The Heard at SXSW - The Appleseed Cast

The Heard - The Appleseed Cast from rachel helling on Vimeo.

At the age of twenty-four, I know that I may never truly learn the meaning of life. However, my recent experiences have at least distracted me from caring. I have many ambitions, some I may never realize. These ambitions are constantly changing, but since I was seventeen, I developed a weird bond with music. Yeah, everyone says the same thing, “music means so much to me”. I am by no means downplaying that. Granted, it took me four years of intense bonding, but I finally decided to start playing music again. Now, three years into playing the drums, I had the chance to experience something I had only dreamed about. This past March I had the insane privilege of playing South by South West. I mean, this festival is huge. Bands from all over the world pack themselves into the busy streets of downtown Austin, Texas; overflowing into every nook and cranny of the town. Every possible place in Austin that could possibly house a band transforms into a venue for the craziest three days that this city sees all year. Even beyond getting to play this huge festival, I got to play with and spend some quality time with the hometown heroes, The Appleseed Cast.

After having seen Appleseed countless times in Lawrence, I didn’t quite understand this bands true power. It is not to say that their Lawrence shows are not crowded, but there is no comparison to the response they get out of town. I was originally planning on going down to SXSW to play the drums in Hospital Ships. When the opportunity arose to interview as well as play with Appleseed, I could not help but get even more excited about the trip. The first show we played with Appleseed was the Graveface Records Showcase at Skinny’s ballroom. Skinny’s is a venue comparable to the Jackpot. As the night progressed, all of the incredible Graveface bands took the stage, each drawing a slightly larger crowd. By the time Appleseed played, the venue was packed. Music fans from all over the world had shown up at this tiny bar in Austin to see the Appleseed Cast perform. Maybe it was just me, but I feel the crowd was in some weird trance. They swayed back and fourth, chanting along with Chris like they belonged on the recordings. Needless to say, it was incredible to see a Lawrence band receiving such a warm welcome at one of the largest festivals in the country. They may not be playing arenas, but that night I felt like the sound was could have made Madison Square Garden crumble. Even if you were there and don’t agree with how incredible the show was, I don’t really care. No offense, but music is experiential. What I experienced is irreplaceable. The combination of pure excitement of playing the biggest show I have ever played, along with familiar faces in a strange place made that first night in Austin one of the most unforgettable experiences.

That next day Hospital Ships played again with Appleseed. This time the venue was drive in movie spot that was much more of a charming alleyway. I mean this with so much respect. There was homemade ice cream, a kick ass art gallery, great tunes and amazing people. Again, even in the heat of the day off the beaten path that is SXSW, Appleseed drew a strong crowd, literally out of nowhere. Following their set, I got to sit down with guitarist, Aaron Pillar. Each time I interview someone, I feel it turns into more of me picking their brain for little pieces of wisdom. AP has incredible things to say about his experiences in music and how important playing really is to him.

Honestly, without going out to concerts constantly, I would not have gotten to play South by South West. How I got there is a long story, but it is built upon the experiences I gathered through live music. Regardless of the outcome of my “music career”, no one can ever take these experiences from me. Even before playing music, witnessing people do what they love to do is incredible. No matter what form, passion is passion. I do not understand why some people play the types of music they do, or partake in certain activities, but it doesn’t matter. What really matters is when I can tell when someone loves what they are doing… and it always makes me smile.

That's when we fell in love another first time

-Nicholas

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