SXSW 2014 MARCH 2014

Outside The Mohawk on Red River St. in Austin Texas, things are completely silent. Silent despite the fact that a block over, on Sixth Street, an estimated 20,000 people are streaming in and out of the city's record number of bars where bands like Cloud Nothings, Speedy Ortiz and Ryan Hemsworth have been performing all week. 24 hours prior, a man barely old enough to enter those bars drove through a barricade, narrowly missing a police officer, running down 25 people before attempting to run from police who eventually had to use a taser to subdue him. After it was all said and done three people perished, five were left in critical condition and an indelible mark was left on the annual South by Southwest music and arts festival as well as the city of Austin as a whole. The moment of silence honoring those impacted the night before ironically fell on deaf ears as the cliché notion that “the show must go on” was in full effect. What else could we all do? Trips to sxsw, by nature of the festival’s size, are planned months in advance, leaving out-of-towners stuck in an amazing city wondering if having a good time is even okay. With that in mind, the senseless deaths of three people happening in front of my eyes, I attempt here to sum up sxsw 2014 by remembering why we go to events like this in the first place: to enjoy life while we can. Most Bang For Your Buck: Fader Fort I was elated to find out that my RSVP to The Fader Fort had been confirmed. This was my first time at sxsw as a 21-year-old and I was more than ready to take advantage of my first ever open bar—and it didn't disappoint. Captain Morgan and Converse sponsored the entire event so most of my recollection is a blur of fashionable sneakers and the sound of me saying “captain and coke” to a bartender whose face I wish I could remember. In any event, the shows were pretty good, good enough, at least, to sacrifice the chance to wait in line for something else. Standout performances from SOPHIE and YG, made spending my entire day in one location seem worth it. YG, the Compton rapper whose debut 'My Krazy Life,' is out this week, put on an energy-filed, albeit short set that lifted the general mood, while SOPHIE's enigmatic presence managed to feel like witnessing some very rare, very special ritual. Most Awkward Scene: Hype Hotel I think the Hype Hotel was sponsored by Taco Bell—at least I hope it was because I kept asking for tacos. I also had no business in the place because I didn’t have any type of credential except a drink ticket that I found on the ground at another show, but as the nice gentleman I met in line told me: "You just gotta finesse that shit bruh!" Unfortunately none of my friends had any luck getting in so I found myself alone debating whether or not endless FREE Tito's Vodka was worth ditching my friends (it was). I think it was mainly electronic “brostep” at the hotel so I just walked in circles collecting drink tickets and drinking vodka monsters for a surprisingly quick three hours. I did get to see Chromeo and Kelis so it wasn’t a complete disaster. Also, as an added bonus, four people asked me if I knew where to score some "yayo" during my time there, which in hindsight was probably because I was awkwardly walking around in circles. Most Friendly Vibes: Portals By the end of my trip to sxsw I had lost most of my faith in humanity. A drunk driver who had been invited to Austin to play a showcase killed innocent people, a plane was missing above the Indian Ocean and NASA articles about the inevitable collapse of human civilization were circulating like wildfire: it was not a pleasant week. All of that doom and gloom changed, even if only for a brief couple of hours, when I made the trek to up-and-coming art gallery The Owl for the Portals Music Showcase. The venue, a modest house with a Texas-sized backyard, felt like a really nice backyard bbq with a bunch of extremely talented friends. On the docket were Saint Pepsi, Hundred Waters, Beat Culture, Empress Of and Clipping, all of whom weren't too cool to hang out in the backyard drinking LoneStars (a treasure of a beer) before their sets. The showcase turned out to be the highlight of the week with the type of friendly atmosphere that I imagine people who were at the early sxsw festivals think fondly of. And for me, it's probably the only reason i didn't go insane that week. __ Jeff is an intern and blogger at AltarTV.



