“SXSW is insanity … Everything I love and hate about the music industry” ~ Kev Choice
Words by Kev Choice
This year I got to experience the craziness of SXSW in Austin, TX as a keyboardist with The Coup. We were scheduled for 6 shows in a 4 day span. The highlights of the shows were a taping of Last Call with Carson Daly’s SXSW Showcase, opening for Talib Kweli and Dead Prez at the Ankh Marketing & Dead Prez Showcase; and March Into Softness 2013 presented by The A.V. Club and Flowerbooking. I also jumped on a gig with Martin Luther playing key bass!
Besides performing, the benefit of being at SXSW is being able to catch other incredible bands and artist. Some of the best shows I was able to get a glimpse of were Haitus Kaiyote, Joey Bada$$, and The Pharcyde. I spent a couple hours at The Fader Fort – always one of the biggest attractions at SXSW — and caught a crazy afternoon of music and surprise guests. Texas artist Trae The Truth was joined onstage by T.I., B.O.B., and a host of others from The Grand Hustle team. Atlanta rapper Future then randown a set of his hits before the night was closed out by rock group Afghan Wigs. I heard Usher was in the building and that was confirmed as he jumped up with Afghan Wigs and did a 3 song set in a mash-up style with the live band. To the crowds delight, he came back on and performned 2 songs a cappella for an encore. It was a pretty dope performance. I didn’t get to make it to the Prince show, which everybody was trying to get into, but they only issued 300 tickets for the exclusive performance.
This by far was the biggest SXSW ever and from the last time I had been about 4-5 years ago, it has grown exponentially. It seems the last time I went there were more artist and bands roaming the streets and mingling, this time it seemed to be just regular people roaming the streets, bar hopping, not really all that concerned on the hot up and coming bands performing around town. The socializing and partying aspect of SXSW seemed to have grown, but it may be drowning out the music aspect of it. It seemed over saturated. There are still a lot of jewels and dope music around town, you just have to search harder and deeper to find it. A lot of performances were announced last minute as some groups just show up and jump on whatever showcase or stage they can get on. Another thing I noticed is how the corporate sponsors pretty much dominate the big showcases. People didn’t seem to mind going to see their favorite band presented by Doritos per se, plus it means they may get Free stuff!
Overall, SXSW was still a blast, and next year the plan is to go with and rock as many shows as possible and see as many bands as possible!
[Updated on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 6:50 p.m.]