Music

What it’s REALLY like to play South By Southwest: A visual diary by Food Court

Tacos, pizzas, bbq meat, repeat – Cristian Campano from Sydney garage outfit Food Court reports on his first ever South By Southwest. Photos by Michelle Campano.

Phwoaarrr what a mad fortnight. If you get an invite to play SXSW and you don’t think you have enough overseas ‘traction’ to warrant the trip, I suggest you do it regardless. It’s a manic circus in Austin and you’ll rinse heaps of cash but you’ll have way more fun in two weeks than you’d have in Bali drinking Binis with ya schoolies mates. We totally did.

Our first show at SXSW was the Strange Brew showcase at Hotel Vegas run by the legendary Austin music/entertainment website Do512. Their motto is ‘Do Awesome Stuff’ and they surely do that. With the Californian garage powerhouse Meatbodies headlining the party with over 20 bands over three stages, it was a ball.

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Lone Star is an easy drinking Texan lager that presents itself in a long, cold tinnie form. This was the start of many Lone Star sessions that went down that week.

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Somehow every driver in Austin seemed to be a music enthusiast or musician. We met ‘Bobby The Cab Driver’ who had moved there from NY to escape the “influx of hipsters”. Whether he was telling the truth about his party days with The Ramones it didn’t really matter as he was a fucking hoot.

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Our Sounds Australia showcase was at a lil Irish Bar called B.D.Rileys on the ‘Dirty Sixth’ which is the hectic main street in Austin. It’s pretty much like how Kings Cross used to be 10 years ago. Everything from hip-hop crews emblazoned with their crew names trying to sell their CD mixtapes to people trying to get money out of you for taking a photo with their pet ferret. It’s a wild place.

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Went to La BBQ for some smoked meat goodness. I know it looks like a generic Surry Hills dude food bar but this was actually the real deal. Smoked brisket, beef rib, chipotle slaw, potato salad and some sugar buns to top it off. I don’t know how Americans eat this stuff all the time. We had no choice but to have a siesta.

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The Do512 crew invited us to their offices south of the city to play their annual SXSW ‘Lounge Session’. They had a sweet open plan office space with an adjoining live band room which was next level. Shout outs to Ashley, Courtney, Jimmy and Lawrence who were the nicest team ever. Here’s a video they did for ‘NOT MY WAY’ off our forthcoming album:

We played a game called ‘cornhole’ at the Do512 office party. You throw sacks of corn and try and get them into a hole in a piece of wood five metres away. It was fucking fun.

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The joys of finding a laundromat when you don’t pack enough clothes and you’re sweating through shows. We didn’t have to tip for the washing machines which was pretty much the only time we didn’t have to tip all trip.

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The legendary Aussie BBQ at Brush Park was heaps of fun. Glenn Dickie from Sounds Australia geed up the crowds of people who came early to claim their free bbq like a boss. Was great to play alongside Aussies Alex Lahey, Rolling Blackouts and All Our Exes Live In Texas. Such a solid lineup.

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Tacos, pizzas, bbq meat, repeat. It’s hard to escape the heavyweight but delicious food in Texas. We ended up partying till dawn in a big fuckoff castle that night on the outskirts of Austin. The place was owned by a wealthy radio mogul who slept in a four-storey turret in the middle of the estate.

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We left Austin as shells of human beings to play a last minute show at Pianos in NYC. Then ate some pizza at “The Best Pizza In NY”, which seemed to be written on every pizza joint in the city.

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Played a super fun show in Toronto at The Silver Dollar Room then flew to Montreal to play at Turbohaus in a full-on snow. The owner Sergio sat us down and proceeded to load us with booze and shots which continued all night. Canadian hospitality at its best.

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We stayed our last few nights in the picturesque old Montreal area. Loula our lovely host took us to see a ‘Habs’ (aka Montreal Canadiens) hockey game which was nuts. We bought heaps of Habs merch, drunk litre beers through a straw and pretended to be locals. It was a fitting end to an amazing two weeks of music, meeting some amazing people and rinsing our credit cards.

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Food Court are touring their debut album nationally in June/July 2017.

Disclaimer: Cristian Campano is a Junkee Media employee.