The Madison-based music label Crustacean Records announced Friday that it would be presenting a music showcase at the 2008 South By Southwest conference and festival in Austin. The show is tentatively scheduled for March 13 at the Molotov Lounge, and will feature several bands on the label, including at least two from Madison.
"There is no finer rock music fest out there in terms of the huge number of important acts playing in overwhelmingly intimate venues," declared label co-owner Jake Shut in an announcement about their big break.
Headlining the showcase is Peelander-Z, a Japanese punk trio based in New York City that has played the High Noon three times in just over a year. The group was also a headliner for a 2007 SXSW showcase at the Molotov, a Russian-themed bar located on West Sixth Street near Austin's emerging Market District. Joining the bill are two Minneapolis bands, the punk duo Birthday Suits and the rock trio Ouija Radio, both of which are also regular visitors to town. Representing Madison are the energetic punk pop darlings Screamin' Cyn Cyn and the Pons and the gritty punk quartet The Gusto, both of which had new Crustacean releases this year. The slate will also feature one more band yet to be announced.
"The story of how ended up getting this showcase is pretty good," says Shut. It begins with a band named France Has The Bomb, a side project of Hideo Takahashi of Birthday Suits and Dan Henry of its Crustacean labelmates Awesome Snakes. After playing a show at the Inferno in early November, Shut hosted an afterparty at his house, where Takahashi asked him if Crustacean would release a split 7-inch featuring Birthday Suit and Peelander-Z. These two groups have toured together and have been talking about joining forces for some time.
"The next morning I verified it wasn't just drunk talk," says Shut, and learned that the Austin lounge was interested having the comic punk group return for SXSW in 2008. "As a result of putting out this split 7-inch, we could make it a complete showcase with five of our other bands," he notes. "The point being is that it was goofy that this afterbar conversation turned into a showcase at the biggest music industry convention around."
While the March 13 date remains tentative, meanwhile, all five bands announced so far are set having received confirmation from SXSW on Thursday. "The TBA is probably going to be another Crustacean band, but it could be another group," he notes.
The showcase at the Molotov Lounge will also serve as the release party for the 7-inch, which is due out in March. "It's a huge honor that two bands almost too big for our label asked us to do that," says Shut. "In addition I'm a huge freak for Japanese music so it will be great." The label will also be shooting video at the concert, and is planning to add a highlight reel from there as an extra in its new live performance DVD due out next July.
Crustacean doesn't currently have any other concrete plans for SXSW, but Shut expects that the label will be involved with other shows in Austin, be it another official showcase or among the numerous unofficial bar shows and house parties held during the convention.
"For a record label to get an entire showcase at this event really helps elevate you from a local/regional label to one that has a national stature," says Shut. "It really is one of the best things that ever happened to this little record label. It will help us get better distribution, as well as help us return to SXSW and go to other conventions."
Crustacean also hopes local fans will hit the road next spring to join in the revelry. "SXSW is by far the best music event I've ever attended," concludes Shut, "and this showcase is going to be funner than fuck!"