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Checking Off The Bucket List And Looking For Sponsorships: Two Arizona Bands Reflect On SXSW Debuts

Tucson metal band Message to the Masses performing at SXSW.
(Photo by Sarah Ventre - KJZZ)
Tucson metal band Message to the Masses performing at SXSW.

For some musicians, the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas can be an overwhelming experience. Bands that are attending for the first time often feel a lot of pressure going into their performance, and in most cases only have one shot at it.

Message to the Masses is a metal band from Tucson. At their South by Southwest debut, they played to a small but attentive crowd.

“I’m really hoping that maybe some sponsorships or endorsements or management company comes up to us, because we are looking for all those things,” said vocalist Matthew Diana.

While most musicians are open to scoring their big break, not all of them are looking for it specifically.

At a different venue a few blocks away, Phoenix musician Qais Essar played with his band at a world music showcase. But Essar says he came for the experience.

"It’s like a bucket list for musicians. Like, I did South by Southwest now,” said Essar. “What is going to come of this? I’m not sure.”

Essar and Diana represent two of eight acts from Arizona playing in official South by Southwest showcases.

Sarah Ventre was a producer for KJZZ's The Show from 2014 to 2018.