South by Southwest (SXSW) is a mixture of film, interactive and music festivals, held annually in Austin, Texas. Beginning in 1987, SXSW has continued to prosper and expand rapidly. The Music festival, which started today (March 17), is meant to help individuals discover new music, not difficult considering you spend the week wading through over 2,000 bands. With over 100 venues, SXSW Music is the largest festival of its kind. The festival started out with less than 700 registrants in 1987 but as the time has flown past, the registrant count has now reached over 28,000. The only down side to the event for the acts is that they do have to pay for their own expenses and lodgings while at the event. However, there is a cash sum offered to bands and solo acts in reward for coming down to stay and play.
Blessing SXSW with both their musical talents and dishevelled good looks, Jukebox the Ghost is set to play at 9:50PM tonight at Bungalow. The trio from Brooklyn, New York, have precisely planned how to make their gig a show stopper considering they have to compete with the other 149 shows they play each year. Many fans are hoping that the band play singles such as “Show Me Where It Hurts” and “Undeniable You” from their 2014 self-titled album. The trio met in university in Washington D.C. in 2003, gathered together and decided to form a rock/indie band, naming themselves ‘The Sunday Mail’. Two years later, when they had created enough material, they transformed into Jukebox the Ghost, the name came from two places; ‘Jukebox’ formed from a Captain Beefheart song and ‘Ghost’ gathered from a Nabokov Novel.
In 2008 the band released their first album, Let Live and Let Ghosts. During the recording, the drummer, Jesse Kristin, suffered from tendonitis, but even with this hindrance, the album received immense praise claiming it to be a “refreshing reminder that the lighthearted electricity of a fantastic pop song is still filled with live wires“. 2010 marked a major milestone for the band, as they appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, propelling the band into new levels they could never expect.
Two years later, Jukebox the Ghost released their third album, Safe Travels. The album favoured more personal lyrics with Ben Thornewill, vocalist and keyboard player, stating that “this record has a lot of songs that are directly from our own life experience. Whether they are journalistically accurate or not, probably not, but they come from something in our lives, not something we’re imagining”. Less than a year ago, “The Great Unknown” was released from their self-titled fourth album which was released on October 21. The album has received great, overwhelming responses both from fans and music professionals. This album has brought them to the top, a slow and steady race, but worth all the long term efforts the boys have put into their albums.
Catfish and The Bottlemen are also due to perform at the festival tonight at midnight at Latitude 30. The Welsh rock band was formed in Llandudno, North Wales – Van McCann, lead singer of the band, was born in Australia from last-resort IVF treatment, and moved to Wales as a child. McCann suffered a deprived childhood, sleeping in linen closets due to the lack of space in his parents B&B, and in 2010 he started a band with guitarist Bill Bibby, the elder brother of his best friend and bassist Benji Blakeway. They began to cover various songs of The Beatles before they wrote their own material.
Listening to their debut album The Balcony, it’s evident from their sound that The Beatles, Feeder and The Cribs were big influences on their individual music tastes. The band played in car parks before concerts by well-known artists, such as Kasabian, to promote themselves. In 2013 the Welsh lads were signed to Communion Records and released “Homesick”, “Rango” and “Pacifier”, all receiving a tidal wave of compliments and acclaim. The band then switched labels to join Island Records the next year to release their debut album and the biggest selling single to date “Kathleen”.
More information about the Jukebox The Ghost gig at Bungalow can be found here, click here for more information about Catfish And The Bottlemen’s gig at Latitude 30, while the order of gigs scheduled for SXSW over the next few days can be found here. As an avid music fan myself, I recommend taking time to explore any of the bands playing. Even with the immensity of the festival, there are still so many unknown bands that deserve a lot more recognition than they’re receiving.
Words by Meg Benbow // Edited by Ayo Adepoju