SXSW was filled with some great bands this year, one of them being Luke Sweeney from San Francisco, who played the inside stage of Cheer Up Charlie’s, a colorful venue that serves fancy cocktails and kombucha on tap. Luke Sweeney and his band were dressed in tropical print emulating their lively energy and spirit of the quirky venue. The band packed the inside space with a large crowd as soon as they started playing as Sweeney began jumping and dancing around stage— creating a great atmosphere to start off the lively night. His catchy tunes were sure to keep the crowd moving, including myself, with everyone’s heads bobbin’ and hips shakin’. Sweeney’s sound is whimsical and amiable with psychedelic pop and rock and roll influences. One of the songs the band played that night included “Spousal Arousal,” which was dedicated to all (two) of the people in the crowd that admitted to being in serious relationships. They ended the set with a track off their most recent album Adventure: Us titled “Miss Me,” a catchy song to groove to.
I spoke to Sweeney after the show and I asked him how he describes his own music and he explained that he has to answer that question so many times that he describes it as “romantic comedy,” “adventurous psychedelic, pop, soul music” or “body surf rock” since he lives 10 blocks from the ocean but doesn’t surf in it. He also mentioned how tricky it is to be in Austin, or SXSW, as an unsigned band or a small label like their band. He then discussed how he gets slightly annoyed at the amount of people that come to events like SXSW to go to conferences that teach you how the music industry works. Sweeney believes from his experience touring and the like, there’s a simple formula to understand how the music industry actually works. He went on to explain that creating a self-recorded video on youtube and being stumbled upon by a tastemaker is the same thing as playing your music and being found— it all comes down to being discovered— it just requires right timing and quality music and performance. He said he’s “tired of people pretending that there’s some secret formula to the music industry”…”not saying the conferences are disingenuous at all” because there is a lot you can learn about the industry from conferences like this.
I asked Luke how he felt about playing at SXSW and he said it felt normal since he played the same venue last year. Playing a solo show with no instruments at a huge venue like The Warfield would be a pretty big deal, but this was just like playing at any regular old venue especially since he’s played at Hotel Vegas, another venue in Austin, TX, before playing SXSW last year.
I remember the first time I saw Luke Sweeney at Streetlight Records on Pacific Ave. and there were only a few people in the shop, including me and a few of some of my friends plus the customers that were browsing the record store. Whilst listening to the band, I was so surprised that more people weren’t aware of who Luke Sweeney was— he deserves so much more credit than he gets!!
He’s a really genuine and talented guy that supports college and community radio, what more can you get?? 🙂
So if you haven’t heard him yet, check out his music here:
& these are a few of my favorite tracks: