South By Southwest isn't only about what happens on stage, but also what's seen and heard through out the streets of downtown Austin. Artists take advantage of the festival to familiarize themselves with other artists they may have heard of once, or to set up a future collaboration. Pharrell Williams was seen having a lengthy conversation with pop trio Haim, while Kendrick Lamar stopped through James Blake's listening session at the W Hotel on Friday (March 15).
Despite the emergence of showcase performances by legendary artists within the past three years (Prince, Lionel Richie, Jay-Z), small acts are still being discovered by record label executives at SXSW. Lyor Cohen, the former Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group and Island Def Jam, was spotted at one of many of Chance the Rapper's sets, for instance.
Here are five Juice-y things seen and heard behind the scenes at SXSW 2013.
1. Many of the surprise performances at this year's SXSW were better than the ones that were announced. Fader Fort's unannounced sets by Tra tha Truth (on Thursday) and Bun B (on Friday) drew in larger crowds than some headlining gigs. Media and fans ran from whatever show they were at on Wednesday afternoon (March 13) to catch Pharcyde perform classics at Converse Rubbertracks showcase at the last minute. Asher Roth and Cool Kids' Chuck Inglish couldn't miss the show either.
2. French Montana left many concertgoers and media outlets (Grantland, Spin, VIBE and even Fader) perplexed by his underwhelming headlining show at Fader Fort's final night (Friday, March 15). The rapper's discography runs deep, but he's been claiming the rap charts with his radio-friendly anthems, which he sprinkled lightly throughout his set. It's a blessing and a curse to be the Fader Fort's headlining artist, especially following a night in which Usher performed as a surprise. It's now expected to pull out the big guns, but after Diddy only came out for two songs, one of which was a throwback ("All About the Benjamins") and his latest single "Freaks" was played not performed, French's set was more of a tease than a main entree. Some concertgoers waited in line for four hours, hoping to see Rick Ross, Drake, Nicki Minaj or simply more of Diddy.
3. Pharrell Willams talked to Haim after they performed at the Filter Showdown on Friday. Pharrell has been a fan of the ladies for some time now, but finally had the chance to check them out and chat. Kendrick Lamar was sure to stop through the James Blake listening session to meet Blake and hear his new material from "Overgrown." A Universal Records rep shared that Kendrick Lamar became an instant fan after listening to the album's first single "Retrograde." Hopefuly the two will collaborate in the near future, as both are fans of one another.
4. Although it may be overwhelming for bands to perform back-to-back showcases in so little time, the payoff can be great. Lyor Cohen was spotted behind the front row of Chance the Rapper's performance at 404 Austin on Thursday (March 14). The 19-year old Chicago rapper, signed to Cara Lewis of the Creative Arts Agency, brought in double the crowd than other rising artists on the bill.
5. Label sightings are golden for SXSW acts, but a self-introduction to fans and media is key for rising acts. U.K. band Rudimental caught the attention of many during their performance at the Fader Fort. Impassioned vocals of Virgin Records UK singer Ella Eyre, had many Googling her name for more. Her manager, Charlie Arme, told Billboard that there is new solo material underway.