SXSW Days 4 (Part 2) & 5

The sun is out, the humidity is high and the caffeine has kicked in! Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

Yesterday afternoon was fantastic, mostly because I got to catch four songs from Gary Clark, Jr. and see Shearwater again (caught their Metro Gallery show in late Feb). Gary Clark Jr. was laid back and sat while playing. His low brimmed hat may have hid tired eyes but his guitar playing was stellar. He finished with “Bright Lights” and left the audience wanting more. My only criticism is nothing more than a thank you was spoken from his mouth between songs. I’ll chalk that up to the “early” noon performance time.

Jonathan Meiburg and company brought loud, melodic songs with beautiful harmonies to the Convention Center Day Stage. The band played Side One from their new album “Animal Joy” (yes, vinyl) along with an older song. Jonathan shared a story from a previous night’s show in an unnamed location. It was “a totally wrong place for us to play” yet they soldiered through. I’m guessing that happens more than any of the festival attendees probably realize.

I caught a few songs from Ben Kweller before attending a terrific panel called “It Takes a Village to Break an Artist.” The big panel takeaway was that it isn’t one big break that puts a musician/band on the map. The break could come from a series of (likely) planned events such as industry partnerships or a mention from a respected musician that grabs the attention of a tour promoter. Networking (industry and non-industry) was emphasized as a way to help foster the small breaks that can lead to the big break.

Lots of Friday conversations on the convention center escalator/hallways centered on the star-studded private Bruce Springsteen show. Sadly, neither Cindy or me got picked to attend. However, here’s a link from the New York Times SXSW blog by venerable senior music critic Jon Pareles,

My night of music started with seeing Of Monsters and Men at Stubb’s. I was in the photo pit again, but this time it was far less crowded. I stayed for four songs, thankfully one of them was their single “Little Talks”. The band asked the audience to practice yelling “hey!” before they ripped into the song. I left happy and headed to Beauty Bar to catch Rubblebucket. I got my first disappointment of SXSW handed to me as the club was at full capacity and I was shut out. Plan B went into effect and I headed to Cedar Street Courtyard. The person I was supposed to meet (former WTMD DJ TK) never made it because his cell died and he couldn’t communicate. I saw three shows, ending with a blistering set from Rhett Miller and his solo project band.

Day 5
Today is centered around two invite only parties and a drink/catch up with TK. I’m anticipating a real zoo (more than usual) since 6th Street becomes one big frat party due to so many college students partying for St. Patrick’s Day. I’m grateful to be attending two private SXSW parties which should keep the insanity to a manageable level. Tonight’s shows: J Roddy Walston and The Business (9pm) and We Were Promised Jetpacks (11pm)

Gary Clark, Jr. at the Convention Center Day Stage

Shearwater at the Convention Center Day Stage

Of Monsters and Men at Stubb's

. Yes, there are Plan B shows for both time slots.

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