New SXSW venues learn the ropes


by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and Photojournalist DAVID GARDNER

Posted on March 15, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 15 at 6:31 PM

AUSTIN -- This is the biggest South by Southwest the Capitol City has ever seen, and there's no end to the places you can hear live music. Many of the new venues hosting bands are learning the ropes this year.

At Holy Mountain in the heart of downtown, the crowd enjoyed live music Friday, and the drinks were flowing.

"It's been going really well," said James Taylor, owner of Holy Mountain. "The amount of planning that goes into things ahead of time makes the day of execution easier."

Holy Mountain opened in October of last year. This is the first time the venue has been involved in SXSW. It's hosting shows during the day and late into the night.

"Everyone's pretty much working doubles every day," Taylor said. "I've tried to stagger shifts so people get some rest in, and I've told everybody money is nice, but your health is far more important."

Taylor says things at the new bar are going smoothly, and his hardworking team is the reason why.

"I think we've all lost our voices a little bit, and patience wears thin, but we've got a good family here," Taylor said. "I think the city has made things more streamlined, even things like getting our orders."

Holy Mountain is just one of many new venues in Austin that are holding their first SXSW showcases this year. While some say it's a fast learning process, others are finding it easy to cope with hundreds of new customers that head their way. 

Those at the established venues say dealing with SXSW challenges is just like riding a bike.

"We've been down this road before. There's really nothing that can surprise us at this point," said Cole Beatz, a manager at the Blind Pig Pub.

Bealz says in years past, they learned to plan ahead when it comes to thirsty guests.

"Normally we order for two to three days at a time. We're pretty much running on a day-by-day basis to see how much product we move, and we go from there," Beatz said.

Beatz believes SXSW has gotten so large that the biggest challenge now is not knowing who's going to show up.

"Who's going to be here? You never know. As South by's gotten bigger and bigger, you never know what celebrity large name act is going to walk on stage," Beatz said.

Of course there are also plenty of pop-up clubs during SXSW. The bar owners and managers KVUE spoke with say those are probably the most difficult venues to handle during the festival.

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