AUSTIN — It's a shock to the system for independent bands making their South by Southwest debut. Parking, unloading gear and traveling through the heart of bustling Sixth Street can be a bit much for any young, wide-eyed band.
But it's no big deal for Bronze Radio Return, which showcased its latest album "Light Me Up" in the capital of Texas during the celebrated, annual music festival that got under way March 11. The six-piece band delivered the new pop-rock-folk amalgam to an enthusiastic audience of about 500 at a Showtime day party.
It was one of five shows in three days rendered by Bronze Radio Return, which completed its fourth run of SXSW, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
"It's always a blast here but it is an adventure to put it mildly," vocalist-guitarist Chris Henderson said. "It's crazy. We have experience and we can cope since we've seen so much down here. But performing here is like jumping into a pit of hyenas. You jump in and wrestle with them and you make the best of it."
In order to score parking for their gig, Bronze Radio Return paid a taco truck owner $50 so its members could park their van for an half-hour. The BRR vehicle was 2 miles from the venue.
"It's absurd but you can't let it get you down," Henderson said. "Playing here is the easy part. The logistics can be a nightmare but you just have to deal with it."
Henderson and his bandmates, guitarist Patrick Fetkowitz, multi-instrumentalist Craig Struble, bassist Bob Tanen, keyboardist Matt Warner and drummer Rob Griffith, were perky arriving in Austin, despite a 15-hour drive from Tucson. "We have to be up and running here," Henderson said. "It's not just the opportunity to play but we get to meet the press and see old friends. Sure, the driving to get here was substantial and look at this, it's gorgeous."
Sun-splashed days with temperatures in the '80s is the norm for SXSW. "We love Texas," Henderson said. "It's different than most places but amazing."
Bronze Radio Return recorded "Light Me Up," which dropped in October, in El Paso last year. "It's a different vibe there than Austin but it was another great experience for us," Henderson said.
The band returned to Hartford last week to prepare for its first tour of Europe in April. "We've spent a lot of time in Texas but it'll be good to get back to Hartford," Henderson said. "Hartford's home."
Sorority Noise, which also showcased at SXSW, can't say the same anymore. The hard rock act is in the SXSW guide as a Hartford band but the group, which formed on the University of Hartford campus in 2014, has moved to Philadelphia.
"After we graduated last May, I had to think about where we were going to go and Philadelphia is a great city and it's not far from Hartford," guitarist Andy Ackerman said. "We're still listed as Hartford. We got our start there. We will go back there but we moved on."
Sorority Noise, which also includes vocalist-guitarist Cameron Boucher, bassist Ryan McKenna and drummer Charlie Singer, is finishing a four-song EP, which is quite different from the heavy, abrasive gut grind the band rendered at SXSW.
"The new songs have a different dynamic," Ackerman said. "They're softer and we'll get out behind that in April."
Sorority Noise impressed during a BrooklynVegan showcase with 400 fans bobbing their heads during the band's 45-minute set.
"That made it all worth it," Ackerman said. "The people out there were into it."
At the moment Sorority Noise is on a national tour with Turnover and Citizen.
"Sorority Noise is phenomenal," Turnover vocalist-guitarist Austin Getz said. "They're going somewhere."