Etheredge thanks Craigslist for the formation of his band over the last few years. It’s literally how he and his fellow band members met. They each like a different genre of music, with influences coming from Texas indie post-rock bands such as Explosions in the Sky and This Will Destroy You. Etheredge likes listening to heavy metal while the others enjoy punk. They each became a musician in a different way and time.
“But with all of our different backgrounds, our music together was coming into focus,” said Etheredge. With a new self-titled sophomore record coming out this spring, Bright Like the Sun learned much from its performance at SXSW last year, but has a slightly different perspective and mission this time around. Some observers feel the annual convergence of music, film, and technology has become too commercial, but Etheredge said musicians such as he and his bandmates can still derive benefits from the Austin event.
“Having performed before, I can totally see the commercial aspect,” he said. “I think bands who get to play South by Southwest should dig underneath all that to explore the opportunities that are there.”
According to Etheridge, some up-and-coming musicians perceive SXSW in a flawed way.
“I think too many bands think to themselves, ‘I’m going to perform, get someone’s attention and I’ll become a success and that’s it,’” Etheredge said. “That’s wrong.”
In this week’s performance in Austin, Etheredge said he’ll enjoy performing with Bright Like the Sun, but will also have fun watching other rising bands and some established favorite acts, treating the event more as a music fan this year.
San Antonio-area native Steph Prost, a DJ/producer, and singer, Amanda Maze, make up Stash, an electronic/dance duo. They have original songs but also play at parties, such as ones held last weekend on the rooftop of the Contemporary Austin Art Museum.
Steph’s mother, Deb Prost – also Stash’s promoter – worked the room at one party Friday night, with a handful of business cards from music industrialists from around the country. Stash has more appearances at SXSW this week and, even while using social media to promote their original new tracks, networking on their behalf is ever present at their performances.
Networking is going to be something the local hip hop group, Third Root, will do at SXSW while in town for a scheduled performance. The project consists of Charles Peters (Easy Lee of MoJoe), Marco Cervantes, and DJ Chicken George. Third Root has been around a few years, resulting from each of the members simply crossing paths in the local hip-hop/urban/DJ scene.
Third Root performed at an official SXSW showcase with MoJoe in 2011, and has performed there the previous two years. In these past few years, Third Root has released music that reflects the members’ socially conscious attitudes. Cervantes and Peters are both educators.
“For me, we try to project who we are right now,” Cervantes said. “What we’re talking about is our experiences in politics, institutions, love, struggles. It all sounds like poetry.”
Cervantes said, for him, the prior SXSW experiences allowed him to see both rising and established bands.
“I went in first as a music fan, but lately we’ve developed a network of people in the industry I’ll get to see again, and maybe work with later,” he said.
Cervantes acknowledged the criticism some people have for SXSW and commercialism, but added it’s a middle ground for area musicians who are gaining increasing visibility.
“It’s a growing community with great MCs, great DJs, beatmakers, graffiti artists, and dancers,” Cervantes said of San Antonio’s urban/hip-hop market.
He’s excited for the plethora of unofficial SXSW shows in Austin, and spillover shows in San Antonio, that will showcase even more area musicians from this expanding genre.
“Even unofficial shows are great because that’s a different, ready audience,” he added.
*Featured/top image: Bright Like the Sun, a post-rock band from San Antonio, has an official performance at the SXSW music conference this week on March 18 at The Hideout.