Live Music, Live Passion

Hello! My name is Amanda and I will be going to the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, TX for Senior Projects. I write for a music blog, When the Gramophone Rings, in my spare time (my posts can be found here) and I even dedicated a semester-long independent course to my blogging. In the fall, I did an Independent Seminar in English where I music blogged and researched what makes effective blog posts.

I love music and how it forces emotions upon listeners. In my opinion it’s the only art form that elicits specific emotions from audiences. One of my favorite quotations is, “[Music] has the power to command people how to feel. Imagery, words, they’re very suggestive, whereas music can command somebody how to feel on an emotional level, uncontrollably,” said by Matty Healy of The 1975. I decided to pursue SXSW because I love live music more than any other form of music. It’s much more personal than listening to music digitally, which is what we do on a day to day basis. Live music gives a space for musicians, their music, and their fans so that everyone can feel the same emotions and feel attached.

My personal goal for this project is to soak up as much music and fully live the experience since SXSW is such a unique festival. Other major music festivals like Coachella in California, Bonnaroo in Tennessee, and Glastonbury in England, are held in big open fields with multiple stages where artists play at all times of day. SXSW is different because it happens right in the heart of Austin in the hundreds of music venues that already exist in the city. These venues host showcases, which are basically like any normal concert but with about 4-5 bands playing in a night. During the day, companies and record labels host “unofficial parties” which allow companies to push their product while providing entertainment through the bands that are in Austin for the festival. Since SXSW is so different from other festivals, I want to take advantage of its set up and see as many artists as possible.

My more professional goal is to go see artists that I wouldn’t normally see and to push myself out of my comfort zone with music. I usually review similar songs (usually ambient/dark indie rock or beachy indie pop) for When the Gramophone Rings, so seizing this opportunity to really discover music will be an interesting and challenging change for me. My assignment from my editor at the site is to write something along the lines of a ‘Best Discoveries at SXSW’ piece. I think that works well with my personal goal and it will allow me to see artists I wouldn’t necessarily see if I was going to SXSW on my own, without an assignment from the blog.

One major obstacle that has come up already is that a large amount of venues for showcases and unofficial parties are 21+. I’ve had to narrow down which artists I can see since only some of them are playing venues I can get into. I thought that would limit me a lot, but after looking at the line ups for venues I can go to a little more closely, it looks like there’s a great range of smaller, unheard of bands. I don’t think any other obstacles as big as this will come my way but we shall see…

Going to SXSW is the main part of my project, but I will also be writing for the blog for the first week of Senior Projects before I go to SXSW. Since March 8th is International Women’s Day, When the Gramophone Rings will be doing a women-only week from March 7—March 13. All the female writers will be covering female artists for the whole week, no men allowed. I’m really excited to be writing for that week since I think it’s a great showcase of women in music. That will keep me busy for the first week then I’ll be off to Austin.

I’m really excited to start my project. I think that it will be a great opportunity for me to discover new music in a way that really interests me as well as a way for me to connect with artists and write about what I enjoyed at the festival. The women’s week will be really neat to watch unfold since there’s a ton of women getting involved, both writers and musicians. Writing for this Westtown blog will also help me process what I’m seeing and give me a way to reflect on what I see and do. T minus 16 days to Austin!


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