Tag Archives: SXSW

SXSW 2013: One Year Later (Better Late Than Never)

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In light of the horrible tragedy that took place in Austin on March 13, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the victims and their families. We hope everyone at SXSW stays safe.

by Vasilis

One year ago, I experienced one of the most unforgettable weeks of my life. On March 13, 2013, I flew down to Austin to work the music portion of the two-week long festival as a project coordinator for Royal Media Group. When I was told that I would be heading down to Austin, I was as excited as I was anxious, as it had been seven years since I flew anywhere and my first time traveling solo. Still, it was an offer no person could say ‘no’ to.

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My boss flew me down to San Antonio on Wednesday and rented a car for me to make the 90-minute trip to Austin. Though it was terrifying driving so far by myself in a state I had never been, it was also exhilarating and let me take in the scenery. I only had half hour to settle into the rented house before making my way into the heart of the city. As someone who lives in New York and has seen Times Square at its busiest, I can say that Austin during SXSW is unrivaled in its complete chaos. While I expected a big crowd and had heard stories about the famed 6th Street, I was still overwhelmed. The streets were littered with bar-hopping millennials, music journalists, amateur musicians, promoters, and event fliers leading people to where they needed to go. Though most people probably picture Texas as an ultra-conservative Bible-thumping state, the very-liberal Austin felt more like a warmer Williamsburg. You couldn’t take a step without your ears being filled with music; to put it lightly, it is every music lover’s dream.

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My company was stationed in a rustic venue called Swan Dive on 615 Red River Street, right off 6th Street. Though old and worn down, it had its own charm and glowed with a rich past full of famed performers and shows. Our company was working with a Canada-based company called Planet Quebec (who are focused on promoting talent from Quebec), which was an odd endeavor that presented a nice challenge and allowed me to meet some interesting people and observe some unique talent. Wednesday and Thursday were primarily spent on promoting the acts and working the shows. On Thursday morning, I was able to overcome a mishap with my alarm that forced me to wake up late and attended a meeting filled with some of our company’s artists and Pandora executives. I was able to learn a lot, eat some great Texan food, and get take in a beautiful Austin view from their office. Throughout the week, the work kept on coming but it was extremely rewarding and in many ways did not feel like work. Though there were ups and downs, many of the events the company put on (including one showcasing Cirque Du Soleil) were well attended and well covered.

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Luckily, it was not all work and no play. I made sure to highlight every artist I wanted to see along with their set times and locations, and made a point to catch as many artists as the Lone Star State had to offer. I was able to catch Pentimento, who were coincidentally playing an 11pm set Wednesday night in the patio right behind Swan Dive (as part of the Weapons of Mass Creation Showcase). This was only my second time seeing Pentimento perform but reaffirmed that they are a can’t-miss, high-energy live act. One of my favorite sets of the festival happened on Friday night, when I saw Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls play a set at 12:50am at Blackheart Bar and Grill. After completing a long day of work, I sprinted down to the bar – which was far off from the heart of the festival – to catch the always incredible Frank Turner. Blackheart is a small bar with a spacious backyard patio that created a brilliant setting to watch the show. Frank looked like he could not be having more fun as he drunkenly played through a 13-song set and playfully bantered with the crowd in between songs.

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On Saturday, the big Alternative Press day-long showcase at the radiant Red 7 venue was the highlight of my trip. Featuring both an indoor and outdoor stage, I was able to fit in Pentimento, Air Dubai, What’s Eating Gilbert, Allison Weiss, and headliner Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls. Though this set was a lot earlier (he performed at 6pm), the crowd was equal to the task of the previous night’s performance; Frank made sure to switch up the setlist and the crowd danced, swayed, partied, and sang along. After my final day of work, I finished off the Frank Turner trifecta at Cedar Street Courtyard, where he performed alongside The Revival Tour. Although I missed Chuck Regan and Jenny Owen Youngs, I made it in time to catch Matt Pryor (The Get Up Kids) play some classics like “Close to Home” and “I’ll Catch You” and Chris Carraba (Dashboard Confessional, Twin Forks) perform Dashboard anthem “Hands Down”. Frank’s final set offered a different spin as he took the stage minus the Sleeping Souls and played a handful of his hits along with covers from artists ranging from Blink-182 to Bruce Springsteen. For the final song, the entire Revival Tour joined Frank onstage and closed out SXSW in a glorious fashion, capping off my unbelievable week.

