SXSW: The Portraits

Phrequency photographer Colin Kerrigan tackled a big undertaking down at SXSW in Austin, Texas. In less than a week, he took over 70 portraits of 26 artists who were performing during the music festival. Impressive, huh? Check out his portraits and their stories below.

SHORTCUTS: Haim | Brass Bed La Sera | Pictureplane | Sharon Van Etten | Teengirl Fantasy | Screaming Females | The Static Jacks | Tycho | We Were Promised Jetpacks | White Arrows | Young Magic | Maps and Atlases | Sun Hotel | Breton | Chairlift | Chelsea Wolf | Christopher Paul Stelling | Dan Deacon | Grimes | K Flay | Polica | Cheers Elephant | Ramona Falls | Grandchildren


Aside from running around and shooting portraits, I was at SXSW with my new film company, Out Of Town Films. We were supposed to meet up with Heartless Bastards in Philly, but they had to cancel the shoot due to sickness. So Erika (second from left) invited us over to her house when we were in Austin for a shoot and it was one of the best experiences from SXSW.



I was sitting in the Whole Foods tent, charging my cellphone at the solar powered charge station, and I overheard these girls and guy talking about a show they had just played. I had no idea who they were, butI  asked them for a photograph for my portrait series anyway. That night I went back to my friends house and checked them out. They're called Haim and they're actually blowing up (and deservedly so).



Brass Bed consists of four dudes from Lafayette, Louisiana. They were the very first act I saw at this year's SXSW at a bar/venue called Cheer Up Charlies. I had no idea who they were before I saw them, but they grabbed my attention with their stellar guitar work. After I spoke to them, I realized that I had seen Christian(second from left) play with Shearwater a few weeks ago when they opened for Sharon Van Etten at Johnny Brenda's.



La Sera is the side-solo project of Katy Goodman from Vivian Girls. I met her at the venue she was playing later that day and the security people were giving her such a hard time about an outside drink she was carrying around. So when we went outside to shoot a photograph or three, she asked me to sneak the drink back in via my camera bag. Mission accomplished.



I had just finished shooting photos of Teengirl Fantasy when this dude, Pictureplane, stumbled out of a car with a big-red suitcase wearing this ridiculously, awesome shirt. He had just got in to Austin and was figuring out where he had to go. He's good friends with Teengirl Fantasy so he was going to hang with them until he figured out where he had to be. He was also all for getting photographed in his new shirt.




It was a few hours before Sharon Van Etten would take the stage at the legendary Austin music venue, Stubbs BBQ. She was sharing the stage at NPR's Showcase with a few acts you might have heard of: Andrew Bird, Fiona Apple, The Alabama Shakes, and Dan Deacon. Even though, Fiona Apple was technically her opening act, that didn't seem to phase her.

We wandered around Stubb's before anyone was there, shooting photos and just hanging out as if we had known each other for years. It was one of those moments where I asked myself, "Is this really happening?"

If you missed her sold-out show at Johnny Brenda's last month, you'll have a chance to see her at Union Transfer in June. Do yourself a favor and go.



I had mentioned to these guys, Teengirl Fantasy, that I really wanted coffee and just by chance they were dying for some, too. So we ordered three iced coffees, that were really sweet (in a bad way), and we sat and chatted about life and how we had mutual friends at Oberlin College, where they had graduated from. It seemed as if they were thankful to be sitting in the coffee shop, away from the madness of SXSW that was happening outside. I was, too.



I was hanging around a venue, waiting to shoot portraits of another band, when I recognized the members of Screaming Females loading up their van. I had seen them a few years ago at the OX(RIP) so I asked them to be part of my portrait series. They asked me, "What do you want us to do?" and I said, "Whatever you want.." so the two guys took their shirts off and the rest is history.


The Static Jacks

The Static Jacks is a band that I have a ton of respect for. They're young, like 21 or 22, and decided to leave college after their first year and pursue what they love-- music. And they haven't looked back. Luckily for them, the whole music gig is working out pretty well. Keep an eye on them, they're definitely on the rise.



Tycho had just arrived in Austin for several shows at SXSW, which most artists are (for the most part) excited for. However, he had been and was still battling the flu. I felt really bad making him take a few portrait photos so I got my shots and let him go back to the RV to sleep for a few hours. I hope he's feeling better now.



Whenever I meet up with an artist/band from Europe, we always (most of the time, at least) bond over our love of football (aka soccer). We Were Promised Jetpacks is from Scotland and they're huge supporters of their local football teams. Teams I had never knew existed, but it was still a common interest we shared with a passion. And for the record, I'm a Chelsea supporter (Go Blues!).

These four guys were some of the most upbeat musicians I met all week and they even posed for a cellphone photo so that I could send it to my friend's dad who is borderline obsessed with them.

They'll be in Phily in May for a show at Union Transfer so make sure you read up on your Scottish football teams before you go.



