By Paul Stinson
It’s that time of year when Austin’s overpriced boutique bistros or ridiculous BBQ food lines are replaced by snaking corridors of humanity huddled outside of music clubs, makeshift venues and open spaces, celebrating -and testing the limits of- the sprawling hotel and convention center identity of the city. Oklahoma has earthquakes. Austin has conventions.
In the last year, Austin nearly lost two music venues to the seismic forces of higher rents, landlord greed and development run amok, only to be spared from the conversion of those spaces into something other than music.
The forces of perpetual cuisine, nail/skin care and dude bros. bars are fierce in this town, and they are gaining ground. It’s hard not worry about the future of music in Austin, Condo capital of the south, Dubai of the North, whichever.
The challenge of being heard above the fray in Austin under the best of circumstances is daunting. Blessed with a healthy menu of incubator clubs such as Beerland, Hotel Vegas and even the ABGB, in addition to Waterloo Records/End of an Ear, and the Austin Chronicle and KUTX, the infrastructure is there to nurture and catapult a band from up and comer to prizefighter. The at-capacity shows of the likes of A Giant Dog, Moving Panoramas and Sweet Spirit are a testimony to that.
2016’s installment of the NadaMucho.com SXSW Six Pack looks at a handful of bands that fit that bill and a few others in the earlier stages of development.
Like most relationships that are both nourishing and toxic, SXSW offers the opportunity for local gems to road-test their resonance in the from of a potentially larger and more interested crowd who may not have yet reached the point of taking outstanding music for granted simply because there’s so much of it here.
For better or worse, Austin doesn’t give a read or serve as much of an indicator of a band’s capacity to gain traction nationally one way or the other. And for a whirlwind of a week – as Brooklyn becomes a ghost town – what it means to be national or international will visit the capitol city, potentially rendering all of the local scene, save the over-hyped BBQ, all but invisible.
And isn’t that a pity, to borrow a phrase from George Harrison and/or Dean Wareham.
Ten to fifteen bands/performers in this town are capable of upstaging a big time touring national act -not out of spite, but sheer ability and a pursuit of a craft steeped in dedication and (often times) double-shifts in the city’s service industry.
Austin isn’t the only city that can make that claim. However, find me another visiting national music avalanche that buries more local talent than this one and I’ll agree to stand in line all day for food.
More SXSW Six Pack 2016
- Moving Panoramas
- US Weekly
- Interview: A Giant Dog
- Mirror Travel
- Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes
SXSW Six Pack 2015
SXSW Six Pack 2014