SXSW 2014: A Virgin's Guide Part Three

We woke up unsurprisingly with a pretty decent hangover. Late night wandering meant that our already flu-damaged voices were even more ragged. SXSW was really beginning to take it's toll. The upside is that we had been invited to go to the elusive Ray Ban House.

For our first SXSW blog click here.

For the second click here.

We woke up unsurprisingly with a pretty decent hangover. Late night wandering meant that our already flu-damaged voices were even more ragged. SXSW was really beginning to take it's toll. The upside is that we had been invited to go to the elusive Ray Ban House. There are these 'houses' set up all over the festival, usually a little out from the centre. All types of companies will set up in bars, coffee shops, or venues and then invite bands to come to see them for some freebies. It's obviously a big promotional tool, and the Ray Ban invite is, so I'm told, one of the harder to come by.

We arrive just before our appointment time of 12 noon. The address had been kept a strict secret, with the exact details only being forwarded to us a few hours before. We're given a wristband on arrival, and head on in. The place is, predictably, cool as hell. We get the freedom of a rack of Ray Ban's, picking a pair each. There's also a free bar (a common proponent of SXSW it seems), awesome breakfast tacos, a barber, and tattooist. Vinnie the barber gives us all a trim, whilst Ally (manager) get's a Hot Water Music Tattoo from Mika. Vinnie owns his own place in LA, and get's flown in for SXSW every year. He has the barber-chair-chat down to a fine art, and the next hour or so flies by. He tells me that Ray Ban have been using the same team for the last 5 years or so, travelling in from all over (Mika is from Philadelphia). It seems like SXSW has turned into a bit of a summer camp for them, catching up on what they've all been up to in the time between festivals. We've all toyed with the idea of getting a Prides tattoo, but stick to just the haircut for now. Maybe after we sell a few more records...

The Convention Centre Balcony

It would be nice to chill out with Mr. Ray Ban all day, but we're recording another session across town so we jump in the car and head back to the Filter/Doc Martin venue which we had played the day before. The session is accompanied by an interview based around Doc Martin's slogan 'What Do You Stand For'. That, paired with our creeping hangovers, and the start of colder weather, means for rather a sombre interview. At least for us. The worries of lost voices ruining the session are ill-founded and it turns out really well.

We're back over in Latitude 30 for the British Embassy Showcase, arriving half way through our pals Thumpers. They've played 10 shows this week, and I think we've managed to see most of them. We're big fans, and they sound excellent as always. We're up next, and it turns out to be one of the best shows of the week for us. Another full room, and everyone is really responsive. It's nice chatting to people afterwards who have happened to see us at one of the other shows, and come to check us out again. It seems odd, but a lot of people come up to us afterwards to thank us for playing. People often come up to us afterwards and say that they've enjoyed it, or ask us questions, but so far only Texans have consistently said thank you. They really are 'The Friendly State'.

Prides in Austin

We try to give our shattered bodies a break, and end our day with a Band meeting in Hoovers, who pride themselves on Southern Home Cooking. It's brilliant. The boys ask for so much food that they each get a tray instead of a plate. I opt for some southern fried pork chops with Caribbean rice and mustard greens. Meatloaf, fried Okra and Catfish take over the table. It's joyous. Our server makes jokes and brings us hot water and honey for our croaky voices, and we drink pitchers of sweet tea and talk business before heading home to prepare for our final day in Austin.

As Callum said in Part Two, Honeyblood have joined us at Robin's house. They're a two-piece band from Glasgow made up of Stina and Shona, and accompanied by their Mr. Soundlady Rachael. We've nicknamed her 'Front-of', because she's their front of house. We really do crack ourselves up. This morning they have a photo shoot with the NME and their preparation before the shoot really puts any effort we put into our appearance to shame. They've just finished up a US tour with fellow Scots We Were Promised Jetpacks, and the shoot is the last hurdle before they're officially done. We've become an odd extended family, Robin the supportive mum, her four hoarse sons drinking coffee round the breakfast counter, three affable sisters all trying to get through the bathroom.

Ally trying to out-America us all by eating a burger whilst fuelling the car

We had great plans for the day; to trawl the festival for freebies, find the best bars and visit the 'Game of Thrones' exhibition. We managed none of them. I'm especially upset about not seeing the GoT exhibition, as there was a replica of the iron throne you could sit in. That would have been my profile pic for at least a year. AT LEAST. Alas, it wasn't to be. Instead we head over for our last show of the festival, at Jen Long's showcase. The weather has officially broken, the rain is coming in, and the stage is out the back. Threat of electrocution is high. The PA blows in the second song. It's a great atmosphere though, and everyone laughs it off, and the rest of the set is brilliant. Lots of people come in off the street to check it out, and the bar is serving free Sailor Jerry's (more free booze), the rain holding off long enough for people to have a dance.

Which means we did it. We survived SXSW. We filled our evening watching We Were Promised Jetpacks on the roof of Whole Foods (a seriously up market venue with all sorts of coconut water, organic BBQ, and couples with dogs) before wandering down to watch Childish Gambino headline Butler Park. I had no idea there were such big stages at SXSW, being far more familiar with the struggles of our peers in the 'breaking bands' category, but here it was, 20,000 people in a field, proper festival stuff. We finished our night with The 1975 in Stubbs courtyard, which was great. There was another band there (naming no names) having what I can only describe as an incredibly hilarious tiff. I often wonder if people spot us and enjoy peeking behind the curtain. Someone once tweeted me saying they'd spotted me, neon-paint-faced, on the shoulders of a friend in the middle of the Belladrum Festival crowd, whisky bottle in hand. I think I tore down the curtain on that occasion.

Our Stateside adventure doesn't end here, with two weeks on tour with RAC, traversing the east coast before we close out at the Webster Hall in New York, but with SXSW under our belts, the rest should be a cinch. Right?


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