Polly Mackey & The Pleasure Principle - Polly Mackey SXSW diary
Out of the hundreds upon hundreds of acts that performed at this year, 18 year old Polly Mackey and her band the Pleasure Principle were personally invited to deliver the first official music performance of the SXSW 2010 Music Festival at the Delegate Welcome Dinner at The Four Seasons Hotel on Wednesday 17th March.
The Liverpool & North Wales based band made their second appearance at SXSW after a blistering 9-performance debut at last year's festival which earned them rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. In the second of our exclusive SXSW tour diaries mighty fine smart, guitar poppers Polly Mackey & The Pleasure Principle give us their experiences of the festival in words and pictures, complete with a meeting with Bill Murray, unforseen injuries, and some sparkling performances!
Friday 12th March - arrived in Austin after horrendous 23 hour, 3-flight journey via Philadelphia and Charlotte, North Carolina where we sat on the runway for two hours waiting for an electrical storm to pass over.
Although we are all absolutely knackered by the time we got to the hotel, we were greeted by a posse of people who we became friends with last year and ended up having a mini-party till the early hours... which was most probably the best way to get us well and truly sync'd with Texas time.
Saturday 13th March - unlike last year when we were gigging within 24 hours of arriving, we've come out a couple of days earlier to make sure we've totally shaken off the jet lag before we go anywhere near a stage. So today is just a day for relaxing. I got up quite late to find the rest of the band bubbling away in the jaccuzzi by the pool.
In the afternoon, we did a quick tour of downtown to refresh our memories from last year. Although the Festival has officially already started with Film and Interactive, 6th Street seems weirdly quiet... it will be Wednesday before it will be closed off to traffic and the madness that is the Music Festival will begin.
Monday 15th March - we had our first warm-up gig tonight at Dart International's Indie Interactive Night at Mi Casa on 6th Street. We'd agreed to do a little acoustic set and a Q&A session at the venue in the afternoon with a couple of local youth groups. Some of the kids were obviously aspiring journos and gave us the full video interview treatment after the Q&A session.
It was great to get onstage later that night and blow the cobwebs away, and to see lots of familiar faces again from last year.
Tuesday 16th March - 1 day to go before the Music Festival officially starts. Lots of bands checking in to the hotel today... Boxer Rebellion, Chew Lips and our mates from last year, Angry Vs The Bear. We headed down to the Convention Centre as artist registration opened and got our artist wristbands... the passports to free food, drink and massages in the Artist Lounge!
Wednesday 17th March - SXSW Music officially kicks off today! First off was an interview in the Artist's Lounge with LP33TV... this was really cool as we got to pick up a load of freebie "gifts" supplied by their sponsors.
We loaded into the Four Seasons where we would be officially opening the Music Festival with a little acoustic set (last band to do this were Flight Of The Concords!). We always knew this would be a weird one...firstly because we were playing acoustically but also because we'd be playing to 200+ industry types whilst they eat their 3-course meal at the Delegates Welcome Dinner. Tom kindly pointed out afterwards that I had sworn all the way through their starters as we played The Wall. The quiet plucking of a guitar doesn't really drown it out the way full band does! We expected to be talked over for most of our set but they were actually quite attentive, the odd person turning their seat around and kind of forgetting their meal.
Also, here's a picture of Valley meeting Bill Murray who he accosted in the hotel lobby. If you know Valley, you'll have definitely heard about this. Apparently Bill hit him over the head with his wallet and told him off for not introducing himself.
We then dashed to the Alehouse where we were playing our showcase at 1am. We caught the back-end of Nathaniel Ratecliff's set, which was amazing. The stage was set into a little cave/alcove with church windows behind it and the drums were up on a plinth so it was really cool to have a different layout for once. It was a really fun gig despite my guitar (and Valley) getting soaked by the fog machine; it was very nice to see some faces that came to our gigs last year too.
Thursday 18th March - After a lie in, we grabbed some breakfast before heading downtown to the Convention Centre for a video interview with Play Music City of Nashville.
Today we played at the Welsh Party, which was being held at the British Music Embassy (Latitude 30). I think we were most excited about this gig as the venue has the reputation for the best PA, backline and engineers at SXSW. Also it has great bands playing everyday of the festival (The Drums, Chapman Family, Cate Le Bon, Smoke Fairies...).
When we got there, the Yorkshire party was still in full swing so we had time for a quick interview with Bethan Elfyn of Radio 1 who was hosting the party… you can see a video interview on her blog pages on the Radio 1 website.
It was an awesome gig, the venue was packed and I even spoke a bit of Welsh. We only had a 25-minute set so it flew by.
Tom and me then dashed off to the French Legation Museum to see Dum Dum girls and the XX, it was a big outdoor party with a little tent and they played just as the sun was going down. I've wanted to see the XX for a while and they didn't disappoint. We then headed off to the outdoor New Zealand party, then off to see our friends Angry Vs The Bear at Aussie's.
Friday 19th March - Unfortunately Hassall had to go to hospital after the Welsh Party gig as he'd been bitten on his leg quite badly and couldn't walk, so he's now up to the eyeballs on antibiotics. So we had a pretty laid-back day today, we had an acoustic gig at the Sheraton Hotel, which was fun; the Bowling For Soup bassist was watching according to Paul! We also went to the Barbados Party for some amazing food. Then Tom and I headed back to Latitude 30 to catch The Drums and Everything Everything. We had a nice chat with The Drums' singer afterwards; he said he wanted to catch one of our gigs before he left, the only one he could come to was acoustic but said that "it's all about the songs". He introduced us to his band-mate Jacob who told me his Grandma was also called Polly.
Saturday 20th March - Had another lazy day today, went for a swim and did a bit of second-hand shopping on Congress Avenue, then headed to the Radisson for another acoustic gig. We stayed a bit longer to watch the blues band Kill It Kid do their set; how something that brilliantly bluesy can come out of Bath I'll never know. A few of us went and saw Angry Vs The Bear play at Rusty Spurs, then headed back to Latitude 30 to see the end of the Moshi Moshi party where we watched Slow Club and had another nice chat with Jonathon from The Drums. I was surprised, he remembered us from the night before and came over to say hello (and for some reason stroked Tom's hand against his face). He asked for our EP so he could listen to it on the plane the next day. We've met quite a few bands on our journeys but I think The Drums were definitely the most friendly and down to earth; which is surprising considering the amount of hype around them at the moment.
We then dragged a slightly intoxicated Paul to a tattoo parlour called Sailor's Grave to get the outline of Texas tattooed on his leg.
Sunday 21st March - The Sunday is pretty much a comedown for 6th Street, the roads are open again and the crowds from the previous night are all in bed. We, however, we played our last gig on 6th Street at Sunday Bloody Sunday. We went onstage after a Japanese/New Zealand jazz-flute-death-metal band, which were pretty impressive.
The turnout was great considering it was still mid-afternoon. We then held an impromptu open-mic party back at the hotel bar that night and said goodbye to all the staff and people who had been helping us over the week.
Some great stuff came out of the week; it looks like we'll have a busy year with possibilities of New York, Germany, Latvia and a few UK Festivals. We're really looking forward to Great Escape Festival in May. Brighton is one of my favourite places, a few of us went last year as I had an acoustic slot and had an ace time, so we're really excited about it.