The 8th annual South By So What Festival which took place in Grand Prairie, Texas, definitely shows its uniqueness as it continues to grow from year to year. Could you believe it’s already been eight years? There is literally a rock band for everybody as the three day trek boasting over a 100 musical acts had you discovering news acts as well as enjoying the well established ones as well. It felt like a living version of my Spotify playist with so many variations of genres that melted into each other and some that had nothing to do with each other at all. I had attended SXSW last year which had an unfortunate bout with some bad weather that ended up cancelling the last day. With the snow that the northeast was getting, I was looking forward to some warmer weather and music.
So about that weather… The first day was a bit rainy to say the least, but this did not deter fans and bands alike from staying the whole day. What you had to get used to were the set times that were usually staggered about ten minutes apart from each other. It kept you on your toes to try to catch each band, but you definitely got a sense of how each band was. Earlier in the day, there were some impressive sets from Courage My Love, Chon, frnkiero and the cellabration, and He Is Legend. During The Maine‘s set, the band had a little fun with some of the sound difficulties brought on by the rain. Later in the night, you had Cartel playing their album that recently turned ten, Chroma in its entirety along with Hawthorne Heights who played The Silence In Black And White. Mayday Parade and Circa Survive closed out night one in impressive fashion.
The second day gave us a reprieve from the rain. Only some slight showers this time around. This day was really strong particularly in the middle of the grouping. Just take a look at the bands you had; Vanna, Beartooth, Dance Gavin Dance; Enter Shikari; For Today, and Chiodos. Yes, it was that deep. Some highlights included Enter Shikari front man Rou Reynolds taking his mic stand into the crowd and singing “Gandhi Mate, Gandhi” while the crowd carried him back and forth. There was a lot of interaction between bands and fans this day. Crown The Empire played a set where the lighting that they used was only enhanced by the showers that came. Motionless In White played one of their biggest headlining crowds that night that was complete with pyro and a Rammstein “Du Hast” cover.
With a festival as good as this one, you usually dread the last day. A lot of friends are made and a lot of music discovered as well. In “save the best for last” fashion, the sun came out to make for a beautiful day three, but the music was far more brutal than that. You had bands like Carnifex, Veil of Maya, Chelsea Grin, and Norma Jean just to name a few. Power Trip came out and threw cheerios and champagne into the crowd. Upon A Burning Body warmed up the night that would conclude with Suicide Silence, Hatebreed, and a recently reunited Atreyu.
With a possible expansion on the horizon for 2016, it only looks like South By So What is only getting bigger. It’s no longer looked at as that “other” festival, but an entity that stands alone and offers it’s on unique experience. Will I be back next year? Absolutely. I’m sure my iPod will thank me for it on the flight home as well.