Four of your favorite BreakThru Radio DJs took over Austin, Texas last week for SXSW Music Festival. Everyone had a darn good time and they’ve brought back some great anecdotes and stories. They’ve also learned the tricks of the trade and have some tips that may help you out next year.

Read the survey below for some interesting stories from the BTR DJ’s happenings at SXSW.

Drink Up Buttercup (photo by Phillip Nguyen)

DJ Latola

Favorite Showcase:
Well, I am biased to the BTR Showcase of course (Morningbell, Drink Up Buttercup, Battlehooch, WIld Yaks), but right up there with it is the Float, and by that I mean I Guess I’m Floating Fest 2K10 at Lovejoy’s. The lineup was gravity strong and steel drum solid, with Holiday Shores, Tanlines, Le Loup, Beach Fossils, Javelin, Lemonade, The Ruby Suns, Small Black/Washed Out, Toro Y Moi and Oh No! Oh My. Curators Nathaniel and Connor did a damn fine job hosting, Tang-looking Flying Dog beer flowed freely from the taps, and I interviewed almost all the bands that played. Plus, everyone had a glow-in-the-dark BTR button stuck somewhere on their person.

Biggest Surprise:
I’m afraid this superlative has a negative connotation in my mind. I went to three different shows based on the usually trustworthy Sched* website, only to discover they were all wrong (wrong time, wrong day and flat wrong). Time is precious at SXSW, and wasting all those hours walking to mirages on Thursday irks me still.

Best New Find (one band):
Actually, can I reverse this question? How about best revelation? Unforeseen circumstances led me to the Palm Door on Wednesday night, where I caught a set from Wanda Jackson, who was recently inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Her country twang has a wink to it, nevermind a lil’ hand-on-hip sass, and it still sounds smashing after all these years. In addition to the hits (“Mean Man,” “Hard Headed Woman”) she also did her cover of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good,” which she recently recorded for Third Man Records (working with Jack White). “He pushed me so hard,” Jackson recalled. Three cheers to White for making fresh Wanda wax! Go check her history, you’ll be amazed. Pioneer ain’t the word, and those videos on Youtube, damn. It’s no surprise she once dated Elvis.

Favorite Meal:
Oddly enough, I would say my favorite meal was the day we were so busy that I only had time to eat a cupcake, from the cupcake truck on 6th Street. As I was starving, it was easily the best cupcake I had ever had, and probably the first cupcake I’ve eaten in at least 3 years. I savored every bite, with a look on my face like Harrison Ford after he drank from the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. Phil got one as well, but I don’t know if it had the same kind of significance for him. I shoulld ask.

Funniest Moment:
We were at The Phoenix watching Le Castlevania (Dylan Eiland) on the ones, twos, Mac n’ MPC, what-have-you, and he was on the brink of exploding into a huge beat change after a lengthy build-up. Right at that obligatory moment of silence, that one quiet pause to heighten anticipation before the music returns with a resounding crash (Eiland had his arm raised high high, grinning at the crowd), the sound man suddenly came out of nowhere and forcefully whispered something into the ear of Le Castlevania. The beat dropped with a look of baffled “WTF?!” on Eiland’s face, so much that he forgot to piston his arm down at the predetermined moment. It was hilarious to watch (Phil and I laughed without restraint, couldn’t help it), but I felt really bad for the guy. That’s a heck of a bad play by the sound man, killing a bread-and-butter moment in a DJ’s set.

SXSW Staples:
iPhone cord and wall attachment charger. I lost mine somewhere ’round Sabine Street, and it killed my late night live coverage. That, business cards, the iPhone itself and my audio recorder (oh cherished keeper of questions & answers).
What I learned for next year:
What I learned this year, well, I think it would help to decide before the week starts to fully commit to either early days/day parties, or night parties/late nights, and then stick to it. Doing both in consecutive days throws off your equilibrium, and when you’re constantly asking people somewhat personal questions, you have to be green, and by that I mean ON.

The “Band to See” that I saw:
This one is subjective, I suppose, but for me it’s always Drink Up Buttercup. Sure, I’ve seen them over ten times, but the debut album, dropping this Tuesday, is an instant classic, and I will fight anyone that disagrees.

Best Quote Heard:
“This is so embarrassing, but does anybody have any extra guitar picks?” – Surfer Blood frontman John Paul Pitts between songs at the Dickies/Filter Showcase at Lustre Pearl. Yes, Surfer Blood played so many shows at SXSW, they ran out of guitar picks.

Hardest place to get into:
Anyplace Here We Go Magic played. I missed them three times, by the Gods.

Biggest Hassle:
This one is easy. It’s mistakes on the Sched* website for me, no question. Or trying to get all the BTR DJs that made it Austin together for a group picture.

What I missed that I wish I saw:
Well, everything. Knowledge is power, so being a radio DJ, bearing witness to live music is power. But to be more specific, I’ll say Shearwater, Sleigh Bells, The xx, Here We Go Magic, Bill Murray and Jay Reatard. And I never got to sit down and shake hands with a Torchy’s taco

Best Memory:
I’ve got four. The first is Jim and Ben of Drink Up Buttercup asking me what song they should play next at their acoustic showcase at The Hideout. I went for “Pink Sunshine,” but almost instantly regretted not asking for “Even Think.” I was utterly shocked when they asked me, and panicked.

The second is watching Malachai play “Another Sun” at Antone’s. Frontman Gee Ealey did a lil’ harmonic a Capella beforehand, which made for a beautifully unexpected set-up, and the performance really struck home how incredibly versatile dude is at singing in different styles. You could say he has skeleton key pipes.

The third is walking by Stubb’s en route to Club Deville to miss Here We Go Magic, and hearing The Walkmen launch into “The Rat,” which sounded perfect. Only at SXSW do you blithely stroll by a band performing one of the best rock songs of the Double Aughts.

The fourth, and possibly best, is simple. Just being able to spend time with all of my co-workers (Lottie, Phil, Emily, Adi, Mike G & Madalyn) and debate about music, I loved every minute of it.


Favorite Showcase: True Panther Sounds Party at Ms. Bea’s (Cheer Up Charlie’s)
Cross over to the east side of the high way on 6th St. and you’ll find a parking lot with two stages set up. There’s a booth for beer and food grilling into the late night. Teengirl Fantasy flung bass into the Austin air, and you could see a bee hive being constructed around the baby-faced Morning Benders. The humble setting, the open air, and the youth on stage made this my favorite showcase.

(photo by Phillip Nguyen)

Biggest Surprise: Broken Bells
Danger Mouse needs to be utilized more. He’s the Steve Buscemi of music, and it was great seeing him jump from instrument to instrument like a busboy cleaning tables. What’s funny is that I needed Matt to remind me who Broken Bells were.

(photo by Phillip Nguyen)

Best New Find: Warpaint
The only song I had heard from them prior to SXSW was an ethereal reworking of Mary Well’s hit, “My Guy” (coincidentally penned by Smokey Robinson, who was the keynote speaker at this year’s fest). It’s possible I could have been wooed by the foxiness of this LA troupe, but 2 out of 6 people I struck up conversations with mentioned that I should catch them before the week ran out.

Favorite Meal: Late night BBQ truck on Red River near 6th St.
After a long day of hosting our day party on Tuesday and running back and forth from the hotel, 11 hours passed without a meal taking place. A white BBQ truck had caught my fancy before, but a plate of meat never sounded more delicious till now. 6$ for a plate of BBQ meat, tater salad, beans, and white bread. They ran out of silverware by the time I got there, but I didn’t need them in the first place.

Funniest Moment: Walking by a car that was pulled over by cops on horses. This was an iconic Texas moment.

SXSW Staples: Smart phone, phone charger, location of 24 hour coffee stops, and camera.

What I learned for next year: Toss any plan you have out the window and don’t eat BBQ at 2AM.

(photo by Phillip Nguyen)

The “Band To See” that I saw: The XX
Everything about it was ideal. It was at a spot called the French Legation Museum. It was outdoors. I was upfront. I had missed out and heard all of the talk after CMJ, but now I can affirm that this band is special (and as one fan put it, “real”).

Best Quote Heard: “I’m in Texas so there’s gonna be lots of this…pew pew pew pew pew pew”, from a random woman on the sidewalk who made gun slinging motions.

Hardest Place To Get Into: Fader Fort
I never got in, but I got amazing coffee and a cup of breakfast at Progress across the street.

Biggest Hassle: ATM charges

What I missed that I wish I saw: GZA, Bill Murray, Holy Fuck, and Here We Go Magic.

Best Memory: All of Friday, Day Four of SXSW
The staff got together to host the I Guess I’m Floating Party. There was a great line-up with standouts such as Le Loup, The Ruby Suns, and Beach Fossils. We had Stubb’s for dinner. Matt and I went out and saw Broken Bells and Surfer Blood. By the end of the day I had seen 12 bands and taken hundreds of pictures. My feet will never be the same. Amen.

DJ Lottie

Favorite Showcase:
First Aid Kit, JJ, Holy Fuck and GZA at Mohawk

Biggest Surprise:
the food (Austin has a great food scene)

Favorite Meal: Chile Rellenos at Chouy’s

Funniest Moment: Seeing Goth bands walking around on 6th street.

SXSW Staples (things you need while traveling around town/ couldn’t live without at SXSW): Comfortable shoes

What I learned for next year: A lot

The “Band to See” that I Saw: Javelin

Best Quote Heard: From a band dude, “I maxed out my mom’s credit card, how are we gonna get back?”

Hardest place to get into: Any place with a big band playing

Biggest Hassle: Not enough napkins after eating BBQ.

What I missed that I wish I saw: Gwar

Best Memory: Billy Bragg

Lottie’s Meal at Stubb’s BBQ

Link to this article:

– Emily Smith


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