Sometimes you make a huge impression when you least expect to.
Such was the lesson learned by Dallas indie rock band MOTORCADE when it ventured down to SXSW in Austin last month. The band's performances didn't go as well as its members had hoped — “We thought we were dreadful," guitarist and vocalist James Henderson said via email — but they returned home to hear their praises sung by Greg Kot, the esteemed Chicago Tribune music writer and co-host of the wildly successful radio program Sound Opinions.
"What was so ironic about the way we found out was that John Dufilho [bassist and vocalist] and I were literally sitting in my backyard with friends hanging out, having beers and describing how we thought our show was not as ‘on par’ as our others had been,” Henderson said. “Then literally our phones start blowing up from our label and other bandmates telling us about Greg Kot going on and on about our show and the record. Needless to say, we felt a bit better about SXSW this year and just really glad that the album's getting not just local attention but a nationwide one as well.”
Kot’s admirations went above and beyond an endorsement. As part of their annual SXSW recap episode, Kot and co-host Jim DeRogatis reported on bands and artists that left positive impressions on them. Kot’s discovery of MOTORCADE was a happy accident.
“It was one of those moments where you go to see Band A, and on the way in the door, you see Band B and go ‘Wow, who is that?’” Kot explained on the podcast.
Kot tracked down recorded material and absolutely gushed over MOTORCADE’s recently released self-titled debut. He called the album’s arrangements “consistently smart” while lauding the band’s penchant for writing great hooks. Calling all 11 tracks essential, he took things even further.
“I haven’t heard an album this consistent from an indie rock band in a really long time," he said. "Just when you think guitar-based bands have said it all, you realize that a great song is just a great song. And this band has 11 of them.”
He played a portion of “Walk With Me” before moving on to other topics. It’s the type of praise that a lot of bands wait their entire careers for. The members of MOTORCADE — Henderson, Dufilho, Andrew Huffstettler and Jeff Ryan — couldn’t be more excited about the accolades but found this year’s SXSW experience less trafficked than it has been in years past.
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“To be honest, it just didn't feel that busy down there,” Henderson said. “On Saturday afternoon, I walked right into Hotel Vegas' day party. There was absolutely no line at all. It was busy, but it just didn't seem as jam-packed as it has been in years past. We had a great time and again just glad someone like Greg Kot was there and dug what we were doing. That's what it's all about.”
Moving forward, MOTORCADE will look to ride this wave of momentum.
“As far as what we have planned next, we've got some great shows lined up,” Ryan said. “We’re playing Twilite Lounge's fifth anniversary on May 27 with our longtime friends Halls of the Machine as well as playing up at Andy's in Denton with Josh T. Pearson on May 12. There are a couple of other surprises planned as well. Stay tuned."
MOTORCADE’s self-titled album is available on Idol Records.