A trio of Madison bands is gearing up for the Crustacean Records showcase next week at South By Southwest, the annual springtime music and multimedia conference held in Austin, Texas. The local independent label is presenting its inaugural showcase at the festival, which has grown over the last two decades into a massive spectacle drawing international interest and participation. Diving into this maelstrom are local rock darlings Droids Attack, The Gusto, and Screamin' Cyn Cyn & the Pons, all taking their bows along with Crustacean amidst the spectacle.
The music portion of this year's SXSW officially starts next Wednesday, March 12 and runs through Sunday, March 16. Crustacean will be holding its nighttime showcase on Thursday, March 13 at the Molotov Lounge on West Sixth Street. The three local Crustacean bands will be joined by three others for the gig; Ouija Radio and co-headliner Birthday Suits of Minneapolis, both frequent Madison visitors, and co-headliner Peelander-Z, a Japanese punk band from NYC that also regularly plays in town.
All of this was set up late last year, the result of a post-show party meeting between label co-owner Jake Shut and Hideo Takahashi of Birthday Suits about a possible collaboration with Peelander-Z. This led to the recording of a split 7" by the two headliners, and opened the doors to SXSW.
The showcase is doing double duty as a release party for the split 7", and runs six hours not counting any pre- or post-partying. The fun begins with Droids Attack (8 p.m.), followed by The Gusto (9 p.m.), Screamin' Cyn Cyn (10 p.m.), Ouija Radio (11 p.m.), Birthday Suits (12 a.m.), and Peelander-Z (1 a.m.). The show will also be captured on video by Hinckely Design, with the resulting footage to be packaged as an extra on the label's new live DVD due for release in July.
Crustacean is also participating in the 2008 Indie Village at SXSW, a space for independent record labels to present themselves directly to the music industry and their fans. Representatives from the Madison indie will be present at the trade show during scheduled times over all three days of its run from Thursday, March 13 through Saturday, March 15. "We are very honored to be invited to this year's Indie Village," noted Shut in an announcement about its participation, "and to be placed on an equal footing with some of the biggest independent labels in existence."
The Daily Page asked members of the three Crustacean bands from Madison about their thoughts on playing at SXSW and their preparations for next week's trip to Texas. Here are their comments:
- Brad Van of Droids Attack: We didn't apply to SXSW, but Jake wanted us to play so he got us added. We've done some festivals before, and we've had some good luck, particularly with NXNE up in Toronto, so we're glad for the opportunity and we're looking forward to seeing what happens.
One thing about doing festivals is that there is usually no pay, and a lot of times when you get accepted to play it's with short notice and you don't have much time to organize shows on the way there and back to help make up the travel expenses. Fortunately for us,we've played a lot of road shows this last year (around 55), so we've made some connections and we were able to nab about four shows on the way down. That should help, but gas is a bitch these days. It really eats into your earnings, so I wish we could've snagged a couple more gigs, but with hundreds of bands making their way down all at the same time it's rough. No doubt we're going to lose money on this trip, but it's still a worthwhile investment if we play our cards right.
Another thing about showcases is that there is always so much going on that it's really hard to get people interested in seeing you over several other acts playing at the same time all over town. Good promotion is crucial. I've been sending out emails, visiting message boards, and trying to reach as many people as possible online since the moment we found out we were confirmed. My resources are pretty limited, but I'm doing the best I can. We're also rolling into town the day before the show and we're going to hit the streets, meeting people, giving out CDs, passing out flyers, whatever. Hopefully it'll pay off and we'll all have a good showcase and play for some folks that will make the whole thing worthwhile. If not, then oh well. At least we'll all get to party Crustacean style down in Austin for a few days.
- Andy Roemer of The Gusto: We are very excited! It is amazing that the little guy like us can get on such a big event. We have done some thing like this before, when we did the Warped tour last summer. This is a different beast, though. With all the music industry conferences we feel this is a huge opportunity for us. It is great that Crustacean gets its own showcase. I have high hopes for the show, being that us along with many other Crustacean bands have been to Texas before. I hope that between all of us we will get a good crowd in the venue. I feel if we do, it might be able to get Crustacean and its bands on SXSW in the future.
- Shane O'Neill of Screamin' Cyn Cyn & the Pons: We're super excited about heading down to SXSW! A lot of people bitch about it, but I don't understand why. Yeah, it's crowded and there's lines and drunk people, but at the end of the day you're basically seeing at least six shows a day. And it's always exciting. The bands are all bands you've seen, or you've wanted to see, or that have been recommended to you.
I'm really excited for Crustacean that we were able to land this showcase. It was a huge stroke of luck that we got Birthday Suits and Peelander-Z on board since they have a lot bigger national recognition than we do. That being said, since people tend to only stay at a venue for one act at a time, we're still going to have to hustle pretty hard to get people out to our show. Luckily we've played Austin before and we have a couple friends we can hit up to fill out the Molotov.
GayBiGayGay, the Sunday day party we're playing is also looking pretty great. I'm particularly excited about Dynasty Handbag, Captain Ahab, Scream Club, The Hot as Shits and The Shondes.
Right now we're just trying to figure out the logistics of our drive down, what to pack, who to call and all that.
There will be a departure party and show by all three of the six Crustacean bands playing at SXSW at the east side Glass Nickel Pizza on Saturday, March 8. Screamin' Cyn Cyn & the Pons and The Gusto will be playing, along with the Minneapolitan trio Ouija Radio, with the tunes starting at 10:30 p.m. The cover is $5, with all of the money from the door going to help pay for the bands' travel costs. The label also encourages fans to show some love with additional donations or by purchasing merch to help defray expenses even more.
Crustacean is not only encouraging local music supporters to turn out for the sendoff show, but to consider a trip to Austin themselves. "We really need to pack the Molotov and have them sell liquor that night to get invited back in 2009 so every body counts," declared Shut. "Multi-task by supporting the Wisconsin music scene and having the time of your life on an incredibly fun road trip."