Held March 12-18 in Austin, the annual South By Southwest Music Conference has in recent years grown to encompass film and interactive media, but for many who travel to Texas, it's all about the music. With over 2,000 acts from 49 countries performing on over 100 stages, the capital city truly lives up to its' moniker, 'Live Music Capital Of The World'. And although SXSW's focus remains on emerging talent, established artists now line up to play intimate showcases during the festival.
With Austin as home base, High End Systems takes a unique approach to the festival, both in support of the visiting lighting designers - many who are embracing the new Hog 4 console, and of the amazing Hype Hotel venue, which featured Passion Pit, Cold War Kids, Ra Ra Riot and 60 other performers at the transformed downtown space. Sponsored by Taco Bell, Hype Hotel is the brainchild of MP3 blog aggregator Hype Machine. Founder Anthony Volodkin explains, "The Hype Machine has worked in partnership with Taco Bell to create a diverse showcase of fantastic artists who have gained popularity on hypem.com, all under one roof in a raw space we created from the ground up. The huge amount of trust between the different teams in this partnership allowed us to create a remarkable experience that transformed excitement about music on the web into an intense live show."
Hype Hotel sported an all High End rig of 14 TechnoArcs, six TechnoSpots, four intellaspots, eight SolaSpot LEDs, eight Trackspot Bolts, six DLVs and eight ShowGun 2.5's, as well as the new Hog 4 and Playback Wing. Three Barco RLM W8 projectors and three Axon Media Servers rounded out the equipment specifications. Hype Machine's Production Designer for Hype Hotel is Brian H. Kim, Head of Lighting for Cirque Du Soleil's Totem. With this wide mix of sources, Brian created a cornucopia of stunning lighting looks for the multitude of acts, resulting in what many attendees called 'the best show in town'. The LD says he loves using TechnoArcs for their 'fat beam which is also really bright', and that the eight ShowGuns were his secret weapon, adding 'if you really want to punch through, the ShowGun is the fixture to use'.
Event Producer Josh Rowe commented on the relationship that Hype Machine and High End Systems have developed over the years: "This was our eighth SXSW and our second Hype Hotel. High End have been one of our trusted partners for the last five years, and always help us to create an incredible experience for both the attendees and the bands. Their equipment and support gives us the ability to provide world-class production for these bands, some of who have never played a real venue with professional lighting equipment."
"Brian is the production expert," continues Rowe, "and he's the person I trust to create a masterpiece of visual art using this state-of-the-art gear. His talent amazes me; designing lighting for over 60 bands is quite a challenge in itself. With the flexibility of the HES fixtures, he did a fabulous job of creating unique visuals that people haven't seen before, and also provided appropriate and sympathetic lighting for the many different styles represented at Hype Hotel."
LD Marc Janowitz lit Jim James' 'Live In Austin' showcase and several other headlining gigs with a Full Boar 3. He also headlined The Hype Hotel with Marc using the Hog 4 console. High End Systems fixtures and consoles were also in prominent display at the Moody Theatre, where resident LD Bryan Schrumpf used 40 intellaspots and a Full Boar console with expansion wing to illuminate the prestigious 'ACL Live' shows. The 24 concerts included performances by John Fogerty, Green Day, Cirque du Soleil #EVOKE13, Divine Fits, Natalie Maines, Iron and Wine, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings. Down the road, vintage techno met EDM when Deadmau5 (sans giant smiling mouse helmet) and DJ Richie Hawtin performed at Stubbs for the 2013 Interactive Closing Party, where LD John McGuire used 12 ShowPix fixtures and a Full Boar 3 desk to create gorgeous and trippy LED panel effects. The Smashing Pumpkins played an intimate but blistering set at Red Bull's Sound Select, with LD Loz Upton providing his signature rich visual textures for the 90 minute show via a Wholehog 3 desk.
Reflecting on the 2013 SXSW experience, High End Systems National Sales Manager Craig Burross says "South By Southwest is such an amazing experience for the city of Austin, the festival attendees, the venue producers, performers, and production providers such as Olden Lighting, Ilios, Big House, Gemini and On Stage Systems. Everybody comes together to put on amazing shows in every nook and cranny possible. The professional camaraderie is just incredible, and High End Systems is very fortunate to be based in Austin, TX, and be able to participate in every single key SXSW showcase."