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SXSW: The lows and highs of putting on a showcase

Categories: SXSW
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Photo by Leah Haselhorst

By Conrad Schoenleber

During SXSW, Austin has a specific kind of gravity. Each year, huge masses of people are drawn to the Texas capital to seek out the best of what new music has to offer. I was pulled down south once again in 2013 as an event planner.

With my production team at Hydrive Shows, I helped produce our second annual Drive the Noize showcase with Chicago-based CrowdNoize. The event showcase -- featuring Chance the Rapper, a few Wiz Khalifa's Taylor Gang associates, Branchez, Sweater Beats, Minneapolis's own the Chalice (pictured above), and Willy Joy -- was held at Karma Lounge on Thursday, March 14. Here's a personal, behind-the-scenes account of what running a SXSW showcase is like -- delays, disputes, and all the good stuff too.

See Also:
Here's what you're actually missing at SXSW
SXSW 2013: A handy Minnesota music guide
The 50 Commandments of SXSW

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The five biggest sellouts at SXSW

Categories: SXSW

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Seriously, you're not getting into the Fader Fort. Photo by Marco Torres
SXSW is not a music festival so much as it is an experiment in excess. If Coachella is a glass of water that keeps getting bigger until it more resembles a kiddie pool, then SXSW is a flood with a neglected cup somewhere in the middle. The natural result is rampant crowds and ever more rampant lame behavior amidst all the genuinely spectacular musical offerings. In honor of the world's most bloated city this week, we present the five biggest sellouts at SXSW.

See Also:
Here's what you're actually missing at SXSW
Prince will perform at SXSW, says Samsung
SXSW 2013: A handy Minnesota music guide

More »

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sellouts, SXSW

Here's what you're actually missing at SXSW

Categories: SXSW
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Photos by Craig Hlavaty
Well, you actually are missing really good pizza.
Awwwww, I know it is a shame you aren't here with us at SXSW in Austin. I can only imagine the aching and longing in your heart for walking aimlessly and standing in long lines for no reason, and sweating through your cardigan to see a band you heard on one of the Twilight soundtracks.

You don't want to be here. Turn around, go back home. Go see a movie. Go see that new Oz movie, it looks kinda cool. Take advantage of all the empty bars. Save your money and sleep in your own bed.

Here is what you could expect here in Austin. Take this all as a warning, folks. It's like the last days before the fall of Saigon here, except for all the free Doritos and vodka.

See Also:
Prince will perform at SXSW, says Samsung
SXSW 2013: A handy Minnesota music guide
The 50 Commandments of SXSW


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The 50 Commandments of SXSW

Categories: SXSW

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For Christ's sake, don't break any of these commandments this year.
You're going to South by Southwest, right? Or you're already there? One of those things is bound to be true. Well, our sibling paper pals at Dallas Observer have got some advice for you, and managed to format it all into the style of commandments, because one of their favorite things to do is pretend they're angry Gods. Or something like that.

So, here they are, the 50 Commandments of SXSW 2013.

See Also:
Prince will perform at SXSW, says Samsung
SXSW 2013: A handy Minnesota music guide

More »

Prince will perform at SXSW, says Samsung

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Prince performing "Bambi" on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Earlier this week, reports of noted guitar-smasher Prince finally crossing over to a national audience via a South by Southwest showcase started making the rounds. Tastemakers all over the country are finally going to understand what we've been blabbing about all these years! Okay, we kid.

In the new-fangled, corporate environment of exclusive parties with bold-face headliners at SXSW -- one which our colleague Andrea Swensson decided to skip this year -- it still comes as a mild surprise that Prince is indeed taking his rig to Austin. And, fortunately, the good people at Mashable can report the news in a fashion that reflects the climate.

See Also:
Prince performs 'Screwdriver' and 'Bambi' on Jimmy Fallon's fourth anniversary show
Princess: We've been obsessed with Prince for over 30 years
Prince's "Surprise" at Dakota Jazz Club, 1/18/13

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Howler and the art of mouthing off

Categories: SXSW
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Photo by Ian Witlen
Say what you will about Howler, but they can probably say it better. For all of the local criticism the Minneapolis surf-garage act has received for not paying their dues or being too forthright, none of it seems to focus on their abilities as a live act. After personally experiencing them for the first time last week in Austin, it's easy to see why.

