Worlds collided at SXSW 2022, where we brought Brooklyn to Austin in all the best ways
The last night of SXSW was Saturday… maybe Sunday? But by Saturday, I could barely keep my eyes open… or my brunch down… or my body vertical, soooo I decided to call it. And I think I’ve recovered? TBD. (I’M OLD.) Anyway, here’s a recap.
When I started BdBK three years ago, I had no tangible goals or a real plan in mind (spoiler alert: STILL DON’T!). I just had a mission: to support local music and promote the bands that I love. That said, when prompted, I did eventually decide that that an objective marker of progress, having ~made it~ as a blog, would be to be considered “press”—to be able to apply for a pass to a show or festival and be granted it. To be let into the club, considered a real outlet by the festival powers that be. And this year, my one concrete goal came true when my application was accepted and I was granted a music badge to cover SXSW. My pitch for coverage: promote, support and cover NYC bands going down to Austin and playing the fest—
In other words: basically do the same thing I do in Brooklyn. But, you know, in shorts.
Before I moved to Brooklyn in 2016, I spent nine years living in Austin, so that week was truly a colliding of worlds in the best way. I bounced around the city with my old friends, to see my new friends. I ran into a dude I went to elementary school with two decades ago and then, five minutes later, a woman I met and worked with in New York five years ago. I took bathroom breaks with girls whose kids I’m a godparent to, then stood in drink lines next to artists whose songs I’ve premiered. It was a magical gelling of people, and a super trippy experience. Six days in ATX, soundtracked by NYC bands, as I had the wonderful and incredibly rare opportunity to combine elements of my present and past (and way past) lives in the most glorious and absolutely insane of settings.
While these were different people and places and parts of my life coming together, the common denominator and the most important part was, of course, the music. And while I may have technically traveled 1757 miles to support bands I see perform several times a year within five miles of my Crown Heights apartment, that’s what our scene, and this blog, are all about. Community, man. And I’m here to tell you, no one does that better than Brooklyn. The incredible talent and unwavering support and true beauty of our little world was on full display at venues across Austin all week. And while I obviously don’t have kids, there were so many moments where I did feel very Proud Mom™ (specifically Amy Poehler in Mean Girls when she’s cheering and dancing weird and videotaping the whole performance) as I looked around and saw crowds of people actively falling in love with the very bands I’m lucky to call my neighbors and friends.
While SXSW somehow simultaneously manages to make you feel like you’ve done more than you could ever do and yet also missed out on so much, I’ve assembled 10 ~personal~ highlights from the fest featuring what else but some of my favorite New York bands. While the this fest is, at its core, supposed to be about discovery, for me this year, it was more about remembering. Mostly, how lucky I am. How lucky we all are. Brooklyn is where it’s at y’all. And even though I know I love it, it’s the moments when I’m gone that make me even more thankful to live there. And, like always, super super stoked to get back.
10 MAGIC NYC x AUSTIN MOMENTS
- After three hours of sleep post-New Colossus, stumbling sleep deprived and hungover onto an 8 a.m. flight from JFK to Austin and being randomly seated next to Lily Desmond of Sloppy Jane. Then catching the band at Mohawk later that week at the Saddest Factory, standing with friends (including Bobby of toucan sounds //youtoocanwoo studios // French Horn Rebellion) that I had met in line and automatically bonded with because we all had NYC IDs. And watching as Hailey of Sloppy Jane conducted what—given the cape and goth vibes—initially felt like that vampire musical from Forgetting Sarah Marshall before exploding into a full-on rock concert, complete with some very sick Phoebe Bridgers action.
- Recreating Our Wicked Lady at Austin Eastciders, complete with performances from Dead Tooth, The Bobby Lees, The Thing (my new favorites), The Cult of Chunk, So and So, GIFT, Cindy Cane, Grandpa Jack and Tilden (+ Tino Drima and BIG FUN, two killer Cali acts booked by Brandon). And, best of all, meeting Ethan of So and So’s mom, who drove down to Austin to see him play and was so happy to be there and so proud. Then interviewing her. Then maybe crying a little bit. (I LOVE PARENTS.)
- Sliding into Side Bar in the middle of a GIFT set, and after obnoxiously blowing kisses at Kallan and Cooper and crew, filling a new fan from the crowd in on the band and their background. Then finding out that dude graduated from the same Houston high school I did 2 1/2 decades before I did and lived on the same exact street I grew up in, before I was even born. Then seeing Tilden file in and the Dead Tooth saxophonist cruise in on roller blades and watching as an Austin bar basically transformed into the Morgan L stop.
- Speaking of Dead Tooth: Tearing up while watching Zach and co. tear it up on the Stubb’s stage—where I’ve seen some of the best concerts of my life—at the Spin Mag party, which felt like such a major fucking milestone moment for a band I love so, so much, who deserve it so, so much. And having the following exchange with a middle-aged woman up against the barrier:
- Her: “These guys are great! Who are they?”
- Me: “Dead Tooth from Brooklyn. SO SICK RIGHT?!”
- Her: “So good. The lead singer does look like he smells a little funky, though.” (I assured her he did NOT.) (Though, that many days into SX, she miiight have been right.)
- Seeing my friends (and former Crown Heights neighbors) Superbloom play the Do512 Lounge, my favorite venue in Austin—and witnessing them kill it, even though their drummer was on crutches due to the previous night’s breakdancing accident. (Don’t ask.) Then, seeing them destroy it again on Saturday afternoon at Do512’s Big One, while my very hungover and in-pain Austin friend of almost a decade complained through his sunglasses about how loud they were. Then catching an afternoon set from Moon Kissed, who majorly delivered, as always, while wearing kneepads, right after. And eating two vegan cupcakes, which is not really relevant, but was pretty goddamn magical nonetheless.
- Catching the Women That Rock x Paste Magazine showcase and seeing Andie Aranow of WTR’s beautiful vision come together IRL with female-fronted NYC acts I know and love (Pom Pom Squad, Sunflower Bean) as well as one of my new favorite discoveries, Hannah Jadagu. (Also local!) And hanging out with Keira of Climates and 3/4 of Colatura in the crowd while drinking a Natty Light? And vaping? WOO, COLLEGE!
- Bouncing between the inside of Hotel Vegas to the Volstead Lounge, adjacent venues where three Brooklyn bands—Couch Prints, Godcaster and Patti—were all playing on one night. And somehow seeing all of them for the very first time in Austin instead of in Brooklyn? Worth the commute.
- Drinking White Claws with a former coworker from 2012 while catching Paul Jacobs, a killer Canadian musician I had met and seen twice during New Colossus Festival (so we’re including it here!) the week before. And whom I am definitely planning on seeing at Tree Fort this week. (RIP ME.)
- Running out of Cheer Up Charlie’s to grab an Uber and running into Been Stellar smoking outside, riding the high of having just performed in front of the biggest crowd they’d ever played to on the Hotel Vegas Patio.
- Spending time in several concert crowds with PJ of Significant Otters, The LA DI DAs and Pet Rescue. Just like I inevitably do every single Frida … and every single Saturday… and quite a few MondaysTuesdaysWednesdaysThursdays… in Brooklyn. Just like nature intended.
Feature image of Pom Pom Squad by Keira Zhou.