At SXSW, with hundreds of bands, singer / songwriters, DJ / producers, playing across the city, I was reminded of why record labels are important. You need them for the curation and aggregation of the music. Otherwise, in a sea of music, there are less avenues to find a good group of similar artists you may like. Last year at the Bandwidth Conference in San Francisco, we heard music industry luminary and Elektra Records founder, Jac Holzman, opine on the importance of labels as curators (watch video here).
I attended many record label showcases at SXSW 2011 that proved this point -- including two showcases enabled by Cisco Eos: The Killers Lasers Papers showcase which was hip hop / R&B focused (link to our review), and the primarily indie rock driven Chop Shop Records / Atlantic Records SXSW Party.
If you are reading this post before March 27th and you register at several of the artist sites of the bands who played the Chop Shop / Atlantic showcase including -- kittentheband.com, scarson45.com, republictigers.com, thejoyformidable.com -- you’ll be entered to win a custom designed Flip MinoHD™. The custom artwork on the Flip reflects the talents of Portugal The Man lead singer, John Gourley, who created the painting for the showcase poster.
I had not heard any of the Chop Shop Records bands before the event, and I was pleasantly surprised once the showcase got going. All the bands put on monster performances. I thought to myself again, “great curation at work”. The showcase started off with Kitten The Band, led by vocalist / guitarist Chloe Chaidez. Chloe was thrashing about during the 5 song set with a powerful voice and a confident stage presence. The music reminded me of early years of The Cure.
When Chloe of Kitten got off stage, I got to talk with her briefly about how she uses social media to connect with fans. The Atlantic Records team kindly let me know she’s only 16 years old. You would need to get up close to the stage to even guess Chloe’s age because she performs so confidently, yet sure enough she’s a soft spoken fresh faced teen when not singing. Each of the bands I talked with during the showcase have a specific social media channel that they like to use as their primary means of communication with fans. Chloe of Kitten’s social media platform of choice to talk to fans is Facebook; I guess like you would expect of a teenage girl. John Gourley of Portugal The Man emphasized he’s all about Twitter. For the U.K.’s Scars on 45, video blogging is the primary way they communicate to fans. In the clip, they talk about the video they shoot and other methods they use to communicate with fans, including via their Cisco Eos powered web site -- Scarson45.com.
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Scars on 45 played more of a style of roots rock music versus Kitten’s emo pop. I really enjoyed their heartfelt performance of the somewhat lilting song “Gimme Something”. Chop Shop Records founder Alexandra Patsavas is known for her skill of curating good music to go with today’s top television shows. So it’s not surprising Scars on 45 first received attention in the U.S. when Patsavas placed the band’s song “Beauty’s Running Wild” in a closing scene of an episode CSI: NY. You can read more about Patasavas’ talents in placing music with television programming and films here on the Chop Shop site. While I enjoyed Scars on 45′s performance at the showcase, the band shared with me how social media sometimes magnifies the bad performances:
At SXSW, you can’t catch every band or you will wither away into nothingness. I missed out on most of The Republic Tigers performance while chatting with Scars on 45. Next up was at the showcase was The Joy Formidable, a trio led by vocalist / guitarist Ritzy Bryan. While Ritzy’s vocals are very bright, the sound of the band is heavy and fast. You can hear that sound come through on their new album which is aptly titled “The Big Roar”. There was a brief opportunity to talk with Ritzy and the band’s drummer Matt Thomas. While Scars on 45 shared me with that they are sometimes hesitant about fan generated videos because of fears of capturing an “off gig”, Ritzy says they love to see the fan videos, especially when they turn up on their web site, TheJoyFormidable.com.
Portugal The Man wrapped up the Chop Shop Records / Atlantic Records SXSW Party with a super soulful set of about 6 songs. I would describe their music as mix of blues rock and even funk. A wikipedia entry describes the band as a “jam band”. Their first song at the showcase went over 10 minutes, and the band enveloped themselves a wave of heavy fog and special lighting. I really enjoyed watching Portugal The Man’s keyboardist as he circled himself in a rig of about ten keyboards including old school organs and vintage synthesizers. I was so close to the stage speakers that my Flip videos of the band didn’t turn out so great, but you can check out this SXSW 2011 video of the group performing at the IFC Crossroads House.
I did capture some showcase video of the talented Chloe Chaidez of Kitten The Band slowing it down a bit at the beginning of the showcase. Check out her talents:
Let us know in the comments section below if you were at the showcase and have any other thoughts or if you agree / disagree with the bands thoughts on how the connect with fans via social media.
Here is a slideshow from the showcase: