SXSW 2013 | 4.14-18.13

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…digging a little deeper, without the efforts of those marketers and agencies we would not have the means to discover incredible music.


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Photos by C Daniel

How is your SXSW going?” a local Austinite was asked, “you must not be from Aus-” “IT’S THE BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE!!!” interrupted another, Sarah, an aspiring singer from Colorado who overheard the question and excitingly blurted her answer. Turns out people who came to SXSW with agendas bothered the local. Many confuse South By Southwest with open-field music festivals such as Coachella or Woodstock where hundreds of bands perform over a few days – one ticket for all performances. While a free spirit and love for music is welcomed and flourished, what generates the volume at SXSW internationally is the business behind what we love so much.  Lovers of music may see an overwhelming amount of marketing verticals in Austin during the week and cringe while thinking corporate bad…. indie good, however, by digging a little deeper, without the efforts of those marketers and agencies we would not have the means to discover incredible music.

Early 2007, before attending my first SXSW, a friend sent an email that simply read: “RSVP for FILTER.” Without knowing what to expect, the RSVP was casted and by Wednesday night of SXSW our FILTER wristbands were picked up from Cedar Street in Austin, TX. FILTER showcased a handful of the best bands and definitely where you wanted to be during the week. I have stood in every possible place of Cedar Street to catch bands; way in the back, practically on the street, inside the bar with only a tiny view of the stage, in the middle of the crowd seeing over heads and most recently up on the balcony as press.

Alan Miller and Alan Sartirana founded FILTER Magazine in 2002, yet their parent Creative Group, which existed before then, started doing showcases in Austin for SXSW shortly after the release of their first issue. Also around this time was beginning of the shift from major labels as artist developers and big sources of funding for bands, which opened up a new financial source; brands. Although other agencies jumped onboard, FILTER reinvented the game by seeking branding partners that are relevant to users of music and working closely with them and their market to create strong synergy between music, events, culture and their product, thus an incredible event that further developed the careers of the band in conjunction with the product they were paired with; both the brand and the band finding equable successes.

A long time friend of mine and owner at Big Hassle Media, Jim Merlis, once said to me “in the 90s, {record} labels had personalities.”   If you were a band you would want to be signed by a certain label based on their personality. Today, each label is a hodgepodge of acts because they are in the business of signing acts that will sell, regardless of their style (luckily indies enveloped within that realm). FILTER events at SXSW create just that kind of nostalgic yet ever-lasting progressive experience. 

This year, FILTER stepped into groundbreaking SXSW territory by co-presenting “Filter on Rainey” Powered by Tumblr, introducing the first-ever branded street officially sanctioned by SXSW, including spaces for marketing partners such as Dr. Martens, Dickies, Macy’s, American Rag, Slacker Radio, and Absolut. Each partner set up individualized pop up hubs on the street and within each show. Some of the headlining acts included Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Cold War Kids, Talib Kweli, Fitz and the Tantrums, The Joy Formidable and others.

The massive block party on Rainey Street extended to four days and into four different venues all within a few blocks from each other (with the exception of Cedar Street): 


Bar 96 – Kim Janssen, Pace-Shifters, The Black Atlantic, Bombay Show Pig, Trauma-Helikopter, Jacco Gardner, Blaudzun with Dutch Impact Dutch Performing Arts, Eurosonic, Noorderslag, Amsterdam Dance Event, Filter Magazine and Planetary Group, Powered by the Cultural Department of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Buma Cultuur
Clive Bar – The Neighbourhood, Blondfire, Guards, Akron/Family, Lord Huron, K.I.D.S, Willy Moon, Michael Kiwanuka, Cold War Kids with dts and Slacker
Lustre Pearl – The Wild Feathers, Solid Gold, In the Valley Below,!!! with Macbeth Footwear


Bar 96 – Airplane Boys, Gemini Club, The Thermals, Surfer Blood, Caveman, Hunters, Flat Bush Zombies, A$AP Ferg, Killer Mike with Dr. Martens 
Cedar Street – Sóley, Ásgeir Trausti, Ólafur Arnalds, Bastille, Charli XCX, Willy Moon, Shout Out Louds, Local Natives with American Rag
Clive Bar – Allah-Lahs, Tijuana Panthers, Superhumanoids, Badbadnotgood, Bass Drum of Death, Hanni El Khatib, Icky Blossoms (right), Sinkane, Delorean, !!! with dts and Slacker
Lustre Pearl – Generationals, Diamond Rings, St. Lucia, Icona Pop, Big K.R.I.T, Big Black Delta, Toro Y Moi with DickiesIcky Blossoms2


Bar 96 – No, Bleeding Rainbow, White Lung, Bleached, Phosphorescent, Metz, King Tuff, Wavves with Dr. Martens
Cedar Street – NP, Kamp! Brodka, Haerts, St. Lucia, Ms Mr, Wild Belle, The Neighbourhood, Haim with American Rag
Clive Bar – Ra Ra Riot, Shout Out Louds, Peace, Ducktails, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Andrew W.K. Vacationer, Fidlar, Kitten with GAP & Tumblr
Lustre Pearl – No Ceremony, Gold Fields, Young Galaxy, Frightened Rabbit, Small Black, DiiV, The Joy Formidable, Fitz and the Tantrums with Dickies


Cedar Street – Mikhael Paskalev, Heyerdahl, Young Dreams, IO Echo, San Cisco, K.I.D.S, Wildcat! Wildcat! Surfer Blood with American Rag
Clive Bar – Thee Oh Sees, Natural Child, Nobunny, Papa, Summer Twins with Brixton
Lustre Pearl – Bear Mountain, Toy, Poolside, Talib Kweli with Dickies

As a creative team, Chris and I came to SXSW open to absorb everything, we saw a ton of incredible bands, hung out with super awesome people, devoured mouth-watering street tacos, celebrated our last day with beautiful hats from Brixton, jumped onto a random ‘Jambulance’ (a Van Halen themed party ambulance, only in Austin, right?), left with huge smiles on our faces and an overwhelmed imagery & ringing sound of art, culture, music, film and love, for us SXSW is about leaving a better person.  Can’t wait for next year.

Nicole Taher is a freelance writer, film editor and music supervisor based in Los Angeles, CA. Christopher Renteria (C Daniel Photog) is a freelance photographer and filmmaker based in Saint Louis, MO. Both collaborate on various music coverage.  


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