South by Wisconsin Debuts at SXSW 2011
We need more Wisconsin music in Austin, Texas! The first annual SXWI day party commenced in Austin on St. Patrick’s day during the South by Southwest music festival. Fueled by a collective of Wisconsin musicians, bloggers, promoters and creatives the event showcased the state’s progressive culture and music. In addition, a complimentary flow of Wisconsin microbrew and mouth watering brats kept the crowd’s energy level intact.
All Tiny Creatures
If you’ve never been to Austin, Texas for South by Southwest, all you need to know is that it’s the biggest independent music festival in the country. Thousands of bands descend on Austin every March for five days of music, parties, conference sessions and the opportunity to become one of the break-out buzz artists that emerge from the festival every year. Some 200 venues in the Austin area play host to this flood of music that can only be described as mind-boggling.
We arrived on Tuesday to scope out the venue for our day party at Rainey Manor located downtown in the burgeoning Rainey Street neighborhood populated with historic homes some that have been converted into ultra cool music clubs. By recommendation of a blogger friend our Austin connection had secured the festival license and would provide the sound for our day party.
Not knowing the area, we walk from our 4th street hotel and stumbled upon Lustre Pearl, one of the aforementioned hipster music clubs that has been transformed into a unique performing space, complete with a covered outdoor stage and gated entrance. Our space will be one of the temporary pop-up venues that emerge during the festival. It’s located in a large driveway down the alley behind Lustre Pearl. We huddle with our Austin hosts who give us the low down on stage and sound specifics. Satisfied with the SXWI day party logistics, we decide to christen our Austin experience with a couple of Lone Star beers.
Day of the show
The SXWI showcase ran from noon to 8pm on the hottest day we’ve experienced since late summer of last year. The Wisconsin microbrew (Spotted Cow, Sprecher Amber and Hopalicious) flowed freely and the brats were grilled to perfection by yours truly. Now, that the stage was set, it’s time for some music! Madison’s P.C. Allen started the proceedings with an acoustic set that set the tone for the early afternoon sessions.
Corcavado dazzled the crowd with an unamplified set that highlighted their sweet vocal harmonies and introspective lyrics. The band received an offer for a gig in the Milwaukee area right after completion of their set. Pioneer took the stage with a soothing guitar/Cello duet that made the warm Texas afternoon breeze that much more pleasurable . Sheboygan’s Cedarwell picked up the pace with a two piece ensemble of guitar and percussion that drove the afternoon crowd into a SXWI high that didn’t let up.
A check on party attendees from around the country include revelers from Massachusetts, New York, California, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Oregon and a host of new friends from Austin. ShaneShane, Brett Newski, Amy Musser and Subvocal contributed to the laid-back Texas state of mind as the music continued to flow freely from the stage.
Milwaukee’s Group of the Altos included an expanding line-up that dwarfed the SXWI stage with some of the members playing on the ground in front of the wooden risers. The band generated an eclectic funky mix of what they call post-modern orchestra that included guitars, drums, cello, violin and keyboards that kept your feet moving.
The mood was set for Madison’s synth-laden electronic maestros All Tiny Creatures who featured material from their new album Harbors (on Hometapes records) due for release on March 29th. Group leader/keyboardist Tom Wincek, bassist Ben Derickson, drummer Matthew Skemp and guitarist Andrew Fitzpatrick have weaved a textured ambient sound punctuated with pulsating rythyms. The new album features guest vocalists, including Justin Vernon from Bon Iver. Wincek and Skemp are also in Justin Vernon’s side project Volcano Choir. Gems like “Glass Bubbles” and "An Iris” from the new album propel the SXWI audience into a crescendo that fittingly caps the days activities as the early evening sun begins to set on the Texas horizon.
It’s been beautiful! An end to the first South by Wisconsin, as the empty kegs and smoldering grill leaves multitudes of satisfied indie music fans all gathered in Austin to celebrate great music and all things that are Wisconsin! We are already planning next year's event. Contact us if you would like to participate.
Group of the Altos