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Transmission
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sxsw2015 Thu Mar 19 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 1 Tour Diary from In Tall Buildings

Chicago at SXSW 2015

Erik Hall is In Tall Buildings. He's also a SXSW vet. Deciding to keep things simple this time around, he's keeping things pretty Zen. Catch him tonight if you're in Austin!


March, 2006 - Ann Arbor, MI: Young members of the band NOMO are gathering to load up the van and embark on the 20-hour drive from Ann Arbor to Austin, TX for our first-ever trip to South By Southwest. We've decided to depart in the early evening and drive straight through the night. We've heard tales of the mayhem and sheer magnitude of the event at our destination, and spirits and expectations are high as we roll out of town and turn on to I-94 West.

(hours later...)

It's dark. The hours are long. Some brave band member is piloting the van through some part of the middle of the U.S.A., and the road drones along under us. No one has spoken for a while. At some point we discovered that if one bench-mate opts to take the floor then both can stretch out their legs and attempt to get some actual sleep. Dan Piccolo (drums) is stirring while trying his best to stay comfortable. He rolls over onto his other side, and through the darkness he can make out the face of one Justin Walter (trumpet). Justin is staring back at him, wide awake, and in his usual, darkly-comical monotone he utters two words: "Maximum pain."

***

March 18th, 2015 - Chicago, IL: I'm sitting at Tortas Frontera in Terminal 3 of O'Hare with long-time friend and drummer Quin Kirchner and our friend / Brooklyn bassist Kellen Harrison. The three of us play together in Wild Belle, and the amount of time we've spent with each other over the past three years probably rivals that which we've spent with our respective partners. We've sat at this particular bar many times, and it has become somewhat of a ritual to start each trip with a torta and a tall Negra Modelo. As we've crept through our early-30s, the meal has come to serve as a quiet emblem of something we've grown to value deeply while touring: comfort. And it humbles me to know that tonight it's on my own watch, as we're flying to Austin to perform as In Tall Buildings. As it happens, the performance will mark my seventh South By Southwest in ten years.

This year's trip is shaping up to stand out due to its very non-SXSW level of simplicity. Throughout years past, and in various groups, we've done it pretty much every which way a band can do: driving straight-shot, touring down and back, flying with loads of checked gear, playing a ton of shows and parties, playing just a couple, sleeping on friends' dirty floors, paying for hotel beds, etc. I'm heartened by the relatively easy plans that took shape this time around: nabbing reasonable flights, staying with a pair of good, old friends in their nice, clean East-side apartment, keeping a relaxed schedule over the course of only two days, borrowing back line, and playing one, single, meaningful show - the official showcase of In Tall Buildings' new Austin-based record label, Western Vinyl.

Furthermore, I have reason to believe our show will be decidedly intimate, a word not often brought to mind in mid-March Austin. In keeping with the deliberate and thoughtfully considered nature of the record label, and in stark contrast to the myriad loud, open-air, lager-smelling rock clubs about town (fun as those can be), our venue Thursday will be a small, seated black-box theater called The Hideout. And I'm eager to meet and hear each of the other bands on the bill: Ava Luna (New York, NY), Abram Shook (Austin, TX), Stone Jack Jones (Nashville, TN), Botany (Austin, TX), and Elephant Micah (Bloomington, IN).

I often hear the question of whether or not it's worth it for a band to travel to SXSW. The answer is: It depends. It's good to know what you're getting into and to optimize your time based on your own interests. In general I'm profoundly grateful to be able to travel and perform with friends. This week will be no exception.

- Erik

~*~

Catch In Tall Buildings at SXSW:

March 19: at The Hideout (617 Congress Ave) in Austin, TX.

 
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Our Final Transmission Days

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