South By Southbest: 10 Of SXSW's Biggest Success Stories

Senior Pop Culture Editor
03.12.13 2 Comments
Welcome to day one of music fun at South by Southwest 2013. Now get the hell out of Texas, tech NERDS!

Yesterday, we highlighted 26 up-and-coming bands playing in Austin this week, any of which could be the next Veruca Salt. Or even MORE successful than Veruca Salt. I know, right? How is that even possible? The alt-rock band got their big break at SXSW 1994, the same year American Thighs came out, making them one of the festival’s greatest success stories, right up there with pre-fame Feist, the Darkness, Franz Ferdinand, and Skrillex.

Here are 10 huge names who broke big, thanks to some help from South by Southwest.

1991 — Barenaked Ladies/Dixie Chicks/Uncle Tupelo (I’m combining these three acts into one because they’re playing as Uncle Barenaked Chick at my wedding. You guys are all invited)

1994 — Spoon (Sort of; the band was rejected by SXSW that year, so they played an anti-festival gig at the Blue Flamingo, where they were spotted by Matador Records’ Gerard Cosloy, who signed them to his label. Three years later, Spoon released their first album, Telephono, and finally played SXSW)

1998 — Fred Armisen (The SNL star had been the drummer for post-hardcore band Trenchmouth for years, but in 1998, he made Fred Armisen’s Guide to Music and South by Southwest, “a 20-minute video of Armisen playing different characters and messing with people” at the festival. It was his first big foray into the comedy.)

2000 — John Mayer (Then: after a successful SXSW gig, he was signed to Aware Records and released Room for Squares in 2002. Now: he’s sleeping with Katy Perry, another SXSW success story, and you’re not.)

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