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SXSW 2015: You May Play for Nobody, or Not Play At All

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Editor's Note: Denver rock band In the Whale is in Austin this week for SXSW. The duo of Nate Valdez (vocals and guitar) and Eric Riley (drums and backing vocals) will be documenting their exploits and observations for Westword Music. 

For more shenanigans, follow In the Whale on FacebookTwitter and/or Instagram. For the most shenanigans, head to the hi-dive on April 3rd, where the band will be celebrating the release of a new album called Full Nelson

You might play to nobody.

Every band has to look in the mirror ask the question, "How bad do I want this?" While buzz bands like Cancer Bats, Diarrhea Planet and Summer Cannibals play countless shows all over SXSW, hundreds of bands fight tooth and nail to even get one show and make the most of their chance.

While waiting for K.Flay to perform Thursday night, we met .Stendal, who traveled all the way from Mexico City to play ONE show in Austin, TX.

There is planning, saving, and sacrifice that must be made to make it to the festival or to tour in general. Can you imagine explaining to the border patrol that you are an unknown band going to the USA to play one show? From our past encounters with the Border Patrol, they’re gonna spend a few extra minutes looking through your belongings if you even resemble a band.

As the guys from .Stendal explained, this was “their shot” and despite being disappointed that less than 50 people attended their show, it was worth it. We traded a few tour stories, talked about marijuana being legalized in Colorado, and we parted ways. Will we ever cross paths with .Stendal again? Who knows… but we walked away saying “they want it.”

Another band we ran into, FREAKABOUT, traveled from Lincoln, NE with two SXSW shows on the books and found out yesterday only to find out both were now cancelled. They are currently in Austin, all dressed up with nowhere to go. Defeated, but trying to be optimistic the trip to Austin was worth it for the possibility that something else may open up last minute.

There are no clear answers to what a band should do. There’s a sense of respect and awe one can’t help but feel for someone who is blindly committing to their passion regardless of the outcome.

Work hard. Do your best. We all might not make it. But at least we can say we gave it everything we had. This is our life.

Here are some snapshots from day three: 

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