White Arrows had just played a show and were rushing off to their next one across town. They were loading all their equipment into the RV, but I managed to snag a quick photograph before they jetted. I didn't know much about them, but their live show was pretty rad. I hope they come to Philly soon.



Young Magic popped out from the backstage area and posed for this photo. Not too many words were exchanged between us, but it seemed like they had done it before, just by the way they arranged themselves for the photograph. It made my job a lot easier and I was thankful for that.



Maps and Atlases is four guys from Chicago who play some crazy-math guitar music. Their music kinda makes my brain hurt but in a good way(if that makes any sense). I had just watched them play a show and asked them for a quick portrait outside of the venue against a wall. I thought the whole scene worked really well with the way they were dressed. After the photo, they quickly darted to put money in the meter so they wouldn't get ticketed. I wonder if they got there in time...



I ventured away from the madness of SXSW to visit a place known as The Skanky Possum, which is a few miles east of the center of town, to meet up with the New Orleans' band, Sun Hotel. We road in the back of a pick up truck, ate breakfast tacos, shot a film and shot these photos in the backyard of The Skanky Possum. It was one of those times where I said to myself, "I love Texas"(I probably said that 82 times throughout the week).



Breton is a band from the UK who make some dark, beat heavy indie rock music(that description just made me gag). They're young dudes who are doing their thing across the pond and will be in Philadelphia opening for We Were Promised Jetpacks in May.



Rarely when I take a photograph of an artist do they take command of the photoshoot, but Caroline Polachek from Chairlift was one of those rare exceptions. She picked the location, which was only a few feet away from where we were standing, and she rocked a pose right away without any instruction. She even helped me narrow down the photographs to use afterwards. Normally, I hate when people try to do that, but I was totally OK with her doing it. I can't wait to see them at Johnny Brenda's in April.



I first saw and heard Chelsea Wolfe back in October for a BrooklynVegan CMJ day party. I had no idea who she was, but I left that show amazed and bought her record when I got home. When I saw she was playing SXSW, I got really excited and reached out to her for a portrait. Her music is very dark and mysterious, so I wasn't sure what she'd be like in person. When I met and photographed her, she was so friendly and genuine. She has never played in Philadelphia so I told her to come soon and hang out.



Christopher Paul Stelling is one of those true artists types. He lives and breaths his music. He's in the midst of a tour right now where he playing practically every night for a month or so, and not once will he complain. He loves sharing his music. He's accompanied on stage and on the road by his lovely girlfriend, Julia Christgau.

They don't have a tour date in Philly just yet, but said they would be down to play a house show for us. Any takers?



It was late at night like 4 am. This crazy house party place called the 21st Street Co-Op was hosting a show where some of SXSW biggest acts were playing super-late night. The best way to describe this place is to imagine a mini-motel taken over by a ton of college kids who organize the craziest shows/parties you can imagine.

They had brought in several big acts including Dan Deacon. So after his show at like 530am, I grabbed him for a portrait where he randomly acquired a trophy to pose with.



Grimes was hanging out at the 21st Street Co-Op and had played a DJ set of sorts earlier on in the night. Unfortunately, I missed it, but I recognized her from a few videos I had seen prior to SXSW. I didn't have much time with her cause she was in 'hang-out mode' and 'not-photograph mode'. So this is what came of the 30 seconds I had with her.

She plays a sold-out show at the First Unitarian Church on Thursday. If you don't have tickets to that, I'm sure she'll be back again for a much bigger show.



K Flay is a graduate of Stanford University with a double major in psychology and sociology, but instead of pursuing a career in those respected fields, she decided to pursue her love of music. She relocated to Brooklyn and has been working on her new record, which should be out this summer. She's very down to Earth and can definitely freestyle better than anyone you know. Check her out.



POLIÇA was the one band I wanted to see most at SXSW. I had seen them open for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at Union Transfer in September and have followed them ever since. They're one of those bands that are on the tipping point and are about to become big time. They're playing a sold-out show at Kung Fu Necktie on Saturday and will probably never play a small like that again(sorry folks). Lead singer Channy has the type of dance that will make you instantly fall in love with her and the dual drummers will just blow your mind.



Cheers Elephant is not capable of taking a normal photograph, not with me at least and I am totally OK with it. These Philly dudes were walking out of The Shins show (which was rad) and I managed to hang with them for a few photos.



Ramona Falls was actually staying in the hotel where we had met in (and where I had shot Grandchildren) and he was one of the goofiest people I photographed all week. I didn't instruct him in anyway and he just did whatever. It was fantastic. The film I shot with him, as well, was equally as fantastic. He and his guitar friend wandered through their hotel and played Out Of Town Films a song. It was another one of those moments where i asked myself, "Is this really happening?"



Grandchildren were another band representing Philadelphia down at SXSW. We met up to do a film shoot in the lobby of a hotel that none of us were staying at. No one gave us a problem, though, and they let us do our thing. They have a hometown show coming up at PhilaMOCA, so check em out there!