SXSW Music Festival - 2011 - Recap (LONG!)

Where do I begin? I think the most logical place is to start at South By Southwest 2010. We had just come off of almost a full year of touring  the U.S. on New Wave Blues. We had played the songs inside and out at nearly 200 shows since we released the album, and came into SXSW expecting nothing except that we could play our set blindfolded and hanging upside down at this point. SXSW 2010 was a huge success for us. Having the opportunity to perform for industry pros across the world and reuniting with friends we'd made around the country touring; you couldn't ask for a better time. Oh yeah, the free beer wasn't too shabby either.

Fast forward 1 full year later. We had spent the last 12 months writing & recording our new album. The timeline was so tight that we actually picked up our masters of the new album from our producer Patrick Krief in Austin,TX because he was in town with his band The Dears

Hello Austin! Waller St and 4th St. We're your new RV neighbors for 8 days

With a brand new arsenal of songs never performed live yet, we were back in Austin with the exact opposite situation we had last year. We knew everything to expect in terms of venues, parties, bands, friends, where to park the RV for a week, etc. but we had no idea how our new songs would go over, how the set would gel, etc. I think the uncertainty is a good thing though, it causes you to analyze and fine tune things, rather than just sticking with the status quo.

Coming off of a 30 hour drive from Toronoto, Ontario for Canadian Music Week, we rolled into Austin around 9pm on Sunday night. With a 10am load in time the next morning for our Balcony TV shoot we vowed to 'take it easy'. "We'll just stretch the legs around town for a bit and turn in by midnight". Riiiiight. So obviously that didn't work. Keith, Brent and I made it back to the RV around 3am and with Will getting separated, he took his debut voyage on the Austin bus system and turned in at a very "taking it easy" 6am. 

The Balcony TV setup is a single acoustic song performed on a rooftop over looking downtown Austin. 1 Song, minimal load in, should be an easy start to the week, even on two hours sleep; right? Well this would be true if we had thought about which song we were going to play and how we were going to arrange it acoustically. Maybe it was because we had the glockenspiel handy but for whatever reason we opted for a new tune called "Forever and Ever". After a quick run through on the glock, acoustics and percussion in the RV at 9am we were satisfied and began our walk to the gig. I think we pulled it off fine. Even Will said "I feel great, it's like I never went to bed".

Tuesday's gig was at 2pm so we had a little more sleeping time; but still ungodly early for musicians. The Deli Magazine invited us to play and felt great to plug in the instruments on a full stage again. Wednesday's show was at 10pm and we were beginning to feel like a real band again.

theWANDAS at Smoke and Sand showcase. SXSW 2011, Austin TX. Photo Credit: Ben Leang

Thursday we had the day off which worked out really well. There were so many shows we wanted to see and this gave us the ability to take in a ton of music and catch up with friends from Boston as well as friends from across the globe. 

Boston had a HUGE presence in Austin this year. There were so many good bands from Boston that when a band would announce "hey we're from Boston, MA" people in the audience would look at each other and say "Another awesome band from Boston!" or "all the best bands are from Boston". I must say it was a pretty proud moment to be part of that. I'm sure I'm forgetting several, but props to Boston's Stereo Telescope, Mean Creek, Louder My Dear, Bodega Girls, MD, Whiskey Project, Herra Terra, Keep Me Conscious, Kingsley Flood, and Girls Guns and Glory for putting on great sets and The Honors for being our partners in crime for the week. Our Chicago buds, Filligar tore it up and of course Montreal's The Dears never disappoint. 

Good Boston Buds: Mean Creek, killing it at 512, Austin TX

Friday we had an interesting day with 2 shows out of the downtown area and one that was 20 miles outside of Austin's center. We had no idea what to expect, but were pleasantly surprised. The show was located right on Lake Travis so we took in some sun, enjoyed a great meal with a great view.

The Dears at Purevolume House... I wonder if Brent is excited.

Saturday was the marathon day with 3 shows. The first at 1pm, the second at 8pm and the last at 12am. The last show was at Ginger Man. A great venue with and outdoor stage and huge beer selection. We couldn't have asked for a better finale to our SXSW trip. The venue was slammed all week with great bands and fans. To add to the fun, a ton of our Boston friends attended for one last hurrah. And if the night couldn't have gotten any more sentimental, a friend of our's proposed to his girlfriend on stage during our set. Talk about a night to remember.

Ahhh what a week. Feels like we were there for a month. Can't wait to go back.


P.S. we made it to Toronto, to Austin, to Boston without getting pulled over once! A new record for us.