Here are some of the photos I took and drawings I made at SXSW in 2015. This time around, I made the effort to always give the performers my drawings. Musicians are almost always flattered or appreciative, but I have less time to ink color and perfect the illustrations. Also, sometimes there is rain or dancing crowds or other elements that make it difficult to draw. I use soft pastels, which are quick and intense, but can be messy. I had a pink sweater and sock and ipad case for a week because a red soft pastel got crushed in my bag.
Okite Porsche played SUPER hyper hyphy happy perky Japanese pop, and ran around and poured energy drink all over himself, he also played kissing games with the crowd and did 90% of his show out in the crowd, only occasionally going back on stage to put a new song on. An especially wacky stage antic was inviting audience members to toss water balloons at him that he enthusiastically swung at with a plastic baseball bat, further drenching himself of course. I haven’t seen a crowd so smiley and laughing in a long time.
Peelander Z were the hosts of the event and they put on a wacky stage show. I have called them a Japanese punk band for kids, but people of all ages were enjoying the show and singing along. Like Gwar or Kiss, this band really makes a show a fun costumed insane experience, even in the rain and with the limited stage constraints of the Grackle.
They are based in NYC but play Austin frequently enough it seems that most people here know them.
Ringo DEATHstar is an Austin band with a heavy sound. They kinda reminded me of Asobi Seksu.
Cold Heart of Space is an Austin band that plays loud punk music. I caught them in an indian fusion venue called the Whip-In. On their recordings, they recall a country Calvin Johnson. Their recording is VERY different from their live show.
“Music Band” from Nashville TN. It seems they maybe named themselves as a joke? ya think? “Still alive, like a rock and roll song about rock and roll!”
Roger Sellers is one of many one man band looping pedal experimenters like Holy F*ck. He played live drums, which sounded good over his tinkling arpeggios, but I’m getting kind of bored of this kind of music. Sure, I’d like to play it, but I am no longer excited about listening to others play it. My drawing, which I unfortunately was unable to give him, ended up cool because It blurred due to the interaction of the gel ink on the paper and ended up looking Ralph Steadmany.
Austin band “A Giant Dog” rocked hard at Peelander Fest at the Grackle. Good luck trying to Google them. Sabrina is a powerful frontman, and can really command a crowd.
At the Wonder Show at the Vortex theatre. Andrew Goldenhersh was truly phenomenal! Marcus Monroe was hilarious and juggled his own invention:Knife torches, or Knorches. Vinnie DePonto impressed us with several mentalist tricks (thats him on the left.) Sorry about the color on the photos… stage lighting.
Juan Martinez is known as the pain proof man, he is a blockhead and has many piercings and performs sideshow in Austin at the Museum of the Weird!
Beth Chrisman playing in Brennen Leigh’s gospel country band at STAY GOLD.
Kristen Ford, what a great performer! Awesome, touching songs, and she clearly has such a big heart and welcomes in her audience to have a great time with her.
Future Kings are a band from Kansas city!
And The Kids are a band from North Hampton, MA. They play beautiful math rock with fun lyrics. They were joined by Andrew from Mother Falcon. She played an electric Ukulele. Give their music a listen here. The Cheerful face on the drummer is quite wrong, she was frowning most of the show, so I had to draw her again.
Daniel Romano is a charming country boy from Ontario. On my drawing the last name is wrong because it was listed wrong on a flyer. His songs were gentle like the Cowboy Junkies. His slide player was excellent and provided just the right light touch.
The Shivas are amazing and totally gorge. Their music is groovy and retro, surfy and sloppy. Sometimes their vocalist reminds me of the Kinks. You can hear their music here.
I especially like “Stalking Legs” and “You Make me want to Die.” Their song “Big Mama Casio” is awesome! We should get them to play a show with Crushed Out! That would be a dream lineup! Or maybe they need a keyboard player…. hmmmm.
But Isaac, did you only go to shows in Austin? No! I also took a nature walk, went to the horror wax museum/comic shop SFANTHOR. I had a great time in the show room and bought an amazing reverb unit from Seth at ScreaminFX. Now my theremin will have a proper analog spring tank! The art in Flatstock was incredible, I wont post any photos out of respect to the artists. I also enjoyed some delicious creations from food carts! ZOW. There was an incredible Tom Yum Dirty Rice with chicken liver at a food cart on 6th. I also had some yummy bulgogi tacos with kim chee at the Grackle. I love AUSTIN! If you are on the fence about going to SXSW and think you can’t enjoy it without an expensive pass, GO!
There are many other journalists who are writing about SXSW, articles like this one indicate that for many working bands, its just another show. Nate Valdez says, “There are no clear answers to what a band should do. There’s a sense of respect and awe one can’t help but feel for someone who is blindly committing to their passion regardless of the outcome.” It is silly to think that a single show will cause you to “make it.” But SXSW is great exposure for people like me and to people like me. I sometimes put on small shows, last year I hosted shows with David Heti, the Doubleclicks and Cello Fury. I had them because I saw them and knew I had to share their talent with others. I saw David Heti at NXNW, and I saw Cello Fury at SXSW and that directly led to them coming to Alaska and playing for hundreds of happy people. Is SXSW worth it? As a fan, as a booker: definitely. For a band, possibly not. You may play to no one.