The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


March 24, 2014

SXSW stories: Local bands that played during this year's festival say all the work was worth it

JOPLIN, Mo. — Ryan O'Toole didn't know for sure about the gig until about three weeks before it was to happen. But the gig was too good to pass up, and he had known since January that it might happen.

"Someone else canceled," O'Toole said. "It was a band on the MidCoast Takeover stage, run by the Midwest Music Foundation. They liked our sound, and we ended up playing."

The gig was in Austin, Texas earlier this month during SXSW (South by Southwest), an event of conferences, film festivals and concerts that draws thousands from around the world. The event each year features top bands, hip indie films and cutting-edge trends in content creation and interactivity.

Three local bands took part in this year's event, held from March 7 to 16 -- Sextonic Plates (of which O'Toole is a member), Me Like Bees and Last Chance Casanova. The appearances were short, required a lot of work and didn't pay.

But the exposure to fans and industry insiders -- as well as so many other talented bands -- make all the efforts to play the festival worth it, O'Toole said. Between Wednesday, March 12 and Friday, March 15, band members got a chance to earn new fans and make business connections.

"It was a success as far as us getting to do everything we set out to do," O'Toole said. "This is proof of it. It's a setup for all the things we want to do in the future."


Last Chance Casanova got a chance to play last year's festival, so lead singer and guitarist Alex Fuhr started early to get into this year's event. He submitted the band for consideration to the Red Gorilla Music Festival through the band's ReverbNation page.

Fuhr said the band was accepted and landed a prime spot at one of the busiest bars. Moments after they arrived in Austin early Wednesday morning, they were invited to play at a second gig by another group.

"We confirmed the gig and started playing that Wednesday afternoon at Amped," Fuhr said. "Then Saturday, we got a prime spot at one of Austin's busiest bars."

Sextonic Plates, based out of Pittsburg, played Wednesday afternoon at the MidCoast festival, opening for the band Not in the Face. O'Toole said the band got the gig because of past experience playing in Kansas City. Their time slot kicked off the rock portion of the day's lineup.

"A sound guy at the Record Bar, he liked us a lot, so we got put on a cancellation list," O'Toole said. "Everyone gets there early, and we had a really good time to get to play down there."

The band also played with a band based out of Los Angeles -- three music teachers who call themselves No Small Children.

Luke Sheafer, singer for Me Like Bees, said his band was one of the groups initially chosen by the Midwest Music Foundation. Band members performed Friday night on the MidCoast stage at a bar called Shangri-La.

Me Like Bees also picked up a gig -- through its label, Loveway Records, they were the house band for the Loud Village Official SXSW Party, a comedy and music show on Thursday. Performers included T.J. Miller, Sean O'Connor and Byron Bowers.

"That was kind of interesting," Sheafer said. "We played a set at the end, but we'd do 10-second snippets between all the comedians. It was like we were a late night show band."

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