South by Southwest’s (SXSW) music festival started with a bang thanks to the Amplify Philly showcase that took place on Tuesday, March 15 starting at 8 p.m. The event was co-hosted by companies RECPhilly and StartupPHL at The Main, a venue seated in the bustling 6th Street of Austin, Texas.
The venue, which is able to hold about 1,000 people, sold out in a matter of hours. Festival goers waited in lines wrapped around the block for a chance to catch a glimpse of headliners Lil Dicky and DJ Jazzy Jeff.
“I’m very impressed with the line outside,” Bradley Halpern, 28, a festival goer from Chicago tells MiLLENNiAL. “This presence puts Philadelphia on the map. I never think of Philly as having a music scene.”
Amplifying the SXSW Scene
Throughout the night the crowd size steadily grew, eventually making the concert attendees look as if they were one body moving to the same beat. Dave Silver, 25, co-founder of RECPhilly and Yuval Yarden, program director of Philadelphia Startup Leaders were called upon by Comcast to spearhead the Amplify Philly initiative at SXSW.
“Our goals were to brand Philadelphia as a tech and innovation hub, raise awareness for our city, and highlight talent,” Yarden says. “In addition, one of my goals was to get Philadelphians excited about promoting Philly and I really felt that came through.”
RECPhilly has been preparing for this night since their slightly smaller showcase in 2015. This year they came back with a show bigger, better, and brighter than the last thanks to sponsors such as Comcast and Independence Blue Cross. Last year’s concert brought about 350 people together compared to this year’s which brought in close to 1,000. Crowds waited outside all night just to try and hear songs by some of their favorite Philadelphians.
Philadelphia in Austin
Individuals not familiar with the city were able to experience everything the City of Brotherly Love had to offer. “I’ve never been to Philly, but now I get to see a whole new perspective of the city,” Mark Maina Kinyanjui, 21, a member of the crowd, tells us.
The night began with about 12 RECPhilly members parading through the streets of Austin steered by a replica of Robert Indiana’s Love statue held high above the crowds. They were passing out flyers and proclaiming their love for Philadelphia as they led the way to The Main.
Twenty minutes before show time the Amplify Philly team were strategizing a plan B after a power outage left the entire multi-room venue in the dark. By some stroke of luck, the lights flickered back on only minutes before the crowd was allowed in. As fans slowly began filling the venue, indie duo Vita and the Woolf filled the speakers with their soul packed vocals and pop synthesizers.
The Show Must Go On
The night continued with Kid Felix, a band who brought a rocky vibe to the stage with their electric guitars and gravely vocals. DJ Aktive and MC Elixir kept the crowd entertained in between sets with a variety of remixes featuring music from Nirvana to old-school hip hop. Elixir didn’t let the crowd forget who’s show they were attending as he yelled, “Philadelphia is going to take over Austin, Texas tonight!”
Joie Kathos graced the stage along with her back up dancers as she provided sounds of fresh hip hop and some new electronic beats. Chill Moody kept the flow going in his red 76ers jersey as the crowd became engrossed in this authentic rhymes. By the time Moody hit the stage the team was informed they had reached max capacity, a cause for celebration.
DJ Dilemma turned the show interactive as he passed out red wristbands that lit up as the crowd clapped along with his rhythmic remixes. He kept it original as live saxophone was woven into his set. Later, the hip hop trio Ground Up kept the energy high and had concert goers singing along to their hit “Let’s Ride.”
One of the more anticipated acts of the night, comedic rapper Lil Dicky hit the stage sporting none other than a bright Hawaiian shirt. It just so happened to be his birthday, and as the crowd sang to him he decided to pull a Steve Aoki and throw the entire cake into the crowd.
Closing the show was DJ Jazzy Jeff who may best be remembered by repeatedly flying out of the Banks’ front door on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He ended the show on a high note with pop heavy remixes featuring songs such as his original “Summertime”, and Linkin Park’s “In The End”.
The Amplify Philly team is already back in action planning for SXSW 2017. “I hope to see some nationally recognized names up on that stage next year,” says Christian Vargas, a musician who works closely with RECPhilly.