AltarTV Intern Adam Valen goes to his first music festival, Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati, OH in July 2013. __ Bunbury’s motto for July 12th-14th was to “‘Bee’ Free”. And it felt like that the entire weekend. There was nothing but great food, drinks, and even greater music. If you're unfamiliar, the headliners for this year’s festival were: Fun, MGMT, and The National. Maybe not the most eclectic or adventurous booking, but a solid marquis to support all the talent set for smaller stages last weekend.  FRIDAY So the 5 ½ hour drive from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati got me off to a little bit of a late start, but as I walked in the gate, I could already hear a familiar tune of “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors. I actually just heard it on a commercial for Lowes the other day, so small world. Everything about their music is catchy so it was definitely a treat to kick off my Bunbury experience that way.  I was told to be on the lookout for chili. As I made my way over to main stage, I started to realize how big chili's draw is at Bunbury. It was everywhere....and they put it on EVERYTHING. I went with a spaghetti dish covered in chili and cheese. Very interesting. As I was walking over to the main stage,  I noticed that Bunbury puts a high priority on local fare. All the vendors, a lot of the beer, and a handful of bands were Cincinnatti-based, or at least Ohioan. Call me old fashioned, but I love local businesses. The next couple of hours were spent over by the Main Stage. I managed to see fantastic sets from Delta Rae, Tegan and Sara, and ATV alums (and two of my personal favorite sets from the weekend) Youngblood Hawke and Walk the Moon. I headed over to the Bud Light Stage for Tokyo Police Club later that night. TPC was by far one of the best sets there. Not only cause I love “Elephant Shell” and “Champ” and TPC in general, but their sound and energy was superb. The day ended with Fun. It’s safe to say, I’ve never seen more people singing along to a song than I did people singing “We Are Young”. SATURDAY Saturday was filled with a bunch of artists that have been featured on AltarTV. My day started off with South Africa’s Civil Twilight, who were absolutely mind blowing. While it was fun reconnecting with bands I knew, finding new ones provided many of the weekend's highlights. Vacationer was the big discovery of mine for the weekend. It's mellow stuff, good if you’re into Geographer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., or Givers. My other favorite performances of this week: Robert Delong, The Mowgli's, Twenty One Pilots, Oberhofer, and Atlas Genius. They left me speechless and given this description, I guess I still am. My Saturday night ended with the always popular MGMT. The visuals were ridiculous. Top notch. SUNDAY Today was the day to soak in the sun and see everything that was going on during the festival. Today was the day to try all the food and meet all the people. There weren’t too many personal favorites as far as music today. So my order of food consisted of (all of which were over the top): pulled pork sandwich, barbeque chicken mac & cheese with bacon, and a grilled cheese with pepperoni and honey. I had to leave early Sunday to beat the weather and the 5 ½ hour drive. However, managed to catch bands like High Highs (Australia), ATV alums Savior Adore, Night Terrors of 1927, and most of my personal favorite from Sunday, Belle and Sebastian. Expect me to be at a lot more festivals. __ Follow Adam Valen @AdamValen. He does hair and makeup for AltarTV videos and he is TERRIBLE at it. He is also our Marketing & Promotions Intern.  All photos from Adam except the pulled pork sandwich, courtesy of



Day 1 is here folks. Here are our picks. (AG is Alex Gordon, CC is Cliff Chien, AD is Alex Drizos) Foxes In Fiction 3PM @ Spike Hill, 186 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11211 Foxes In Fiction is the solo project of musician Warren Hildebrand. I wrote an article about FIF a few years ago when Hildebrand released his Hospital District/Static Cults 7”. I liked it enough, but sorta forgot about it not long after. Then, last year, “Static Cults” appeared on my shuffle and I gave it another shot. I was floored. “Static Cults” is a lengthy electronic longwinder, pulsing and droning in a lot of the ways we’ve come to expect from ambient electronic music. But much, much better, in ways that are hard to explain intelligently.  Since then, his full length Swung From The Branches has become one of my favorite records. It’s a hazy, deceptively relaxing album, comforting and uneasy at the same time, the sort of music you want to write to (and I do, and am at this moment). Check out “Static Cults” and “15 Ativan” to start. Foxes In Fiction plays Spike Hill in Brooklyn today at 3pm (though 3am would seem much more fitting). -AG ___ Cultfever 8:50PM @ Littlefield, 622 Degraw St. New York, NY 11217 Cultfever is a duo from Brooklyn. NY. If you like Phantogram, Metric, or any female fronted synth act, you'll dig this. And lucky for you, this is just the first of their multiple appearances at CMJ this year. For details on the others, go here. - CC ___ Savoir Adore 10:25PM @ Santos Party House, 96 Lafayette Street, NY, 10013 Okay, we’ve shown Savoir Adore a lot of love lately. With good reason. It started when they dropped by AltarTV in July and recorded “Loveliest Creature” for Unplugged and Unrehearsed. We were hooked.  Savoir Adore is Deidre Muro and Paul Hammer, a duo of musicians with a knack for what is usually called fantasy-pop, or described with some combination of the words “whimsical” and “dreamy.” Whatever it is, it’s poppy and weird and adventurous and fun to listen to. If you check out our U&U episode of “Loveliest Creature,” be sure to check out the album version as well. It’s a nice introduction to the sort of variety these folks are capable of. And, what do you know? Their latest album, Our Nature, came out today, so you know they’ll be in high spirits. It’s an album-release party, or might as well be. Check them out at Santos Party House tonight. -AG __ Honorable Mentions Blackbird Blackbird (Electronic) - @ Santos - 8:05PM Teen Daze (Electronic-ish Indie) - @ Pianos - 10:00PM Delicate Steve (Lyricless Guitar Indie) - @ Marlin Room at Webster Hall - 11:45PM And lastly, here's our ATV CMJ Playlist. Check back tomorrow for more CMJ 2012.  __






So, what is AltarTV?

AltarTV makes videos about music. We use multiple cameras to shoot live concerts, unplugged sessions, documentary features, interviews and other pieces about music and those who create it. And we’re always developing new show ideas for the future. We also like to promote interesting, worthwhile new bands on our blog and keep our audience in tune with whatever music news is going on.

Who works at AltarTV?

Musicians mostly. We’re also photographers, video editors, journalists and industry people. But we’re musicians mostly, which we think makes sense for the sort of thing we do.

Where are you?

The AltarTV HQ is in Pittsburgh, PA with a second office in Los Angeles. This means we capture a lot of our content in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey and Detroit. But we also travel for things like festivals and conferences.

How long has this been going on?

AltarTV was founded in the Spring of 2011. We started releasing series that summer and our first version website debuted in August 2011.

Do you have internships?

We have internships for Video Editing and Marketing. We’ll make it clear when those applications have to be in, but you can always ask us stuff at that info email (



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Although we usually select the bands you see on AltarTV, we still need you to keep us on our toes. Submit your music here.