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In the middle of March every year, buzz bands, budding acts and tastemakers flock to the live music capital of the world, Austin, for the the most daunting and spectacular event of the year, South By Southwest Conference and Festival. Long-lived has been the belief that musicians don’t take their careers seriously if they don’t perform at SXSW....unless they are touring in Europe. That may be because SXSW, which debuted in 1987, now receives more than 16,000 applicants and is a destination for learning about not only the newest music, but also the latest technologies.
SXSW in Austin
With two years of experience on my back, a hotel booked 6 months in advance and weeks of show RSVPs sent back, I felt totally prepared to dive into a music lover’s ultimate fantasy. As a Nashville resident, I am often disappointed when many of my favorite bands and electronic acts skip over my city when they are on tour. Thankfully, SXSW is the perfect opportunity to run around downtown Austin and see almost every up-and-coming band that I’ve heard about or gushed over in the past year.

This year, SXSW 2013  took place March 12-17, and I went for multiple purposes - to assist the electronic R&B/hip hop musician I manage, The GTW, to see all of the musicians I’ve been drooling over for the past 12 months, to meet up with my friends from all over the country, and even more importantly, network my butt off. Thankfully, even without an official SXSW badge or wristband, I attended for two days,  March 14-17, experienced everything I wanted to see and, thanks to a few well-connected friends, was able to avoid the excruciatingly long lines all weekend.
The GTW
From the flyers alone, one can easily tell who are the most hyped artists at SXSW. Based on their numerous appearances, Disclosure, Cashmere Cat and The Underachievers seemed like artists everyone wanted to see. I had already featured Disclosure’s Face EP as one of the “Best 12 Albums You’ve Never Heard Of” and Cashmere Cat and The Underachievers as “honorable mentions” in our “To Watch For In 2013,” in Dishmag.com, so I wasn’t surprised to find they were the top buzz artists at SXSW this year.

In 2012, the UK-based deep house and 2-step garage duo Disclosure mesmerized American audiences when they toured across the states with their live show that actually involves instruments. Those who have seen them on tour have seen them work MacBooks, drum pads and synths. Their single, "Latch," featuring Sam Smith, caught fire in Europe and peaked at Number 11 on the UK Singles Chart. “Latch” spent 14 weeks in the Top 40, and Disclosure did it again this year when they teamed up with AlunaGeorge on the dance hit, “White Noise,” which peaked at Number 2 in the UK. Band members 21-year-old Guy Lawrence and his 18-year-old brother, Howard Lawrence, played the most hyped showcase at the FADER Fort on Friday as well as the Pitchfork Night Party, the AM Only showcase, Hype Hotel, the Gorilla vs. Bear & Yourstru.ly Day Party, the I Am Sound Party and the Biz 3 showcase. Whew, those boys were busy!
Disclosure
While Cashmere Cat and The Underachievers haven’t received major radio love yet, they are swimming in praise in the blogosphere, which is the barometer watched by most tastemakers at SXSW. Cashmere Cat is a mysterious, long-haired electronic producer from Norway who had people unsure of his actual name, musical genre or even gender when he first popped onto the scene in the fall of 2012. The only certainty was that the talented producer had an infatuation with cats and a unique style of electronic production that blended seductive R&B, bass heavy hip hop and forward-thinking dance music. He quickly gained a fanbase when he released his woozy and soulful 4-track Mirror Maru EP on Pelican Fly Records in October. Around that time, he unveiled his identity as Magnus August Høiberg, a producer who had worked with labels like Kitsuné, True Panther and Ninja Tune.
Cashmere Cat
Cashmere Cat cemented himself as many people’s favorite new producer when he took an official remix of Lana Del Rey’s “National Anthem” and a bootleg edit of Jeremih’s R&B hit “773 Love” to a new level. Vibe magazine listed the Cashmere Cat edit of "No Lie" by 2 Chainz and Drake Number 1 on a list of "25 Awesome Genre-Benders of 2012." At SXSW, Cashmere played at the True Panther Sounds/Terrible Records showcase, Flosstradamus presents Turn Up! SXSW, Skream’s Skreamizm Party and the Live For The Funk Day Party.

