SXSW is now in its 30th year but Philly didn’t get its first official showcase until 2015, when REC Philly, a local music promotion company, took action. Its president and co-founder, Dave Silver, first attended the festival in 2014, and couldn’t understand why Philly didn’t have its own official showcase:
“I noticed that Chicago, D.C. and Detroit had their own showcases to show off their music and I was like, ‘Where the heck is Philly?’ It’s such a music town.”
Inspired by the experience, Silver and REC Philly brought the first official showcase of Philly music to SXSW in 2015, featuring acts like Ground Up, Freeway and even Lil Uzi Vert:
“We booked Lil Uzi Vert for $500 back then and now he’s a rock star,” Silver says.
Flash forward to 2017, and the official Philly showcase at SXSW has steadily grown, and is now branded as Amplify Philly, boasting big name partners like Comcast/NBCUniversal and Temple University, who are united by a mission to showcase Philly’s thriving music as well as tech scene. As program director, Silver still oversees all things music.
This year’s showcase lineup on March 14 covers a range of Philly sounds and includes Son Little, Bilal, Julian King, Queen of Jeans, Good Girl, The Dove & The Wolf, with indie rock heavy hitters, The Districts, headlining.
“Last year was a lot more hip-hop focused. This year, we have a really nice blend of alternative rock, soul, pop and indie rock. I’m really excited because that showcases a lot of Philadelphia’s music community,” Silver notes.
And what has Silver learned over the years about putting together a SXSW showcase?
“I learn everyday that you just can’t make everybody happy. There are seven spots in the lineup and we’re talking about a city with millions of people in it with years and years of music history, so it’s very difficult to do that.”
The Amplify Philly showcase will take place on Tuesday, March 14 from 8 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. at Buffalo Billiards (201 E. 6th St.) in Austin, Texas.
For more information, visit: amplifyphilly.com