I went to my first SXSW a few weeks ago now, it was quite an experience being overwhelmed by so much live music. In the end I didn’t really chase that many bands as I did when I went to CMJ in New York a couple years ago, and hence had a much better time. There were bands playing everywhere, in all the official and unofficial venues, house parties, cafes, pizza shops, car parks, abandoned supermarkets, etc. Austin truly is the live music capital of the world. The whole town was engulfed in party atmosphere for the entire week, and there was some real Texas barbecue to be had, yum!
Of course the Dappled Cities boys were there again, playing their awesome new songs to excited fans and media. They also managed to find the time to play the Who The Hell SXSW opening party. Thanks guys!
They’ve written a somewhat how-to guide for other bands aspiring to go:
SXSW: A friendly Guide
It is almost too often that I am riding my standard issue Segway down Main St when a young fellow approaches me with the news that they are nearing embarkation on their first SXSW trip. So often do I get asked for advice on making this most important of journeys that I herein offer my most formal advice in written form on this “website” slash “blog”. I hope you all find it useful and achieve multi-million dollar record deals, like I did.
1. Form a band
SXSW is primarily a music festival so you will need to be in some sort of musical group, partnership or solo project. I would recommend placing an ad in your local music newspaper or online blog to start the group. Here is the ad that I used to start Dappled Cities.
Very talented and good looking singer looking for retired butler to help with standard household duties. Must have own Brasso and rags.
If that doesn’t work, there is also a SXSW film festival and a SXSW interactive festival so you could still go to the festival if you enter a film you have made or an … interactive… thing … that you’ve done.
2. Set up good meetings before you go
While many people randomly see you passing by whilst playing a gig, you really need to set up meetings with the people you want to meet with before you go. Good people I would suggest are the head of EMI records, Metallica, Woody Harrelson, and Eva Longoria. They can all generally be contacted via telegram.
I would suggest meeting at the Driskill Hotel. If you make it look like you are staying there, it looks like you are rich so when people meet you they’ll offer you 10% on what they were going to give you. That counts for tourist Segway rides.
3. Have some kind of pre-arranged deal in place before you go
This is so you have some kind of leverage when the big offers come through. If you don’t have time to get a deal up and running from a label anywhere, I would suggest saying that Capitol records have put in an offer. They have so many acts they wouldn’t know if they’ve signed you or not. In fact they probably have and you just don’t know it yet.
4. Bring 15 litres of water, a standard 4 tonne truck with forty holes punched in the sides for air, 18 metres of rope, American and Mexican papers, a Polaroid camera and a rifle or powerful handgun.
This isn’t really for the festival but you get the impression. Texas. Border. People. Smuggling. Extra. Cash.
5. Bring a second band
It becomes pretty obvious by the first gig whether your band is going to be successful or not at SXSW. For the people who realize that it isn’t going as well as they thought, the idea of having a backup band to play in is not such a bad idea. In fact, I think I’m going to suggest that at future SXSWs that there is a place that band-members can go from day 2 onwards and you can just start a new band with the other defected members you meet there. I think truly great musical projects would form from such a happening.
On the point before, to ensure that you aren’t disappointed, I’d recommend rehearsing at home until you’re the best live band in the world. I’m serious. With 1000 bands playing, it’s damn hard to stand out and the only way to do that is to play a fricken killer live show. Or unleash your world famous “chicken with a moth and two candles” act on unsuspecting punters.
7. Bring spare money, not too much gear and Kanye West.
It’s so busy that it’s hard getting around and the less gear you have the easier it is to play your gig on time. Most events have all the gear set up for you so just be expecting the worst sound and it can only get better from there. Besides, by bringing Kanye West to all your gigs, it won’t matter how you sound because you’ll have so much cred. To get in touch about hiring Kanye for events, just contact his manager.
8. Finally, bring loads of things with you band’s name on it.
With so many bands playing, it’s soooo easy for someone to forget who you are the minute you finish playing. So have stuff that is easy to give them with your name on it. Merch that I have found goes down well in the past are Toyots Prius’, VHS copies of “The Crow”, Anne Geddis’ calendars with the babies heads replaced with the face of Steve Vizard, and your last album or EP.