Austin translation

By Joanna Hunkin, Sarah Illingworth

A host of emerging Kiwi talent stormed Austin, Texas last week for the SXSW Festival. JOANNA HUNKIN called up for a status update

Bang Bang Eche is the band name on everyone's lips this week following a rollicking debut at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas last week.

The little-known Christchurch band grabbed punters by the short and curlies with their outrageous onstage antics, which left their band manager fearing the frontman had done permanent damage.

"I actually thought that Zach [Doney] had broken both his legs. He jumped over the entire stage from the top of a speaker stack, he probably jumped 15 feet out from 10 feet high.

"He jumped right over the stage and on to the floor and disappeared from view. And then a second later he bounced up like he was on springs and was right back on stage," recalled their band manager, Rev. Moose, speaking from Texas on Monday.

The band were one of four Kiwi acts to perform in the New Zealand Music Commission's showcase, alongside Cut Off Your Hands, Midnight Youth and Ladyhawke.

But despite solid sets from all four bands, the Christchurch teens were the surprise standouts, according to NZMC export manager Gary Fortune.

"They've come out of this as being a real buzz band to watch," said Fortune. "They blew people off the stage.

"They drew in people from all around. They're being chased by publishers, by labels, promoters. It's been incredible to watch."

Moose agreed the showcase had helped boost the band's growing profile, but said it was too early to start announcing future deals.

"It's way too soon to say what any of those conversations are going to come to."

The Kiwi showcase has become a popular event at the festival, which features more than 1600 bands from around the world.

This year's line up saw more than 3100 people RSVP for the show, which reached its 350-person capacity within minutes of the doors opening.

"There were people still in the line right up until the last song by Ladyhawke," said Fortune. "I would say we had over 1500 people come through that day."

Auckland indie rockers Cut Off Your Hands returned to the festival for the second time and were major drawcards for the showcase, according to Fortune.

Frontman Nick Johnson said the band owed a lot to the festival and the contacts it made there.

"Everyone who works with us in America now, we've met through things that happened through SXSW.

"Our US record label first saw us there - through them came all our booking agents, and all our publicity and stuff like that. Our first lot of international press came from being at that as well. NME were the first international magazine to write about us, and that was from seeing us there."

Other Kiwi artists attended the festival, playing individual showcases, including White Swan Black Swan, David Dallas, Jackie Bristow and former Goodshirt frontman Rodney Fisher.

"White Swan Black Swan played an amazing showcase [on Saturday night] for maybe 30 people," said Fortune. "Afterwards, a couple of music supervisors came up and approached the band. They put music into films and television and said the band had songs that they wanted for them - music they could hear in their films and series."

Fortune was reluctant to name the companies involved until a deal was confirmed but said the music supervisors represented the top tier of the entertainment industry.

It showed how even small showcases at the festival could have a profound impact on a musician's career, he said.

More than 10,000 bands and musicians applied to perform at the festival. Applicants are chosen on their existing profile and future plans.

Fellow Kiwi acts The Ruby Suns, The Mint Chicks, Dimmer, The Have and Flight of the Conchords have all attended past festivals, which act as a trade showcase, with many of the industry's key players attending the week-long event.

- Additional reporting Sarah Illingworth

- NZ Herald

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