The Winners & Losers of SXSW 2015Monday, April 13th, 2015
Audio Blood‘s Sari Delmar & Sacha Miller were on the ground in Austin as Canadian Musician‘s SXSW 2015 correspondents. Looking back at the fest, Sari shares her thoughts on the Winners and Losers of the 2015 edition of the world’s largest new music festival.
SXSW is a beast of a festival, but that’s why it’s the best time! The music industry is out in full swing, great bands take over every venue, and sponsors bring out the big guns. Everyone is trying to cut through the clutter. While some do it oh so well, others fall hard – and publicly. But hey! You know what they say… There’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Here are some of the winners and losers from our time in Austin!
Toronto’s own Alvvays made us proud! An obvious buzz band of the festival, Alvvays played to packed shows where even the media was raging to get in! It’s great to see an alternative band go from local success story to internationally-acclaimed artist so quickly. Since then, Alvvays have graced the cover of NOW Toronto and played a sold-out Massey Hall show supporting The Decemberists. Fans can also look forward to their upcoming performance at Canadian Music Week as part of the SiriusXM Indies.
#2 Toronto Mayor John Tory
Toronto’s mayor made a trip down for Wednesday and Thursday alongside a number of city staff. City councillors Michael Thompson and Josh Colle, Music Sector Development Officer Mike Tanner, and Director of Entertainment Industries Zaib Shaikh all made it out for SXSW. The trip was on the heels of Tory’s election where he boasted about the support and changes he wanted to make for the local Toronto music community.
The Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance partnership was created two years ago and Tory has made the alliance a priority since his election last fall. We hope this will bring about great things for Toronto. And he’s not too bad of a dancer either! Tory was out late both nights meeting artists including Blake Carrington, Grand Analog, The OBGMs, and others. As a member of the alliance, I share the mayor’s enthusiasm and look forward to turning our ideas into action soon.
During SXSW, Ticketfly announced some big news: that they’d acquired Northern Tickets, MRG’s ticketing operation. The company has been killing it since their inception in 2008 and their Canadian team is likewise bringing revolution to the ticketing game with their innovative platform.
The Vancouver electro act took SXSW by storm with two successful late-night ragers and a wild day set at the Mad Decent and Fool’s Gold Records party presented by IHEARTCOMIX. With their debut album Noontide earning rave reviews, features in Billboard, THUMP and more, upcoming sets at Canadian Music Week, as well as the inaugural Bestival in Toronto, HUMANS are taking over the late-night festival circuit! Expect to hear much more from this breakout duo.
#5 Dine Alone Records
Opting to do their own showcase outside of Canada House, the label took over Wednesday night at Bungalow. Their showcase was well curated and packed for most of the evening featuring notable talent like Yukon Blonde, BRONCHO, and The Dodos. Dine Alone stood out further with their clever “Canadian Is Not a Genre” merch, which bartenders and supporters sported proudly!
It really hit the nail on the head. More often than not, Canadian music gets lumped together on the international stage without much attention paid to genres and the extreme diversity our country has to offer. By celebrating its 10 year anniversary in style, the Toronto-based label proved that Canadian companies do have a place in the international market and their artists have received international buzz as such. Well done!
In addition, Volu.me was on-site demo-ing their connected concert fan experience app. Fans could arrive and connect with the Dine Alone app to win swag throughout the night!
#6 MuchFACT Brunch
Woah does MuchFACT treat us good. Taking over an upstairs patio of Iron Cactus, MuchFACT treated guests to an amazing brunch with Mexican-inspired dishes. I’m salivating just thinking about it. Toronto’s Phedre offered the perfect sounds to start the day alongside a coffee and some Caesars.
#7 July Talk
I mean of course we know how much this band has rocked Canada in the last year, but it seems international audiences are taking note, too. Following their JUNO Award wins, they brought their edgy and sexy performance to each one of their 10(!!) showcases throughout the week. These guys (and gal) are unstoppable.
#8 Buzz Records
Watch out for this rising indie label! Buzz is making waves and their Sledge Hammer showcase on Saturday night put the noise back in noise rock. HSY and Crosss are definitely two noise rock bands you just have to experience live. Great to see them making their presence known on the international stage.
#9 Dry the River
I like to call them the UK’s Hey Rosetta. These whimsical lads played three times and when one of the venues had a crap PA system, they went in to the audience to sing their orchestral ballads acoustically. A true highlight of the festival for me.
#10 Aussie BBQ
Sounds Australia does such a great job at their events. Despite the rain, we had a great time stopping by their double stage affair on Saturday. We even sported ponchos like it was fashion week! Breakout artist SAFIA was a ray of sunshine on the otherwise cloudy day. A real treat. Can’t wait for the CMW edition of the Aussie BBQ in Toronto this May!
#1 – Fader Fort Presented by Converse
Despite being everyone’s favourite spot to hang during the fest and having the high-profile special guests this year, Fader fell short on the final night. Sure, Miley Cyrus stopped by earlier in the week, and notable guests included Timbaland, Mike Will, T-Pain, Big Sean, and Chance the Rapper, but when rumours are spreading rapidly about a possible set from Kanye to Drake to even Prince, fans left disappointed expecting additional surprises after the unexpected Twista set. Womp womp womp. Sorry to everyone who waiting in line for hours. C’est la vie!
#2 – SXSW Music Conference Attendance
While their programming was superb and is curated by voters like you and I, attendance for all the panels I popped into was very low. The rooms were large and production was great, but I fear the SXSW conference might have bit off more than it could chew. It’s hard to leave the day parties and funnel in to an educational environment. A more focused selection of panels would raise attendance across each of them next year. I am a true believer in quality over quantity!
#3 – Mother Nature
Everyone comes out for SXSW – and that means the rain storms, too, I guess! Wet and soggy was the standard for 75% of the fest. If there was any week not to rain, it was this one. Mother Nature, get it together! Believe it or not, the rain made a winner out of someone: brands that came prepared with ponchos plastered in their logos and hashtags. Smart way to create instant human billboards!
#4 – Water in a Can
This is a real thing! As found behind the bar at Stubbs, you can now buy Deja Blue still water in a can. YUM! (You bet it tastes like aluminum foil.)
#5 – This Feminist Panelist
On a panel regarding the future of tech, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt was called out by someone in the audience for constantly cutting off U.S. Chief Technology Officer and former Google VP Megan Smith, the only woman on the panel. The heckler turned out to be fellow Google employee Judith Williams. Sheesh! Funny enough, they were even discussing gender issues in the workplace.
Read the full story here:
#6 – My Feet
My feet came back with blisters and bleeding sores. They just couldn’t handle the SXSW intensity and I don’t blame em. It’s hard work!
So there you have it. You can’t win em’ all!
Sari Delmar is the CEO and Founder of Audio Blood, a full-service artist and brand development company based in Toronto, Ontario. Audio Blood is a community of young, culturally engaged, and inspired tastemakers. Audio Blood has earned its name as a go-to hub for groundbreaking events and talent by making genuine and honest connections with every person it works with. AB’s client roster includes Canadian Music Week, PledgeMusic, Volu.me, Goldenvoice, and more. Sari has spoken at conferences around the world and guest blogged for Hypebot, Musicthinktank, Sonic Bids, and more. http://audioblood.com.