Backbeat: Solange, Jim James, Music Biz Hit Prince's SXSW Extravaganza

Prince performs at La Zona Roas at SXSW on March 16.

John Sciulli/Getty Images for Samsung 

South By Southwest may have been rolling to a close on Saturday night, but that didn't mean attendees had packed their bags quite yet: about 1,000 of them were lucky enough to find themselves at Prince's intimate La Zona Rosa show, a three-hour-plus extravaganza that boasted a high-energy opening set from A Tribe Called Quest.  Of course here too were a good chunk of the industry and the fest’s artists.

Green Day's Mike Dirnt was celebrating his anniversary here with his wife while Solange got down to Prince funk-filled set. 

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Jim James attending his first-ever Prince show. (Photo: Jeff Miller)

Also spotted was My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, who – shockingly – was at his first-ever Prince show. The hirsute singer told Billboard that this South By (which he was actively promoting his recent solo record at) was an interesting one, since it had been a few years since he'd been at the fest.

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“It's funny how much it's changed,  James said. “We played here 13 years ago for the first time, and back then it was still younger bands trying to make it – it was a big deal if Lucinda Williams was  playing. Now it's become a big showcase for giants like Prince or Jay-Z – people who don't need any help making it in the music industry. They've already made it! It's turned into more of a showcase of music than an avenue of discovery, which is kind of frustrating because I feel like a lot of bands that might need help getting discovered here get pushed down by the avalanche of [big name] stuff.”

Celebrate Brooklyn's Brett McNamara (Photo: Jeff Miller)

Brett McMamara, the sponsorship/marketing manager of the concert series Celebrate Brooklyn, was also at the show. “I almost forgot my title!,” he said. “That's how my week's going.” For him, South By is the ultimate spot to network, especially while he's looking for ideas for the concert series he helps put on each summer. “For me, personally, seeing what all the brands and sponsors are doing down here [makes the trip worthwhile.”

 

Manger Nicky Berger (Photo: Jeff Miller)

Manager Nicky Berger spent his South By differently than he ever had– though he's usually behind the scenes with bands like Grouplove -- this year was his first without a band to take care of. “I've been able to wander, roam, and find myself in venues and places that I hadn't planned on, he said. “Even better, I don't have the incredible fear of missing out that everyone at South By seems to have “I've had my share of awesome moments, regardless of if they were big secret shows or not. Seeing a band have a big moment – even if it's at a little club somewhere – after seeing it from the inside, I know how special and how hard they work to get to that point.” His picks to hit? The Australian band Alpine, and St Lucia. “[Seeing them] were equally as cool moments as it is being at a Prince show.

 

Attorney Kevin Eskowitz (Photo: Jeff Miller)

Music and media attorney Kevin Eskowtiz , of the firm Hertz and Lichetenstein, helps represent publicity firm PNK/BNC, who work on the Samsung account, and positioned the show with the brand. “My highlight of South By was probably Solange at Stubbs,” he said, before the show. “A new band that I found was a group called New Beat Fund – they were a blast. I saw them a couple times, and they crushed it. Also Lissie was a standout for me – she was fantastic.”

Solange performing at Stubbs on March 15 during SXSW (Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage)

He also noticed SXSW's branding angle. “You definitely see a lot of brands everywhere, and everyone's staking their claims. It's really important at festivals and showcases to use it to showcase your brand and have different artists who are relevant right now to align with your brand and show how you connect with your consumers and your customers. I think Samsung's done a really great job of it this week.”