The streets of Austin were littered with beer cans and multi-fonted handbills. The main drag of Sixth Street was a constant battle of smells and noises from competing food trucks and music. A smoke signal of cooked meats filled the air, accompanied by a cacophony of cymbals and discordant strings and thousands of voices. Varying tones, timbres, tambourines, all making up the sounds of South By Southwest.
Music hit the tympanic membranes from every direction. Anything from a bass-heavy hip-hop beat to a bellowing tuba. People from all parts of the globe doing what they love, whether for more corporate sponsorships, an opportunity to become rich and famous, or just to be a part of the action. Walk into a bar on the main strip and you might see Jack White performing. Go into the bar next door and someone you’ve never heard of is making sounds just as beautiful (or not).
A couple blocks east of the craziness was a bustling area on its own, showcasing some of Kansas City’s finest musicians. Shangri-La was packed to the brim on Friday and Saturday nights for MidCoast Takeover, and the Kansas City area made an indelible mark on the city of Austin.
With one of the best backdrops (a 16-foot LED display) in town, a killer sound system and team, a ton of great bands and sponsorships, and a whole lot of hard work, the Midwest Music Foundationwas able to put together a showcase that made me proud to be a Kansas Citian. With music jumping from country to synth pop to afro-beat to gritty rock and more, we showed Austin that we had creativity, range, and style.
National acts, including The Figgs, El Ten Eleven, and The Life and Times shared the stage with local favorites: Lez Izmore spittin’ lyrics alongside trumpet master Hermon Mehari; Molly Picture Club, a dance-inducing synth pop trio equipped with onstage disco balls and robots; ambient, experimental rockers Everyday/Everynight; Americana roots musicians Cadillac Flambé; the 15-or-so-member group Hearts of Darkness, who closed out Friday night to a packed, jovial, hip-shaking crowd. And about 30 others. No shortage of musical diversity or attention to craft in the venue. No shortage of interested friends and strangers uniting. No shortage of dancing or smiling.
It’s nice to feel united with those who share that love and have amazing, individual ways of displaying their souls. It means something to be a really, really, really tiny cog in a city full of talented people creating their personal craft out of sheer love for it. Being connected with those who share a common bond of the affinity of music. For one reason or another, it felt more real to feel a connection while outside the city, presenting our overarching common bond to those with a quite possibly different impression of us.
By MidCoast’s end, a lot of people got the impression that Kansas City was a force to be reckoned with in the nation, at least on the musical level. The showcase was so successful it was featured in an article in USA Today (check it out right here).
At the end of Saturday night, Cherokee Rock Rifle carried out the party with a ballistic, grungy explosion of blistering melodic roars from the fist-pounding rock and roll diablo we call El Dutch. The crowd united in a different way than in the joyous optimistic tone felt when Hearts of Darkness left the stage 24 hours prior. Instead, the grungy guitars and bellowing percussive sounds drove us into an excited, happy rage. A thrilled “don’t give a fuck” attitude. A sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Huge pride and an ounce of sadness of its too-soon end. Something to get excited about. Some sustenance to take back home and share with the natives.
Thanks for reading. Support local music and the Midwest Music Foundation!