As a Denver-based blog, we definitely focus our attention on Colorado concerts, but every now and again we try to get out there in the big wide world for some fun and adventure. This March, our quest for music took us to Austin, Texas for the annual pilgrimage to the music festival mecca: SXSW. The festival continues to grow and grow exponentially every year, and with that growth comes bigger crowds, bigger artists, and more diverse musical offerings. Unfortunately this year's event was somewhat kickstarted by tragedy, as a drunk driver plowed through one of the busy, closed streets of downtown Austin late Wednesday evening, injuring 23 people and unfortunately taking the lives of four others. The caring folks at SXSW have established a fund to benefit those who were victims of the tragedy, which you can help support by donating at SXSWCARES.
Despite this heartbreaking start to the week, bands and fans alike marched on, truly epitomizing the spirit of the festival and replacing the melancholy mood with joy and excitement. Both our Editor in Chief Robert Castro as well as writer/photographer Maddie Casey made their way south this year, giving us double the amount of feet on the ground, and double the bands to cover! Between the two of them, Ultra5280 had the chance to watch well over 70+ bands this year in venues ranging from makeshift backyard stages to exclusive rooftop performances. This year Filter Magazine takes the honor of presenting the best showcases of the festival. With a slew of shows all across town, the good folks at Filter gave us unforgettable performances from Damon Albarn, Real Estate, Skaterz, Phantogram, Snoop Dogg, Washed Out, OFF!, and many more. Rainey Street was the place to be for most of these performances, but it was the much talked about rooftop sessions presented by Guitar Center for their tapings that garnered much of the buzz. Bands both big and small graced stages all across town, with some larger acts even playing multiple shows over the weekend, an uncommon, yet exciting delight. With showcases like the Hype Hotel, the Spotify House, Rachel Ray's Feedback, Spin at Stubb's and Fader FORT building into gigantic venues across the highway from downtown, the growth of the festival has become undeniable. This new neighborhood of showcases only proves that the where the music goes, the people will follow. SXSW is changing, growing, and becoming a destination for more than just the staff of the music industry. I'm curious what next year will hold in store for us all.
While in Texas, we got the opportunity to interview a few up-and-coming acts and picked their brains about SXSW, music, and even their favorite Austin cuisine (BBQ vs. Tacos). Below you'll find both Maddie & Castro's Top 5 bands of SXSW, a link to all our interviews from the weekend, and a photo slideshow for you to re-live the week. SXSW 2014 certainly did not disappoint, but just like it does every year, we've been home one week, and are already ready to pack up and head back down.
TOP 5, CASTRO: Skaters, Phantogram, Real Estate, Warpaint, Future Islands.
TOP 5, MADDIE: Gungor, Kris Orlowski, Phantogram, American Authors, Echosmith.
Look for our recap video next week!