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My SXSW journal entries

Apr. 5, 2018
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Last week, I had the chance to visit my home state of Texas and attend the 2018 SXSW music festival. I got to grab a crew pass for Atlanta artist Demo Taped, who I shot for Adolescent last fall here and filmed his two showcases. I caught so many friends’ acts and discovered new music, all of which I’ve since added to my Spotify daily listening.

Day 1 - March 13

I arrived to pick up my pass for Demo Taped and got to catch him quickly at the Pandora showcase just before grabbing a juice from Austin’s Juiceland. The Pandora showcase included getting to use the green room backstage, where we were offered free drinks and massages. Just before Demo Taped performed, we watched Georgia artist Liza Anne. Later that night I stopped by to catch Anna Burch, and it was my first time ever seeing her perform (she actually gave me a little shout-out!). Then, we ran into YouTube music interviewer/hero Nardwaur. I actually starting to tear up when I saw him because I’ve grown up watching his videos online. We talked about our mutual favorite band, Sparks, and which albums were our favorites. I ended up seeing him again on the street a different night and felt like crying AGAIN!

Day 2 - March 14

I stopped by to visit local Austin artist Will Bryant’s art studio, which is a magical doodle palace. If you’re ever in town, I highly recommend reaching out to him for a studio visit! Afterwards I headed to visit my best friend who works at the vintage furniture store Room Service, which I also recommend if you’re ever in town. I then headed downtown and later met up with my friend Sean Solomon of Moaning and watched the New York band Crumb. Right after, I headed around the corner to catch Australian angel Mallrat and interview her. I was so excited to meet and see her live! Her set included her and her DJ Denim in what felt like a very private performance, with supportive fans in the front row singing along. After, I ran into singer Clairo who was there to catch Mallrat’s set and recently released her newest music video. 

Day 3 - March 15

In the early morning I was on a Mission: Impossible-style Uber ride to try to catch my friend’s band Moaning, who literally played three times a day every day at SXSW but I somehow kept missing all of their showcases! I made it on time and afterwards walked over to grab lunch at the nearby food trucks. Then, I walked a good 25 minutes to get some vegan ice cream from Yummi Joy, which happens to be next door to my favorite Austin shop, Toy Joy. Later on, I met up with Demo Taped and we caught the Cuco set which was packed with fans. I made it to the Polyvinyl Records showcase that night and caught Australian singer Hatchie (whom I originally encountered on YouTube) and Anna Burch again! Hatchie had an incredible set, and I wish I had gotten to meet her!

Day 4 - March 16

I woke up early, by which I mean noon, and saw Soccer Mommy live. They’re the cutest band ever and they’re from Nashville. The lead singer, Sophie, was giving her guitarist a back rub right before the show and and I chatted with them a bit before their set. From there, I got to catch the amazing Spanish band Hinds, who two of my friends had recommended to me. (They specifically told me to watch this video of theirs which is incredible!) I got to meet one of the singers, Ana, afterwards for a quick Polaroid. Then, I walked over to see Mallrat play again, this time at the sponsored M&M party. Mallrat had cute plastic rats around SXSW, and I captured a slo-mo butterfly on camera that blessed her during her “Uninvited” performance! After that, I walked a mile to my favorite Austin diner Hut’s for some catfish, which is honestly the most “me” thing I could do. I then walked over to the Alice Phoebe Lou show, which I got to really early because of how badly I wanted to see her. After her set, she handed out a stack of 35 mm photographs she had taken. The one I grabbed was dated as Berlin, 2016 and depicted a woman and a child. Last but not least, I was assigned to film Demo Taped’s last show which was set to go on at 1 A.M.! The crowd was the biggest and most energetic of any show I witnessed during SXSW, and he even got an encore.

Being on stage and getting to see so many friends made it one of the best South By’s I’ve attended, and I highly recommend going and getting a music pass. It also helps that I happen to be from Texas and had a friend’s guest room to crash in, but here are some little tips that might help you: 

  1. Go with the flow! SXSW is crazy and things change; shows get packed and moved and cancelled, so try to not be set on plans. Learn to just go with the chaos!
  2. Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. You are going to walk a lot. A LOT. Everyone kept comparing how many steps they had taken each day. (My highest was 17,366 steps.)
  3. Take a breather. I walked to Yummi Joy because it was farther south and I could have a quiet moment to myself.
  4. Bring a portable phone charger! Or two. 
  5. If you’re into taking photos, stock up on film, charge your batteries, and don’t feel shy about approaching bands or pushing your way to the front to get a good shot!