Booking Agenty John Iskander Boils Down the Post-SXSW Bounty
With North Texas serving as a natural stopping point both on the way in and on the way out of Austin's South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival, fans in the region have always had scores of great shows to see a little closer to home before and after SXSW—but especially so on Sunday, the final day of the event.
Sometimes the sheer number of these buzzing acts coming through the region can be a little overwhelming. Which will you see? Which will you skip?
John Iskander, for one, was tired of choosing.
"There have always been too many options that day, the Sunday in Dallas of South by Southwest," Iskander says. "Every year, my friends and I have always been like, 'Oh shit, we can go to Fort Worth or Denton or Dallas.' And even in Dallas, there'd be multiple shows that night to go to. So I figured, get the bands me and most of my friends like in one thing."
With the connections he's made while booking shows to The Lounge on Elm Street, Club Dada and Pastime Tavern through his Parade of Flesh agency, Iskander was able to do just that. This year, he's secured 14 buzzworthy SXSW acts—Louisville's Young Widows; San Francisco's Thee Oh Sees, Sleep Sun, and The Fresh & Onlys; San Diego's Wavves; Calgary's Women; Sacramento's Trash Talk; Los Angeles' Abe Vigoda; Brooklyn's Pterodactyl; Atlanta's The Coathangers; Minneapolis' Vampire Hands; Providence's Howl; Tucson's Juarez; and Melbourne, Australia's My Disco—to play a single two-stage lineup at The Lounge that will begin Sunday afternoon and run into the night.
But what's so surprising about it all is that, for Iskander, putting together the lineup for this first South by South Flesh festival wasn't actually all that difficult.
"It's just a weird six degrees, because one of the guys in Pterodactyl [which played a Parade of Flesh SXSW-spillover show last year] books The Coathangers, and now Coathangers is playing the festival," Iskander says. "He's also in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, and they've played for me a bunch of times. It makes it easy after a while to book, because you start knowing everyone after a while—like, this guy left this band, and he's in this band now. It's very incestuous."
With so many bands on board to work with his agency, Iskander toyed for a while with the idea of a multi-venue spillover show featuring local and out-of-town acts—as he had last year with shows at Pastime Tavern and the Double Wide. But ultimately he opted to put the acts together in a single-club, single-day festival—mostly out of convenience for the audiences.
"This could be three or four competing shows," Iskander says.
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