Locally Amped returned from the 2013 iteration of Austin, TX's South by Southwest last Monday. We hit the town hoping to hear some great music, enjoy the warm weather and the free libations — and came back with a better understanding of the music landscape in 2013.
The week-long festival morphs the city of Austin into music-lovers paradise, filling nearly every bar and event space with thousands of bands from across the nation looking for some luck. While Prince, Justin Timberlake and Willie Nelson performed, SXSW still hosts a unique atmosphere of up-and-coming bands, and a great party for the music industry.
Here are some things we saw, loved and hated during the week.
1.) With the promise of hundreds of up-and-coming bands, free booze, and lots of opportunity to make connections, music journalists of all sorts -- from Rolling Stone editors to amateur bloggers -- are definitely a common sight during the fest. We bumped cameras with writers and photographers of all sorts, including one college girl who convinced us to get her into the photo pit.
2.) Crowds and lines are the norm, not the exception. Sixth Street, the downtown bar and nightlife district, is packed from noon to 3 A.M. every night with showgoers looking for their next destination. On Tuesday night, while waiting in an hour-long line to see Spoon's new project, The Divine Fits and punk rockers Japandroids, there was an upside to the wait: we got to chat with other music lovers from across the country.
3.) Once entering a venue, the massive, music-loving crowds become your friends. Here's a picture of the crowd from Saturday afternoon's FADER Fort crowd dancing along to a surprise encore set from rappers French Montana, Macklemore, Earl Sweatshirt and Diddy.
4.) During a set from British rock act Leogun at a laid-back Thursday afternoon session hosted by Blackberry House, some brightly colored college kids began dancing in the front of the stage. Set to a backdrop of industry folk hanging with drinks in the late afternoon sun, it was a breath of fresh air to see people appreciating their tunes.
5.) Amidst literally thousands of bands playing shows during the week, it's difficult to stand out. NJ-based The Ugly Club hit the streets of Austin in between their four SXSW shows with their polished indie rock. Their persistent work ethic during the festival paid off, as they even got a shout out from NPR.
Other highlights included dreamy chamber pop from The Last Bison, hard-hitting R&B vocals from Autre Ne Veut and one of the first US appearances from Scottish electropop act Chvrches. A week later, it's difficult to comprehend the fact that we caught over 25 acts over four sun-drenched, sleep-deprived days. But, we're definitely ready to take it on again next year.