Showcase brings Bay Area grooves to Austin 

Bay Area bands stormed through town to play the first official "San Francisco X South by Southwest: San Francisco Comes to Austin" showcase, gaining new fans, promoting their music and attracting a wider audience.

The event, on Friday at the downtown club Spiro’s, grew out of a need to promote the Bay Area’s thriving music scene. San Francisco-based Talking House Productions founder John Paulsen said he was frustrated by the industry associating The City with Jefferson Airplane. He wanted to highlight the lyrics being written, the type of music being created and the support among bands on the local scene.

For more than four hours, bands performed both old and new songs. Honeycut brought its blend of funk, rock and electro to the stage. Lead singer Bart Davenport, sporting shades and a leather jacket, dazzled through songs such as "Impeach the President."

Oakland’s The Lovemakers drew crowds with their electro-dance songs, including the bass-heavy "Dance."

The Lovemakers’ Lisa Light joked during the set that their appearance marked the band’s "fourth time coming to Austin to get famous," before playing new tracks off their second album, which is coming out soon.

San Francisco’s Scissors for Lefty ended the showcase with a short set of fun, smartly-written pop songs that made the crowd ask for more.

Scissors for Lefty singer Bryan Garza said playing the local showcase was special and allowed the band to reach new fans.

"I felt like we were playing in our hometown with new scenery and familiar faces," he said of the band’s second trip to the annual festival. "It made us feel like we were part of a small culture."

While the band didn’t come to shop for record labels or management companies, the event was another opportunity to build on a movement with other artists.

Light of The Lovemakers said she enjoyed the "pro-San Francisco" environment, as well as the fact that the event helped the band reach some new fans.

"Everything’s aninch toward where you’d like to go next," she said.

Marketing director Matthew Johnson of San Francisco-based Birdman Records agreed the exposure can help slightly. But he feels local bands are better off playing locally because the Texas showcase is inundated with artists.

"I think it’ll help bands gain a lot of camaraderie," Johnson said. "San Francisco is a very incestuous place. It’s a huge family ... it’s important to build the friendship."

Paulsen said the event’s success means another Bay Area showcase at SXSW will occur next year.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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