The Smoker's Club Tour hit Dallas last month, and it was a busy night, like so many Thursdays in our town. I sit in my car on Elm Street, trying to get around a sudden surge of traffic. I hear sirens. Four blocks away from Trees, I can smell the marijuana, mixed with the smell of burnt rubber. I can make out a line curving around Trees, then see the outline of a car flipped upside down and EMT workers trying to pull someone out.
The teens waiting in line turn their attention back to their phones. I wait outside, staring at the car, wishing I could be more Generation YOLO about the whole thing, but I keep thinking that if I wasn't running ten minutes late, maybe I would have been in that car accident. It's all about timing.
Scoremore promoter Sascha Stone Guttfreund comes running out the side door of Trees. He's responsible for bringing this tour to town, and it's sold out, like many of his shows. We greet and he glances at the car. "I was in a rollover accident before," he says.
If you're a fan of the Scoremore brand, you're likely familiar with 23-year-old Guttfreund's genesis story: College kid turned promoter sells out shows in Austin by tapping into the collegiate community and booking burgeoning hip-hop and dance acts. Austin shows turned to Houston shows, then San Antonio, then Dallas. College Station and Lubbock are their newest markets, and Scoremore has made the complete evolution into a boutique-booking agency that both fans and artists adore. But Guttfreund isn't doing the work alone. The team has moved well past the fresh-faced college narrative into something more serious.
Before you were bouncing to Big Sean, Guttfreund and business partner Claire Bogle, 22, were busy driving him all over the state. "We are just willing to do that kind of work, and it was fun," Guttfreund recounts as the line outside Trees grows longer. "In Houston, I figured out a way to book Big Sean into the restaurant at House of Blues. It was 600 people in that room and it was packed."
Since it was technically at House of Blues, it was on their website, being promoted right along with the main-room acts. Bun B came to that show. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when House of Blues' talent buyer realized what was going on, or when the Scoremore crew was busy picking up silverware from the floor, because that was just the kind of work they were willing to do.
The Scoremore "they" is a special recipe. Local representative Alex Thompson, 24, provides the Dallas connection to the Austin-based business. After promoting a few shows on his own here, Thompson says it just made sense to join them. Guttfreund clowns, "I put him on the list for five shows, we had to steal him."
Thompson keeps the lay of the land for Dallas venue contacts and Scoremore's local promotional team. He's also the man helping curate the openers when a local act has the opportunity to support. "Dustin Cavazos and Anonymous Culture always represent for us," he says. "SamUiLL and Pihon have been incredible too." He is effusive of Cavazos' ability on the stage and ability to push tickets. "I see those fans come just for him, they don't even stay for the headliner." We talk about their recent shows with The Weeknd and Frank Ocean in particular, but he keeps coming back to the fact that he works hard for Scoremore because they are family.
"Sascha, he is my brother," Thompson relates. "The venues we work with, we love. And Claire, [she] is our queen."
Scoremore's first lady has been with the operation since its inception in 2009. A longtime friend of Guttfreund, Bogle came to Austin from Albuquerque during her first year at University of New Mexico. "I was working in marketing, and I was going to be a doctor or a dance teacher," she says. "And I loved hip- hop."
Wanderlust turned into an opportunity to help Scoremore establish itself. Much credit has been given to their ability to access the University of Texas' social network, and Bogle was the first to hire those gatekeepers. "We had four or five internships that the university would count for college credit, but we had a lot of people willing to do the internships for no credit at all," she says.
I ask if there was a moment when Scoremore started to feel serious.
"Oh, it was for sure with J. Cole," Bogle remembers of the 2010 Houston show. "It was J. Cole's first tour and he told us it was the first time anyone outside of Carolina knew the words to his songs." Guttfreund adds, "In that moment, I realized we could help connect the dots. We weren't just introducing his fans to him. We were introducing him to his fans."
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Scoremore is bent on creating moments like those. They've started collaborating with bigger names like AEG and LiveNation, and are on the brink of their first arena show with Mac Miller, a longtime Scoremore favorite, at the 6,000-seat Dr Pepper Park on October 12. He's the perfect example of an artist Scoremore responded to early, and whose shows have already sold out nearly every booking.
LiveNation's Tom Loudermilk pinpoints why: "Scoremore have done a nice job of establishing themselves as tastemakers. Their fans and followers trust their opinion on artists and are loyal to the brand."
Zach Quillen from The Agency Group books Big K.R.I.T. and Wiz Khalifa, two acts Scoremore brought to town in the last year. "I think the main thing that struck me initially about Sascha was his passion for the music," he says. "His openness to learning new things stood out to me and he is a student of his work. That takes a certain humility that can be rare in our industry, and I respect that about him."
Tastemakers with ambition, it turns out, can run the show. Timing has allowed them to grow simultaneously with the artists they book, their parallel careers ascending together. Thompson recounts Guttfreund's observation that "Mac Miller is one of the artists I've been able to sell without ever even printing a flier." Mic in one hand, ticket in the other, they're hoping the timing will work.