Part of the fun of South by Southwest, the music festival and conference that takes place in Austin every year, is tucking your badge away and hitting some nonsanctioned showcases, where you can really see a regional advantage at play –– a sanctioned showcase by a mid-level national act not from the Southwest might not draw nearly as well as an unknown Southwestern act’s non-sanctioned showcase at a club right next door. Remember that band Augustana? Were a big deal for a minute back in the day? From the wilds of San Diego? Well, I saw them at a sanctioned showcase one early evening on 6th Street, the festival’s main drag, a couple of years ago, and I was one of only four people in attendance. Four. After a couple of songs, I disposed of my empty beer bottle, walked out, and made a right turn into a club where a Texas band was playing. The place was packed. Now I’ve had many similar experiences, including one last year when I left another empty sanctioned showcase on 6th for a nonsanctioned show on South Congress that was pretty hopping. Again, the bill featured a bunch of Texas bands, including Calhoun, Quaker City Night Hawks, and Air Review. The event had been co-organized by Dallas’ Bergen Management and Blackbox Presents, the latter a Fort Worth booking and management company that will be putting on another nonsanctioned showcase with Bergen this year at the same location, Doc’s Motorworks (1123 S. Congress Ave., 512-448-9181). Artists already confirmed to play the two-day event include The Phuss, Oil Boom, Lindby, Doug Funnie, Larry g(EE), and Tricounty Terror, all Texas acts. Blackbox’s Aaron Knight also said some national bands might be thrown into the mix, which will allow us to witness firsthand the Southwest regional advantage. Or not.
Another cool thing about South-by is the cross traffic. Out-of-region bands on their way to or from Austin can end up playing Fort Worth, and Fort Worth bands always use South-by as an excuse to insert themselves into the Austin action. A bunch of Fort Worth bands are planning to play nonsanctioned shows this year, including KatsüK, Year of the Bear, Mailman, Bitch Bricks, Animal Spirit, Lindby, D-Snacks with Big Cliff, and Cleanup. And Pinkish Black drummer Jon Teague recently told me his band will also be going down and might even play whatever showcase Pitchfork is cooking up –– the operatic-metal duo recently played a showcase in New York City for the tastemaking online publication that is not shy in its love of all things pinkish and black. And like last year, Fort Worth-based New Media Recordings will be throwing a major bash, one that producer and NMR founder James Talambas plans to record. If you love Fort Worth music and consider South-by an escape from all of the, uh, great people you run into every weekend at Lola’s, The Grotto, or The Where House, you may want to slow your roll. It’s like Little Fort Worth down there every year.
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