Home Musician San Antonio Musicians Reveal Their Excitement About Returning to the Stage at SXSW

San Antonio Musicians Reveal Their Excitement About Returning to the Stage at SXSW

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For the first time in three years, musicians are performing at SXSW. As the Austin festival skyrocketed over the past decade, SXSW began to feel like it wasn’t made for the kinds of indie bands that had once won fans and gig deals. record through their performances.

But absence can make the heart grow fonder. While live music all but died out after March 2020, the musicians I spoke with were excited to be back on stage at SXSW. They didn’t feel particularly jaded by the size or scope of the festival, they were ready to play.

Chris Conde

Chris Conde, the queer Latinx rapper from San Antonio — now based in Austin until he moved to Brooklyn in April — has been playing SXSW shows for about a decade. He remembers it really clicked for him in 2016, when he opened for Bushwick Bill, MC of Houston legends The Geto Boys.


“He told me that as a gay rapper what I was doing was awesome,” Conde said. “And that living my life and rapping about it was what was happening, basically. I did so much cool stuff, just like here.”

Conde has seven shows at SXSW this season, which he will perform each night after working until around 7 p.m. Even though it’s tiring, he sees the benefits of getting out every year and doing his thing.

“There are ups and downs for (SXSW),” Conde says. “But I think it’s mostly beneficial. Even if you don’t have a bracelet, even if you don’t have a badge, if you’re passionate about new music and new art or if you’re an artist who try to get out there and become more famous, you absolutely have to be here.”

Although he is moving to New York soon, Conde says he will always come back to play SXSW.

Chris Stokes

Conde also sees this as a send-off before leaving Texas.

The musician claire rousay will perform

Musician claire rousay will perform “Faulty”, a structured solo percussion piece exploring transgender identity and self-perception, at Luminaria 2019.

Soothsayer De Leon

“Those will be my last shows before I leave. So that’s part of that,” he says.

He also sees how excited fans are for the return of live music.

“People are hungry,” Conde said. “I think the one thing that’s been beneficial about the pandemic — it was a nightmare — is that it taught people the value of live music.”

Like many other SXSW veterans, he does not play everything that is offered to him. With the cache he has earned, he can be selective.

“You know what, I’m not gonna take $100, or I’m not gonna take $50 and a [expletive] drink ticket,” Conde says. “Like, I’m worth that much.”

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Either way, if you’re trying to be a full-time musician, Conde says it’s absolutely imperative that you get to Austin during SXSW, even though everyone says it’s too big or too much. marked in 2022.

“I tell my artist friends, just come during the week, sleep on somebody’s couch. Just hang out, even if you don’t have shows,” he says. “Even if you’re not official, it’s all about finding out what’s going on, so not only is it being able to play in front of new people, but also networking and then finding out what’s going on.”

Despite the chaos, he says he will return to SXSW even though he no longer lives nearby.

“It’s a shitshow, you know,” he said, “but it’s a great shitshow.”

AUSTIN, TX – MARCH 11: Andrew Cashen of Sweet Spirit performs onstage at The Onion AV Club event during the 2019 SXSW Conference & Festivals at Mohawk Outdoor on March 11, 2019 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW)

AUSTIN, TX – MARCH 11: Andrew Cashen of Sweet Spirit performs onstage at The Onion AV Club event during the 2019 SXSW Conference & Festivals at Mohawk Outdoor on March 11, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW)

Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW

Andrew Cashen of Sweet Spirit and A Giant Dog

“You’re not going to be signed, I’ll tell you,” said guitarist Andrew Cashen. “I think it happened in the 90s.”

In 2006, a friend from Spring, outside of Houston, where Cashen grew up, went to SXSW during spring break. He returned, regaling Cashen with stories of uninterrupted performances for days. An endless party.

“And that’s kind of what made me move to Austin,” he says.

Cashen moved to Austin in 2008 and since then has played over 20 shows each year with his bands A Giant Dog, Sweet Spirit, Tear Dungeon and his solo project.

