Colorado rocked Texas at SXSW Thursday on Sixth Street for Day One of the Colorado Music Party. There was a steady stream of music fans coming in and out of The 512 while 15 bands rocked two stages representing the Centennial state.
Walking down Sixth along with thousands of other festival attendees, I knew I had arrived when I saw the giant Colorado Music Party signage from about a block and a half away. Once inside, everywhere you turned there was a visual opportunity to discover what Colorado has to offer. There were videos being projected, sponsor and partner signs (including our own), t-shirts and albums being sold, and signage all over.
I mention that because you don't always get that experience during a festival as chaotic as this. I appreciated signage next to each stage with the name of the band that was performing to know exactly who you were seeing. All the details were thoughtful, and cheers to the team for choosing to fly the Colorado Music Party flag at half-mast out of respect to the lives lost and those affected by the deadly car accident the night before.
One stage was indoors and the other on the roof of the venue. Rob Drabkin performed to a packed rooftop crowd and during his set, and I overheard two friends say: "He's the best singer I've heard in a long time." While I was standing outside of the venue, a small group of guys from Mississippi stood at the window to watch The Photo Atlas, and I gave them badges to go in to see their set. I met a couple who came to see Gungor because they weren't able to attend their official showcase.
Nowadays it seems you can measure the connection the audience makes during a band's performance by how many mobile devices are held in the air photographing their experience. Wheelchair Sports Camp brought the house down with their current all-star Colorado lineup which consisted of a DJ, upright bass, and the guys from Rubedo on drums, keys, and guitar. At one point, I turned around to see how many people were watching the show and there was sea of phones held in the air.
From straight up rock to hip-hop and Americana, the showcase has been a great success representing the diverse Colorado music scene. While I had seen most of the bands on the lineup before, my favorite musical discovery of the day was Tim Yunker's new R&B group Steele & Colfax. He has been by the CPR Performance Studio with his hip-hop act, The Sound Junkies, and this just gave me a new perspective on how to appreciate his songwriting and the swagger of his voice. Dave Fender, our Audio Engineer, and I whispered to each other at the same time, "We gotta get this band in our studio!"