I’ve come to accept that traveling to Austin for South By Southwest is typically a very productive experience for me that it takes tremendous effort to enjoy. Performing on substandard sound systems, not finding out my time slot until the very last minute, playing in empty rooms, and show cancellations are par for the course. Major shout to the homie Cabrini Green for putting me up at his casa, without which I could never have afforded to make the trip. Also massive shout to Xandali for plugging me into gigs.
Going to South By, as everyone calls it, makes one hyper-aware of one’s “status” as an artist in relation to other artists. I was left this year with the feeling that I won’t really enjoy SXSW until I’m in a majorly upper echelon of artists. As the event has become increasingly corporate (giant Dorito’s stage in the middle of Austin anyone?) the only performers who seem to get paid are those with massive social media presences due to their value to brands. This deserves its own blog entry, which I will find time to pen soon. Long story short: I hate that this has become more important than music itself, but feel forced to play the game because I want a career as a musician more than anything in the world. While it turns my stomach to have to do it, I am more determined than ever to get “bigger” so that I can achieve the goals that matter to me. Maybe next year I’ll get booked for the Halliburton / Lockheed Martin showcase and they can pay me to make political comments that incite a war against Australia.
I decided to arrive this year at the end of Tech Week to make some new connections outside the music industry. While this was a great idea, I didn’t think through the fact that in Tech World my endeavors are meaningless, and thus I had very little access to get into any of the parties. Arriving Sunday in time for my first of 5 confirmed gigs, I made my way downtown in the evening and got to briefly link up with Sam Salisbury aka Baldman Sam, one of my favorite peeps in the world. In typical Sam style he was in the middle of a meeting with some massive innovators, so I moved along fairly quickly. I headed out on the town and couldn’t get into the Path event. I was happy however to run into the Everest crew, who had sponsored the spectacular mansion party that I performed at during Sundance. It was great to reconnect with those guys, as I believe in what they are doing very much – effectuating people’s focus on making their dreams a reality. I got a text message 30 minutes before my dj set was scheduled that the venue was dead and I wouldn’t be needed that night. Hey at least I got my name on a chalkboard. South By 1, Sharp 0.
Concluded that it wasn’t worth bothering with standing outside of events that I didn’t have access to, so spent most of the day on my laptop hammering out some work. I then headed to Empire for what turned out to be the most productive gig of the week: the Huffington Post Gets Weird / NASA party.
I got there before 10 in time for the headliners, French Horn Rebellion. I’ve dug their music since I got the promo of one of their first releases, and it was rad to see them live.
A great set was played, and I had the pleasure of meeting their guest singer Effie aka Bebe Panthere: talent & great style all in one.
I was thrilled to learn that 2 of my best friends from SF were in the house: All Of It Now was doing visuals and my vegan homegirl Selena Scola from Streetwise Social / Vegan Kitchen TV was documenting. Here I am with Selena and Xander aka Xandali.
FHR was followed by DJ Axis Powers, who played a DJ set with a live drummer. I felt this was a weird progression to move from funky indie dance tunes to mainstream hip hop. Some of the crowd stuck around and grooved, but when Rioux went on next with his psychedelic electronic tunes everybody bounced – shame, because his tunes were sophisticated and well-composed. By the time my set started at 1 AM the only people left at the venue were the staff and sponsors, whom I thankfully managed to get dancing. I did my best but felt like I played like shit, owing to the lack of energy in the room. You can imagine my surprise 2 days later when a Huffington Post article about the gig gave me a great mention. South By 1, Sharp 1.
At the end of the gig Sean Glass rolled up to grab DJ equipment for an after-party he was spinning at. (Sean is to my right in this pic.)
I’d been introduced to Sean via email before so it was nice to finally put a face to the name. Decided to tag along to the after-party and caught a really fun, eclectic set from Mr. Glass that took us til 5 AM. Went back to Chez Cabrini and crashed.
Stay tuned, further reports & video stuff to come.