It's safe to say that SXSX is a very special place. This year was my first visit and I can genuinely say that it's not like anywhere else I've ever been before. As soon as you arrive into Austin airport, it doesn't take long to realise that this is a place steeped in musical history.
You walk down 6th Street in Downtown Austin and every place you pass has a different band playing, a different sound, a different beat, all spilling out onto the street and mixing together with the general hustle of the music loving crowd, creating a constantly evolving backing track which is never the same from minute to minute.
It's a celebration of music that rewards those who do their research before they get there, looking up their favourite artists and checking out acts they may have heard about but not yet seen; but it's also the sort of place that rewards those who don't, those who stumble from door to door without any sort of plan only to happen-upon their new favourite act without really meaning to.
I saw some great shows including Counting Crows play at set full of the old classics in a park across the river with the lights of the city as a glorious backdrop. Another highlight was an exceptional performance I saw in a church from a guy called Andy McKee who is an incredibly talented finger picking acoustic guitar player... No vocals but filled with blistering melody.
I also stumbled across some incredible new music, most notably of which was a band from Austin called The Rocket Boys who fell somewhere in the middle of Death Cab For Cutie and Fleet Foxes.
Playing this festival was a real honour. It's been something that I've wanted to do for a long time and to finally get out to Texas and do it was amazing. I had a couple of great showcases, played some really intimate sets, met loads of really cool people and saw some pretty crazy things. It's all just part of the SXSW experience though, and it's an experience I will remember for a very long time.
Charlie Simpson's new EP Farmer & His Gun is released 25 March. To pre-order from iTunes, go here and you can catch him out on tour right now performing tracks from his debut solo album, Young Pilgrim.
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