I woke up in a new Bugatti (and by “Bugatti,” I mean a hotel room in southeast Austin) without a plan. I headed downtown, and I hoped that I would cross paths with something interesting.
Once downtown, a friend and I made our way to the Floodfest day party—I’m not sure why, because the show’s artists didn’t excite me. After spending a firm five minutes there, we hiked over to the Waterloo Records show, which was about a mile walk. We got there and I realized I had already seen most of the people on the lineup in the past. I grew frustrated with myself because I’d tried to take on the day without a plan, but then I realized that I don’t need to be at the best show with the best lineup at all times; SXSW is more about music discovery than anything.
Photographer Bridget Bennett is sharing photos and stories from her first-ever SXSW experience. Watch for more updates from Bridget this week and weekend, and listen to The Current on Friday from noon to 6:00 p.m. for a live broadcast of the Public Radio Day Stage concert at SXSW.
While we savored free tacos, another friend coaxed me into taking a 20-minute bus ride to Spider House—a venue that’s a bit north of downtown—for the Weinerama show by Weiner Records, a subsidiary of Burger Records. The venue had three stages—two outdoor and one indoor—and it was my favorite I have seen yet. I stuck around for a few hours.
Burger Records has a bit of a cult following, and the members of its cult all look the same. It was a sea of 20-somethings with stick-and-poke tattoos and film (that is, not digital) cameras. I saw bits of a few artists’ sets. One of my favorites was Mope Grooves (below), a group that had dreamy, high-school garage-rock vibes. The set ended with the band’s frontman hanging from the rafters and standing on top of the stage’s drum set. The show’s crowd was light because it was early in the day, but it was one that I would definitely love to see again when the band goes on tour. I caught a few songs from Gal Pals, a female two-piece, that performed with simple rhythms and awesome melodies.
I received an emergency text from a friend: she found free nachos and Bloody Marys, and I needed to find her immediately. I hopped on the next bus downtown, but by the time I found her, the venue was closed. We headed to the convention center, which is the hub of the festival and the equivalent of a watering hole when it comes to phone charging. In every corner there are people huddled around outlets—some people hovering, waiting for their chance to charge.
My friend and I sat down to change and plan out our evening, which included going to Cheer Up Charlie’s for the JanSport Bonfire Session. We headed there and, of course, waited in line. I watched people battle over free backpacks. The lineup started with Los Angeles band Talk in Tongues (above), who seemed to be trying for a 1975 look. I wasn’t too impressed and thought I could better spend my time eating, so I went to a food tuck and bought a shrimp po’ boy, which made me happy.
Only Real (above) were on next, but due to more than 20 minutes of technical difficulties, the set was cut to five songs. Only Real was on the list of acts I was hoping to catch at SXSW that I hadn’t seen live yet. The first time I heard Only Real I thought it sounded like a British version of Mac DeMarco with some rap verses, and I loved it. Considering it was the group’s only official show of the festival, you could tell Niall Galvin was a bit upset about the setback, but he made up for it with an energetic set filled with goofy dance moves and animated facial expressions.
After Only Real was New York band Public Access T.V. (above), which I had never of heard before—and honestly, the whole set I was thinking about how delicious my po’ boy was and how the group’s guitarist looks like Drake Bell. Twin Peaks took the stage next, and the crowd around the stage started to swell. The first time I saw these boys was two years ago at First Avenue when they opened up for Foxygen (which also happened to be the night that one of the guys in Foxygen fell off the stage).
That show left an impression on me in many ways, and I try to catch Twin Peaks whenever the group come through Minneapolis. I don’t know how to put into words how energetic they are live, and they almost move too fast for photos. The crowd got extremely rowdy on Wednesday and security had to step in. Fans kept on grabbing the security guard’s butt, and he was not having it. There were fans standing up on the speakers and jumping off to do stage dives—chaos everywhere.
I didn’t have an ounce of energy once the show was over, so I decided to call it a night. More tomorrow.
Bridget Bennett is a photographer at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities.