Each March, Austin, Texas becomes the focus of the world’s music industry, as SOUTH BY SOUTH WEST takes over the city’s venues, bars, BBQ huts and car parks. Thousands of people descend on the famously alternative city for the festival’s world-renowned, emerging technology-focused conference programme, and a glut of gigs from famous and hopeful bands, wedged into any space which can fit an audience. This year, as well as playing host to Barack Obama’s interactive keynote address, SXSW welcomed three Liverpool bands – SUGARMEN, STEALING SHEEP and HOOTON TENNIS CLUB – who took cameras with them to document their trip. Here are their conclusions.
“We got to go halfway across the globe to see and experience a culture that’s really familiar but also completely different. We stayed in the suburbs and it’s sort of like being in Clerks, hanging outside a one stop shop or a 7/11 – and then you realise people actually live here and you’re not on a film set or in a Green Day video. The Talking Heads song Nothing But Flowers makes more sense to me now, too. We also got to play to some pretty reasonably big American audiences (considering it was our first time), who were great!”
“This picture was actually taken at a tex mex place called El Sapo a few days after their showcase, but it was Heavenly all the same! Half the Heavenly gang were there and playing -I never got up but Chris Taylor got on stage and played tambourine!”
HOOTON TENNIS CLUB
“It’s an absolutely huge festival and you shouldn’t expect to see everything you want to, you just have to go with the flow. We got a lot out of going, as you may have notice in these pictures: we went swimming; ate loads of great food (Terry Black’s BBQ); Callum and Ryan went kayaking on the Colorado river; we saw Thee Oh Sees (twice!) and Ryan crowd surfed (which he couldn’t do when he saw them at The Kazimier because he was ill); we spotted Elijah Wood crate digging in a great record store called End Of An Ear… But it all blurs into one big mush, especially on 6th Street. It’s a free-for-all! You can stand in one spot on that street and hear up to six different bands playing at one time.”
“Austin is massive! The roads are gigantic, the cars are bigger, the food comes in bigger portions, the buildings are really… big. But that’s just major American cities for you.”
“The city looked incredible from our kayaks. We kept stopping and saying ‘what are we doing kayaking in fucking Texas!?’ Kayaking in Texas felt too strange to be true.”
“We met loads of amazing people in Austin – we got the chance to see the city and the Colorado river with lots of wildlife. We also drank lots of coffee and margaritas! The shows we did were great fun, and we were really well received out there. We also played one show inside a giant white cube with people observing us from the outside… this was quite strange as you sort of forgot they were there until you were just chatting away and they could all hear our personal goings on of the day! Basically, we had the best time ever, mainly down to all the people we met and the music we saw!”