In the hip hop world, New York’s The Underachievers aren’t afraid to step foot in different environments. Last year, rappers Issa Dash and Ak signed to Flying Lotus' electronic-focused label Brainfeeder. This year, they were the rap group on the tip of everyone’s tongue. The Underachievers are among a new school of New York City-based rapper crews known as The Beast Coast Movement. In addition to The Underachievers, other rap collections in the Beast Coast Movement include A$AP Rocky and the A$AP Mob, Joey Bada$$ and The Progressive Era (Pro Era), Flatbush Zombies, World's Fair, Smoke DZA and Bodega Bamz. Fittingly, The Underachievers played at Peter Rosenberg Presents: The New York Renaissance, the exclusive, unofficial SXSW party The Illmore, The Boiler Room, BrooklynVegan showcase and Noisey presents Brisk Bodega at the VICELAND Courtyard.
The Underachievers and the Flatbush Zombies
At this year’s SXSW, I switched my focus from seeing mostly indie rock and hip hop artists to seeing more electronic producers and DJs. Anyone who has been listening to the radio for the past year can hear that electronic dance music (EDM) is the newest buzz word and is here to stay. Many of the electronic artists who performed at SXSW also play at the Winter Music Conference and Ultra in Miami in the days following.

Boiler Room FlyerI found myself visiting venues like Barcelona on the illustrious and extremely crowded 6th Street. The underground crowd attracts the hipster kind that loves bass heavy dance music. I also visited The FADER Fort on several occasions. Many people considered the FADER Fort performers the cream of the crop because of the high-profile the show has achieved. Many of the SXSW showcases require an RSVP, but none are enforced like FADER Fort. Everyone knows the time before the RSVP announcement is a stressful one, because no matter whether you are at work, in school or asleep, you MUST, and I mean MUST, RSVP online to gain a FADER Fort bracelet. It’s the only way you can enter the show. Like thousands of other anxious people from around the country, I sent notifications on my iPhone, collected an arsenal of supportive friends who would inform me when the time was right and checked the FADER Twitter account for updates like my life depended on it.

In case you’ve never seen it, FADER is a music magazine that focuses on coverage of emerging musicians from around the world,  and they have showcased these artists at The FADER Fort at SXSW since 2002, . The free show is produced by Lacy Maxwell Productions, and from March 13 to 16, and bands, rappers and DJs perform all day, every day at 1101 E. 5th Street. The Afghan Whigs, Solange, Future, French Montana, Disclosure, Earl Sweatshirt, Schoolboy Q, Trinidad James and many more performed. This year, I was most excited to see Inc, Kingdom and Laura Mvula on Saturday.
Hipstamatic Line
My first day at SXSW 2013 began at The Morning After at Haus of Hipstamatic. Even though I love Austin’s breakfast tacos, I was intrigued by the free brunch provided by the photography app company, Hipstamatic. After waiting more than two hours in line and realizing that I had more willpower than I expected, I eventually entered the promised land, which was a yellow painted house. Hipstamatic provided Mexican food from La Condesa, Cuvée iced coffee, mimosas, Bloody Marys and beer. In addition, the back of the converted house had a stage that featured live performances.

The Morning After brunch took place March 12-16, but I only stopped by one day to pick up grub and catch performances by The Limousines and Capital Cities. If Hipstamatic brings their brunch back next year, I will be prepared to get there before 11am to avoid the line, even though it doesn’t end til 4:00pm.
Live for the Funk Party crowd
After brunch, I met up with a group of friends and headed to the bustling 6th Street for the Live For The Funk Day Party. One of my favorite music blogs right now is Live For The Funk, because its meticulous curating makes it your favorite blogger’s favorite blog. For the past two years, I have been more impressed with LFTF’s lineup than with the prestigious FADER Fort.