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As I look back one year later, I cannot begin to say how lucky I was to be able to participate and take in the sights and sounds of SXSW. It is truly one of the most remarkable festivals in the world and gives fans the opportunity to experience so many talented individuals in so many different fields in such a short amount of time. I would highly encourage everyone to attempt to make the trip down at least once in their lifetimes. With the proper preparations, research, and performances, you could be creating memories that will last a lifetime.

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Ten Photos That Defined my 2013 Concert Experience

by Vasilis

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Shone @ Mercury Lounge (New York, NY), Februrary 7 – After a perfectly orchestrated social media campaign that led to the most commented thread in Absolutepunk.net history, the Shone mystery was finally revealed. Once the shock and mystery wore off, the band, made up of members of Long Island staples Brand New and Robbers, played their first show at Mercury Lounge. Like the social media campaign, the evening was strange, memorable and a little terrifying, with animal sounds, face paint, and spooky music accompanying the newly-formed band.

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Frank Turner @ Blackheart Bar (Austin, TX), SXSW 2013, March 15 – The defining moment of my life as a music fan was getting to work and attend SXSW this year. On Friday night, I ran to catch Frank Turner’s 1am set following a long work day, and it was well worth it. I would end up seeing Frank 3 times during the last 24 hours of the incredible SXSW 2013 festival.

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Green Day @ The Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY), April 7 – Green Day is my favorite band their live show is unmatched. When I was lucky enough to score 2 general admission spots to their headlining show I knew it would be a night to remember. As always, the performance the band put on was nothing short of perfect and is one of the best shows I went to all year.

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Fall Out Boy @ Terminal 5 (New York, NY), May 29 – One of the biggest music stories of 2013 for me was the reemergence of Fall Out Boy. Following their four-year hiatus, the pop/rock group recorded their new album and planned an entire tour without any news leaking. The album was a huge success, and their small-market headlining tour sold out instantly. Their New York set showcased their improved live act while demonstrating their high level of energy and fun.

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Mumford & Sons @ Forest Hills Stadium (Queens, NY), August 28 – Having the opportunity to see a band I really like perform on my home borough of Queens, New York was easily one of the coolest concert experiences I’ve ever had. Between some annoying crowd members and flaws in the stadium’s design, the show definitely had downsides; however, that did not stop this from being an extremely enjoyable concert by an incredible live band 10 minutes from my home.

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Yellowcard @ Irving Plaza (New York, NY), September 9, 2013 – Yellowcard put a fun twist on the 10-year craze, instead releasing an acoustic rendition of their classic decade-old Ocean Avenue and performing an acoustic tour. The experience, equipped with a full electric encore of their hits, was beautifully nostalgic and reminded me of how much this band means to me.

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The Front Bottoms @ The Music Hall of Williamsburg (Brooklyn, NY), November 13 – Not many bands can take a tour in which they’re the supporting act and make it their own. The Front Bottoms did just that while opening for Manchester Orchestra. The quirky New Jersey indie-dance-punk band worked the crowd into a frenzy with the help of their infectious music and their wacky arm-waving friends, who made an appearance during the catchy tune “The Beers”.

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Streetlight Manifesto @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ), November 16 – I said everything I need to say about the band that made me fall in love with live music on my farewell post to them. Still, this picture remains one of the most memorable I have ever taken from their last show in NJ and serves as a fitting farewell (or “see you later”) for the Jersey ska-punk band.

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The Wonder Years @ 89 North (Patchogue, NY), December 15 – Realist pop-punk band The Wonder Years have been growing at a rapid pace over the years and are now headlining 1000-2000 cap venues. This made their holiday-themed acoustic tour, which closed out its four-show run on Long Island, even more special. Playing in front of 450 people (the show sold out in mere hours), the band threw in some amazing surprise cuts in their set. The venue was decorated with trees and snowflakes and fans dressed up in ugly Christmas sweaters to receive free cookies and hot chocolate. As far as holiday acoustic shows go, this one was incredibly fun night.

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Brand New @ The Paramount (Huntington, NY), December 20 – Though show should go down as one of the best I have ever seen, it’s the issues around it that may define it. The band announced small-venue discography shows where they would play their four albums, resulting in scalping issues when tickets sold out in seconds. At the Long Island hometown show, when fans expect earlier classic records Your Favorite Weapon and Deja Entendu, the band threw a curveball and played their latter two (incredibly stellar) records, much to some people’s disappointment. When Daisy was played instead of Deja Entendu, some booed and even walked out, taking to social media to voice displeasure. Being cryptic and unpredictable has always led to Brand New being placed on a sort of pedestal and examined closely through a microscope, but the performance was still breath-taking and their experience of seeing those records was perfect.

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