There's a lot of pressure facing young bands this week. Playing up to, and maybe more than, 10 showcases in a few days is demanding on its own, but on top of that, bands have to impress the hordes of fans and industry professionals. SXSW isn't just about performing music, it's about selling a band and a brand so intensely that it will be remembered on Sunday. This stress might explain the meltdown that Foxygen had on stage at the Jagjaguwar showcase at SXSW 2013 on Thursday.
After having showed up an hour late to a set on Wednesday, Foxygen made a timely, though tender, entrance to their label's showcase. The week of interviews and handshakes and performing was visible on the San Francisco-cool shoulders of the entire band. Soon enough, singer Sam France vocalized the stress, and told the audience how much of a toll the week was taking on him, and someone in the crowd told him to stop complaining.
"Come on stage and talk to me about it, you f***ing coward. Come on, get on the f***ing stage,' France yelled back. He managed to make his way through "In the Darkness' before he stormed off stage.
Though most bands aren't showing it this week, Foxygen's incident on stage Thursday night is a perfect example of the mental and physical burden of SXSW. This is especially the case for a band like Foxygen who has just broken through with a much talked about debut album last month.
France was able to pull it together to come back on stage and apologize, followed by a spirited "On Blue Mountain,' but the switch had already been flipped. Having seen countless bands shoved under the lights, the crowd got a glimpse into the anguish behind the scenes of SXSW. This may have been one of the few moments of honesty among the scores of bands making a calculated public relations parade. But while it may be stressful for these exhausted young bands, the festival also is a learning experience, and a right of passage of sorts. To be able to survive one week of SXSW means musicians have a chance to make it through months on the road filled with performances, interviews, etc.