(The Rock and Roll Report was stoked when Montreal music publicist Asher from Asher Media Relations agreed to give us a taste of his recent first time foray to SXSW. Hopefully next year we will expand our coverage of this amazing booze-fueled, music soaked event!)
Seeing how this was my first SXSW, I wasn’t sure what to be prepared for, but I will say this, the amount of talent I saw was purely amazing. I spent 5 days and 5 nights checking out wicked amounts of music as I was at SXSW filming episodes for a tv show I work on for an artist I do pr with Empire ISIS.
When arriving in Austin be prepared for overcrowded streets and music blazing out every bar, street corner and outdoor stage that is setup in the downtown core. I spent some of my days walking around hitting various tents that offered free booze, food and cigarettes. I was quite overwhelmed everywhere I went.
In my opinion, SXSW is the Mecca of all Music conferences and festivals, where music enthusiasts, industry and artists gather for one week of enjoying music and networking 24/7.
And 24/7 it was for me, there wasn’t a night where I got back to the house where I was staying and it be 6am and I had to be up by 10am to start the day all over again. I ended up everywhere you can imagine, everything from the Canadian Blast to back stage access at the Fader Fort and Afro Punk showcase in the Austin Music Hall.
Where to start about my adventures, I’m not too sure, so let me mention what I saw, who I met and who impressed me. On one of the days , I ended up at the Canadian Blast mostly because of the free grub and I knew friends of mine would be there for sure. I have to say that Two Hour Traffic and The Arkells were awesome to watch while I was stuffing my face with food and began drinking a little early. Note to everyone! There is free booze everywhere and it can be dangerous in the hot Austin sun! A good amount of showcases I had scheduled of who I wanted to see never went as planned. I soon realized on my first day, nothing would work out because you go to one showcase and you stay there longer than planned because you make new friends and would listen to one great band after another. I sometimes felt I needed a twin to go everywhere else I couldn’t.
So during SXSW, I ended up to be at the right place at the right time as I was also down filming episodes for Empire ISIS’ tv show on Musique Plus , which helped in getting access to some great shows and artists. The list is long but just to round it up where I was and who I met this list sums a good amount.
One artist I bumped into was Lady Sovereign who is even smaller than me and if you ever knew me you know I’m a short guy but taller than guitarist Mikey of the Leather Arms Experiment. That one’s for you Mikey!
I have to say the top three places I ended up during my SXSW were mostly urban and electro music due to the priority of the tv show, but these were some happening places. The Levi’s Fader Fort was probably the best spot of all of SXSW even though it really wasn’t officially part of the festival. But I did have chance to check out Kanye West, Common, Jada Kiss, Kid Cudi, Janelle Monae. My next top spot was the Afro Punk showcase where I hung backstage and got to meet K’Naan who is a phenomenal and talented artist from Somalia and now calls Toronto his home. I also met fellow Canadian Colin Munroe who is mix of Indie Rock and Hip Hop Influence and was quite interesting to see. But the biggest artist of all was BIG BOI! Who most people know from OutKast rocked out a show that was just incredible. He’s a true artist that had an amazing kick ass rock band with him and I even got two feet away from legendary producer Quincy Jones, who was hanging backstage too. WOW!! The third top spot was the Valient Thorr show, this was just amazing and crazy, but what really impressed me was the band before them, Big Elf. I caught their last two songs and they blew me away with their old school rock influences and huge organs.
My honourable mentions go to the following other spots I hit while at SXSW. On my first night I stumbled into a bar called Troubadour where I saw this amazing jam band called Forrest Day. These guys were just so entertaining with a big band sound that they had the room dancing. Another honourable mention goes to the Live Lounge showcase which showcased rock talent from Ottawa and I ended up checking it out because I heard great things about the band St. Joe’s Mission and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed at all. These guys have put together a kick ass stage set and a lot of great rock n roll tunes with a variety of influences. I got a copy of their album and haven’t stopped listening to it, especially their song “The Reigns”. I just can’t stop listening to it!
Overall, the SXSW experience was well worth it and I’m looking forward to next year’s. From meeting industry to meeting artists this is have to be on the to do music industry list. I really enjoyed meeting artists and industry who were so genuine and serious about the music business. My favourite was probably Sam Roberts who was extremely relaxed and excited about his showcases when I met him for an interview for the tv show. One last thing I like to mention is that I noticed at SXSW that there were popularity contests going for showcases and parties. It’s all about who can bring the most people and most important people to their showcases and it ranged from the Perez Hilton party, which I attended and wasn’t too amazed by, to the Red Bull Party, which was so much fun, full of energy (maybe due to red bull) and full of great amount of artists performing.
I recommend to everyone to check out SXSW at least few times in their life. It’s well worth it!