South by Southwest 2010 is now over but it was an experience that I will never forget. Every band comes to the festival for their own reasons. Some bands come to showcase. Some bands come to party and drink free beer. Some bands come with no plan, just because they have heard that South by Southwest is a place where dreams come true. I think that Judgement Day fit into the latter category this year. Having never been to the festival before, we really had no idea of what to expect. We only had the faith that it would be an event rife with opportunities for our unconventional, independent string-metal band.
If you had asked me before our tour if I would like to showcase for a room full of music industry bigwigs I would have said, “Yes! for sure!” We definitely did not do that; there were no big record execs at our out-of-the-way, underground shows. After everything that I’ve seen and experienced this week though, I really don’t feel like we missed out. Instead of showcasing for record executives, we spent the week playing real shows for real people. We played on the streets for everyone walking by, and free parties where no one was turned away for lack of an official badge. We played an amazing party on Thursday night, put together by our tour-mates BATTLEHOOCH, in the overgrown back yard of a punk house for a crowd of artists, musicians, fans and friends. We had the time of our lives dancing our hearts out while the lawyers and managers typed away on their BlackBerrys at the official SXSW show across the street.
All week we handed out fliers for our big Saturday show but when the day finally came, the weather (which had been warm and beautiful all week) suddenly became brutally severe. Temperatures dropped into the 30′s and were accompanied by strong gusts of freezing wind. This was bad news for us because the road to our venue was quite a trek from the heart of the SXSW festival. It was 1.5 miles away across a giant bridge infested by over one million bats. We thought for sure that our show would be empty, but as we set up the room began to fill and when we played the house was packed. I cannot fully express our gratitude towards those who braved the storm to see us. I only hope that the show, in my opinion one of our best ever, was a just reward.
In the end, did our dreams come true? I’d say the jury is still out. I dream of the day when a band can find its audience without going through the lawyers and record executives. I definitely doubt that we will come away from this year’s SXSW with the ability to sell out The Fillmore, but I do know this:
We played on the streets of Austin all day long for three days straight and during that time there were not 5 minutes that went by without someone filming us. We may have been filmed over a thousand times. So far only one group has posted their video: NPR’s All Songs Considered. What will happen when everyone else posts?