW 2017 performance which was at the Central Presbyterian Church. I had been to several performances at this venue before, but never a SXSW show. Without an official Wristband or Badge, the idea of getting in was slowly becoming harder for me to fathom, but I figured I would give it a shot anyway. Anyhow, I walked up to the front of the church and was told that I would not be able to get in unless I could contact the artist performing so they could place me on a list for entry. There I was…final day and the final show I was hoping to catch from a pretty epic experience so far and was totally denied. I still had hope, but it was fading pretty fast. I was outside on the street when I felt my phone vibrate with a notification:
Totally awesome and unexpected! Talk about some true SXSW magic happening as I got to hang with the band one last time and check out their final set of SXSW 2017!
I couldn’t stay long after the show and said goodbyes for the final time this year to Laura and the band. They’re some of the nicest and amazing musicians that I have been able to meet and am forever grateful for them allowing me to come along for their wild ride at SXSW this past year. I hope to see you all again in the future sometime and am looking forward to Laura’s new music as it comes out!
I ran over to the Townsend to catch my friend Mr. Kitty’s set for his official SXSW show. Playing before him was an amazing artist that I had never seen and heard before named Fifi Rong. Her set was mesmerizing as she performed her tracks for the show.
The final Artist set of my SXSW 2017 experience was Mr. Kitty. It is always an amazing performance whenever I have caught his sets previously and this one fit right in. He lit up The Townsend with his beats, lights, and vocals and I always find myself dancing to his music!
So…there you have it. My SXSW 2017 in a nutshell. It was a really great time this past year and in just a few months from now, it will take place all over again. It truly is a festival like no other that I have ever been to as the whole downtown Austin area becomes the actual festival grounds. Two whole weeks of fun (at times a little more) and creative events and opportunities with the Film, Interactive and Comedy sections happening throughout the first week and the music part of the festival officially kicking off the Wednesday of the second. No matter what week it is though, there is always something going on and you never know who you may run into. Could be friends, family, movie stars, musicians and so many others and it is definitely worth taking a moment to see what one may be able to experience in downtown Austin, Texas during it.