Backbeat: Pitchfork, Green Label Sound and Jagjaguwar Bring the Indie Rock to SXSW

L-R: Stereogum executive editor Amrit Singh; Stereogum founder Scott Lapatine; Pitchfork editor Brandon Stosuy; Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber

On Wednesday, Pitchfork held their unofficial day party and official showcase at 1100 Warehouse, with a line of people waiting to get in longer than FADER Fort's notoriously never-ending one across the street. It was a surprise, then, that Stereogum executive editor Amrit Singh was the one guarding the press entrance. He took time off from his bouncer duties to take a very candid shot with Stereogum founder Scott Lapatine, Pitchfork editor Brandon Stosuy and Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber.

Much of the Chicago and some of the New York staff came down for this event headlined by Toro Y Moi and Youth Lagoon and featuring searing sets by Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Mac DeMarco. Indoor extracurricular activities included a giant blackboard where attendees (mostly of the minor set) could doodle and a Newcastle-sponsored photo booth where those of drinking age could post a photo to social media in exchange for a beer ticket.


L-R: The Besnard Lakes' Richard White, Olga Goreas, Jace Lasek, and Kevin Laing

On the way over to the Green Label Sound party across town at the Lucille on Rainey Street, Australian sensation Flume -- who recently bumped One Direction off the iTunes charts with unstoppable single "Sleepless" and his debut self-titled album -- was taking a break with Pitch Perfect PR publicist Patrick Tilley at the Hilton Garden Inn from the eight (!) shows he would be performing this week. The best part of his first South by Southwest? Watching his manager spray-paint the ceiling of the party bus he rode until 3 a.m. the night before.

Since the GLS party started right when FADER Fort closed down, it took a little while for people to arrive. Eating bags of free Doritos and examining free merchandise like GLS-branded sunglasses, mp3 drives, and earplugs, they circled the dance floor as producer Brenmar started spinning. GLS' Melissa Keklak led me to PepsiCo's Richie Cruz, who took advantage of the downtime to explain to me the mission statement behind Mountain Dew's relationship with music.


Green Label Sound's Melissa Keklak and Richie Cruz

"The big idea is that we're a patron of the arts," he said. "This isn't just a corporate exercise. We're evolving our platform to be more content-focused and more creative. Joey Bada$$ [who will perform at the Lucille as part of GLS' showcase tomorrow night] is a perfect example of a deep collaboration. For me, that was a no-brainer. It wasn't this corporate strategy meeting decision to work with Joey. That's me knowing Jonny [Shipes of Cinematic Music Group], who's worked with Big K.R.I.T. in the past, and just using our intuition and making a decision based on that.  "You can probably hear the enthusiasm in my voice," Cruz said, though he acknowledged that he was also losing his voice (like most people at this point in the festival).


L-R: Australian electronic musician Flume, a.k.a. Harley Streten, and Pitch Perfect PR's Patrick Tilley

Across town, a somewhat differently-minded showcase was going down at Red 7, where the Besnard Lakes' Jace Lasek good-naturedly gave the finger to a giant MERCH sign above his head. The band was playing as part of Dead Oceans, Jagjaguwar, and Secretly Canadian's showcase, which included artists like Phosphorescent, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and Foxygen. The latter two were playing their second sets of the day, and Foxygen sounded better than ever but also seemed to be showing the strain. "Who said that?" he said when someone accused him of whining about playing every night for the past two months. "Come up here and say that to my face!" he continued, with a string of expletives in between. Undaunted, the band played on behind him, and in a few minutes they resumed their set.

Aside from that, spirits were celebratory as label staff and bands mugged for the camera. Secretly Canadian's Lucy Robinson and Melanie Sheehan split from Dead Oceans founder Phil Waldorf right as their picture was taken, while Jagjaguwar founder Darius Van Arman looked on. Even MTV's John Norris bopped around, saying hello to everyone and looking forward to Phosphorescent's performance.

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