The San Antonio community didn’t have to leave the comfort of the surrounding downtown area to catch a slew of great performances from both local and out-of-town musicians. Many locals opted to stay on home turf rather than heading up I-35 to brave the anarchy that is South by Southwest taking place in Austin.
Instead of waiting in traffic and walking through seas of people only to spend half the time in line for some event already over capacity; all one had to do in San Antonio was patiently wait for the pot to boil over in Austin – and so it was, for many, one of the greatest weekends of music in San Antonio.
The music-fueled weekend started slow and early on Thursday with South by Southtown’s (SXST) kick off at Southtown 101 that included a major constituent of the talent in San Antonio’s music scene. It was a chance to bask in the undeniable bond between food trucks and music events, catch Austin native indie band, Megafauna and experimental Rhode Island band, Roz & the Rice Cakes. It was also the opportunity to see the art exhibition at the R Gallery by artists Ruben Luna, Daniel Guerrero, and Ingrid Mejia all in which incorporate their lives within the boundaries of Latino culture.
On Friday, South by Southtown had the same, gradual pace because of rainy weather. A great collection of local musicians are on the bill for the mini music festival at Southtown 101, and the admission fee of a four day pass, which includes three free drinks, is a reasonable $20.
South by Southtown is fundamentally along the lines of what music conglomerate South by Southwest started off as years ago; a music event that showcased local bands as well as some outside entities. Even though it’s in its first year, South by Southtown has the potential to become something great and perhaps become a magnet to pull in more acts and reach the status of a music festival. Circumstance and timing were fighting against the odds, but early stages are best used for trial and error.
However, as Friday evening progressed and the weekend officially started for those who weren’t on Spring Break, suitors that came in eventually turned into a crowd. There was a healthy amount of spectators cheering on all-girl trio from New York, Jane Lee Hooker while eagerly waiting for The Hares to take the stage.
Meanwhile at the Paper Tiger, which officially opened its doors to the public at 2 p.m. on Friday, had a solid turn out and, operationally, things seemed to go smoothly despite some regulation discrepancies that still needed to be hammered out (we’ll get to that). People walked in and smiled at the nostalgia of a recognizable location as they nodded at the sound quality and exterior improvements of the formerly royal blue building.
Los Angeles-based experimental rock band Snow Wite was the first to play on the new small stage that was once White Rabbit’s green room, one of the more obvious changes to the new venue. The smaller stage was used for heavier music such as local hardcore band, Spokesmodel and thrasher two piece from Austin, Burnt Skull, whose music reverberated through the freshly-painted concrete walls.
The crowd, along with the rain, trickled in around 5 p.m. and though the crowd was lively and heavy, there was never a long wait to get in the Paper Tiger. When King Tuff started playing there was a small crowd, and by the middle of his set, the audience had doubled.
Though the Paper Tiger is officially open, there are still a few elements that need to be completed such as the bathrooms. Instead, Porta Potties were on hand, which caused a snag with Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission regulations. In laymen’s terms, regulations state that if Porta Potties are on location, a full bar can’t be open. So while the main bar on the inside was being partially used to sell merchandise for bands such as The Spits, there was a convenient bar tent set up outside for patrons to quench their thirst.
Chad Carey, owner of the new venue said it would take about four weeks before all the pending renovations would be compete.
Friday was just a taste of what this weekend ensues. South by Southtown continues on Saturday at Southtown 101 with performances by Lonely Horse, Femina X, and Los de Esta Noche until 11 p.m. and will continue until Sunday when bands like Dawn of the Phoenix, Over the Top, and Islands and Tigers will be playing.
Some bands playing on Saturday at the Paper Tiger include Roky Erickson from the 13th Floors and Flower Jesus. The grand opening ends on Sunday, March 22 with performances by Ryan Hemsworth and Skylar Spence, formally known as St. Pepsi.
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Just when you think things would be losing steam by Sunday, Burger Records kicks off Hangover Fest III at 3 p.m. at The Korova with performances by bands like The Bolos, The Lemons, Meatbodies, Thee Oh Sees, and Wax Witches. Hangover Fest will continue until Monday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. with music from Diarrhea Planet, Bad Vibes, and the Coathangers.
Good things come to those who wait, and in this case, it’s all the best music without all of the chaos.
*Featured/top image: The Spits performing for the rowdiest crowd of the night. Photo by Alyssa Bunting.