Howler performed with messy aplomb to a crowd at Bar 96 in the midst of excessive product placement by a major purveyor of canvas sneakers. Whenever they weren't striking mod poses and swishing their carefully cropped locks about, the guys -- especially singer Jordan Gatesmith and bassist France Camp -- were unloading a barrage of amusing banter.

Early on, Gatesmith admonished the crowd: "I'm not saying we're god-sends, but more people should come over to the stage. This is a music festival. You can go and get drunk at the bar any time." Then, he added as an aside, " We fucking suck, so whatever."

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First Avenue's Sonia Grover: A day in the SXSW life

Categories: SXSW
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Photo by Ben Clark
You'd be hard-pressed to keep up with Sonia Grover this past Friday afternoon during SXSW. As the line outside the door of the First Avenue day party -- held this year at the Swan Dive in downtown Austin, and co-curated by Gimme Noise and the Current -- grows ever longer, the crowd inside ever larger, the people coming through the door aren't just there to see artists like Trampled by Turtles, Brother Ali, or Night Moves. They're there to see Grover, too.

Grover, the booker at First Avenue, is one of the key players in making the party a reality. She has big, black, curly hair and a bright, ever-present smile that doesn't seem to get any more forced even as she becomes noticeably tired from all the attention.

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SXSW 2012: A conversation with Peter Pisano and Chris Koza

Categories: Interview, SXSW
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Youa Vang
Peter Pisano and Chris Koza
The appreciation for SXSW usually doesn't happen until the festival is over and done with, but Peter Pisano of Peter Wolf Crier and Chris Koza of Rogue Valley were able to find some time to reflect and acknowledge on the poignancy of an event that happens once a year connecting so many people.

Gimme Noise had the privilege of being a fly on the wall when two of the most talented and humble artists to come out of the Twin Cities sat down to talk during a quiet moment at SXSW in Austin, TX.

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SXSW 2012's six worst moments, brought to you by #DEWeezy

Categories: SXSW
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Photo by Marco Torres
Don't dew it.
The last few days, Village Voice Media's indefatigable music staff has been regaling you with stories of the best from SXSW 2012. In the midst of these discoveries, we've been culling another list: the worst shit. The acts that ranged from huge bore-fests to downright lame. Below, you'll find our critics' submissions. Let us know if you have similar experiences.More »

The Best of SXSW Music: Saturday 3/17/2012

Categories: SXSW

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Nick Rallo
Justin Townes Earle at Stubb's BBQ
So, we come to it: the end of all things. Four days of madness, Doritos, Skrillex and finally, St. Patrick's Day. Before we bid SXSW 2012 farewell, allow us to share our favorite moments from SXSW day four. Later, we'll let you know which shows weren't so hot. Find our favorites below, and if there was a show that blew your hair back--let us know in the comments. To quote Raymond Chandler: "I went to brush something off my cheek, and it was the floor."

Grupo Fantasma - The Stage on Sixth
Anytime Grupo Fantasma plays, one has to fight the feeling that this might be the best band in the world, or at least the most fun. On Saturday the Grammy-winning Austin Latin funk-rock ensemble crammed nine musicians onto a small stage under a backyard tent, and put on the kind of party-rocking perfomance that can only be achieved with Latin rhythms, a three-piece horn section, and some seriously whammy'd-out guitar solos. Yes, the lyrics are in Spanish. But this group's endless energy and sunglassed cool spoke more than words ever could. When Grupo Fantasma plays, casual observers become blissed-out converts, and even the older ladies in the crowd get up to shake it. Having seen them twice now - both times in front of hometown crowds - I've learned to never underestimate this group's powers of seduction. The only thing this writer doesn't understand is why Grupo Fantasma isn't better known. -- Ian S. Port


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