I’m at a hotel, standing by a friendly man and typing this up on the hotel’s guest computer. A sign tells me I only have 15 minutes before I am being rude and should allow others to use this computer.
I wanted to utilize that time to explain a beautiful event that took place today. After a handful of stresses in planning, practicing, promoting, and traveling to Austin for SXSW, we finally made it. It is easy to become cynical as a result of the media and promotional blitz that follows a band leading up to this event. Our email is flooded and our socks are dirty. There is an onslaught of people trying to sell you the Next Big Thing, trying to plant their product in the masses and then photograph it and tweet it and put it on their website. It tastes bad, and requires a few drinks to get the taste out of your mouth. Then, there is also the coordination race. Set times, travel plans, parking, credential pickups, RSVPs, meeting with friends, meeting with industry types, making a spreadsheet, forgetting the spreadsheet, and losing your phone charger. All of it becomes overwhelming to me.
Then, suddenly, when we aren’t even expecting it, we discover why we are all here: beautiful, beautiful music. The magical power of performance. The delicious sounds of discovery. The force of a kick drum/bass line/guitar solo/falsetto shriek, all of that coming together. Today we all stopped thinking of anything but the excellent sounds from the stage at an Austin legend: Emo’s. A band traveled all the way to Austin from Melbourne, Australia. They arrived in red shoes and took the stage as I finished restringing my guitar. Engaged with my own errands, I wasn’t listening to the band at first. The Spinto Band was parking the van, setting up the drums, getting some beers, and looking for the stage manager. Then, this band overtook everything else. We were all smiling ear to ear as a band owned the stage at 2:30 in the afternoon on Tuesday I guess I should mention, the band is called The Vaudeville Smash and they truly owned it. They took it to the hoop. It sounds silly, but they cut our heads off. They danced, they rocked, they had the indescribable magic every concert-goer knows and yearns for every time they purchase a ticket to a live music event.
After their short set, they broke down their gear and another band took the stage. That is the beauty of this week. SXSW isn’t about standing in lines or sneering at all the assholes profiting off rock bands or trying to get free tote bags. It is about music and musicians and the power they carry. I am resisting every urge in my typing fingers to write a Star Wars metaphor. Discovering music is an experience that is enjoyed universally. Here in Austin, over the next week, there are so many opportunities to discover music; everyone in The Spinto Band is rejuvenated and ready to hit the pavement and find another dozen Vaudeville Smash moments.
Thank you, Vaudeville Smash, and your Doobie-Brothers-/Journey-/Thin-Lizzy-/Quincy-Jones-inspired sounds for breathing new life into my ears and making me so, so excited for the rest of the week. —Jon Eaton