He remembers sleeping under a pinball machine in Beerland once. They had a late night and he had to be back at the old venue early the next morning for another show.

“We played a show at two in the morning the night before, and it was in the middle of the south and I was just exhausted,” he says. “I look at this now, and I’m just like, ‘How…how did I do that?'”

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Now a seasoned veteran, he has pared down his schedule to 10 shows in total between the four bands. In previous years, he played anything.

“The only reason I would feel like we had to do so were for monetary reasons,” Cashen says with a smile. “I’m not going to name the ones that are money situations, where it’s just like, yeah, we would normally never play there. But we get paid quite a bit of money to do it. We’re saving it for the tour.”

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 11: (L-R) Andrew Cashen, Jake Knight and Sabrina Ellis of Sweet Spirit perform onstage at the Onion AV Club event during the 2019 SXSW Conference & Festivals at Mohawk Outdoor on March 11, 2019 in Austin , Texas.  (Photo by Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW)

AUSTIN, TX – MARCH 11: (L-R) Andrew Cashen, Jake Knight and Sabrina Ellis of Sweet Spirit perform onstage at the Onion AV Club event during the 2019 SXSW Conference & Festivals at Mohawk Outdoor on March 11, 2019 in Austin , Texas. (Photo by Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW)

Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW

Cashen says that while the bands won’t get million-dollar contracts, he still sees the benefit of playing after all these years. You meet promoters, venue owners and other music industry contacts during the week.

“One of them could be the right show at the right time,” he says.

Plus, it can be a great way to gain new fans.

He remembers playing the patio at Beerland one year and having access to over 10,000 people who came by, some of whom he says were “famous people who started posting about the episode”. They distributed burned CDs, which traveled around the world once people left Austin to return home.

“I remember talking to someone eight years later and they were like, ‘I still have that burnt CD of A Giant Dog, man. He got stuck in my truck,” Cashen said. “That guy was from Europe.”

Claire Rousay, musician from San Antonio.

Claire Rousay, musician from San Antonio.

courtesy of Claire Rousay

Claire Rousay

Claire Rousay, a background musician from San Antonio, says the festival asked her to perform this year, rather than submit her music.

“I obviously said yes, because I wasn’t really asked to do anything on that level,” she says. “A lot of the stuff I’ve done has been like squealing on a DIY level, or hoping someone reaches out and pulls you in with them.”

Rousay is used to playing SXSW in indie rock bands, partying and having someone lead the band from show to show. This year it’s just her and her little setup for her solo career, which took off last year.

“I guess this time around, because I represent myself, it’s a little less about, yeah, go have fun, and it’s more like, really just trying to do what I do to the best of my ability. abilities, given the madness,” she says. “And I’m sure of the crazy circumstances there will be in South By after they haven’t happened for a few years.”

Claire Rousay is thrilled to be performing for Texas audiences again.

Claire Rousay is thrilled to be performing for Texas audiences again.

courtesy of Claire Rousay

SXSW allows musicians to choose professional connections to establish on their official band pages. Rousay put on “Gear Endorsement”, – she says she needs guitar strings and microphones etc. – “Other artists to tour with” and, because who doesn’t need it, “Brand partnerships”.

“I’m down,” she said. “I mean, Topo Chico rocks. Or Coca-Cola at this point?”

But mostly, she’s just excited to play. The other substance is a by-product.

“From a career perspective, I don’t really know if there’s much to be gained from doing something like this just because it’s an overload of so many different things, is there?” she says. “There’s a billion people playing. It’s kind of hard to have a concrete goal and go into this thing and say, ‘I’m going to connect with this person. “”

Instead, Rousay says, she wants to connect with her audience. She hasn’t played many shows in Texas recently, so she’s excited to play for a local crowd.

“It kind of sounds like a woo-woo response or hippie-trippy vibes, but I feel like the reason I play shows to begin with is just to connect with the people who are at the show. I’m so happy to play music for someone who walks into a room to listen,” she says. “That’s really the reason to do it anyway. If I become a billionaire thanks to an NFT, that’s not so bad either.”