Last year’s LFTF showcase featured performances by Jacques Greene, the now defunct LOL Boys, Obey City, Main Attrakionz, Cedaa, D33J, Friendzone and L.W. Hodge with Western Tink and Astronomy. This year, they stepped it up another notch with a lineup that featured The Underachievers, Ryan Hemsworth, Ratking, Cashmere Cat, Samo Sound Boy, Grown Folk and Tommy Kruise. The crowd featured music bloggers and several of my New York friends as well as emerging musicians like M.O.D, Sweater Beats, Two Fresh, Chippy Nonstop and Bohemian Hype Cult. I was most excited to see Cashmere Cat, and my high expectations were matched when the long-haired producer stepped onstage.

Cashmere Cat’s set at the LFTF showcase ended up being my favorite moment of SXSW 2013. He played his original tunes from his Mirror Maru EP, his mindblowing remix of Jeremih’s "773 Love” and an unreleased remix of Miguel’s “Do You” that electrified the entire crowd. He flawlessly reworked massive R&B tunes into gems that I felt obligated to tell people about all weekend.
Boiler Room Skream
It was a hard act to follow, but DJ Ryan Hemsworth’s set followed Cashmere Cat, and it was a perfect transition. Later that weekend, I urged people to see Cashmere Cat’s set, because it was a must-see. Even my jaded NYC friends who worked at tastemaker blogs and record labels were impressed by LFTF’s lineup and the quality of the performances.

After an eventful afternoon, I separated from the group and made the 8-block trek from the venue Joie De Vie on 6th Street to the Austin Convention Center where thankfully, I didn’t need to wait long for a hotel shuttle. After a short ride to my hotel, accompanied by a group of amusing drunk event planners, I reached the comforts of the Casulo Hotel. In a comfy bed, I rested my aching feet, ate room service, made a few of my friends jealous with texts about my SXSW experiences so far and watched one of my favorite chick flicks, “He's Just Not That Into You.” However, I knew that I had to leave the oasis before I fell into a stupor.
Illmore mansion and Illroots team
A little after sundown, I returned to the lovely chaos of SXSW festivities. While riding in a taxi to my first nighttime show,, I was alerted by a text message that wristbands were being given away for the Illmore Mansion Party that night. The Illmore is a huge mansion where rap superstars, DJs and fans party together. But just like the FADER Fort, you are only allowed entry if you have a coveted wristband. When I received a Twitter notification that revealed the location of intersections where wristbands were being passed out, I knew that it was probably my only chance to see what the hype is all about. Sadly, I was not able to obtain a wristband because a cop car showed up shortly after I arrived, disbanding the crowd of excited 20-somethings surrounding the white van with the coveted wristbands inside, as well as me.

Even though I was disappointed that I didn’t have a guaranteed entry into the Illmore, I was excited to meet up with a Seattle-based friend at the Tormenta Tropical vs. Mixpak showcase. My friend works for the Decibel International Festival of Electronic Music Performance, Visual Art and New Media, so I trusted her SXSW showcase recommendations. I walked into a room filled with the lively rhythms of Latin, dancehall and tropical-driven dance music. The night’s bill also featured music by Los Rakas, Just Jubilee, TODDLAT, dre Skull, BRENMAR and The Bug.
Toddlat
My favorite performance at this showcase was the New York-via-Chicago producer Brenmar, who would periodically check the mirror and comb his slicked-back hair. I knew the DJ/producer took pride in his looks when I saw his music video for "Taking It Down,” which took place in a barbershop, but it was more entertaining to see the care he took in person. Despite his stern expression, he would occasionally break out in an infectious smile and dance, while dropping several tunes I’d never heard before, but was able to identify using my trusty Shazam app.

 

 

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 146 - September 6437
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