Nebraska Exposed will return to South By Southwest for the fourth time on March 13, with bands and solo artists from Lincoln and Omaha going to Austin, Texas to play in front of music fans and industry folk from around the country.
This year, however, Nebraska Exposed will move about a mile east from the rooftop of Cheers Shot Bar, smack in the middle of 6th Street -- the giant music fest’s overcrowded main drag, to Shangri-La.
There, Nebraska Exposed will pair up with the Midwest Music Foundation’s annual two-stage event, MidCoast Takeover, which has taken place in the dive bar-meets-beer garden since 2012.
“We’re pretty excited about the move,” said Shannon Claire, development director of KZUM Radio, which sponsors Nebraska Exposed. “I reached out to the Midwest Music Foundation in the summer. They’ve had a showcase (at SXSW) for 10 years, and a lot of our bands end up playing on it. It’s a great location and it’s a lot more conducive for day parties. People go out to places like Shangri-La in the daytime before they go to 6th Street at night.”
Day parties, like Nebraska Exposed, are “unofficial” South By Southwest events. That is, they take place in the afternoon and early evening, before the official SXSW showcases begin at 8 p.m. Admission to most day parties, like Nebraska Exposed, is free. Badges and wristbands purchased for hundreds of dollars are required for entrance into the official showcases.
Shangri-La, which is outside downtown Austin, should be a much better place for the Nebraska day party than Cheers Shot Bar, both in drawing an audience and in production quality.
“Going to Cheers, you had to climb three flights of stairs with all the equipment and there is no accessibility for the bands,” Claire said. “They’d have to unload, then park blocks and blocks away. At the new venue, they can load in right at the stage and park nearby. And Midwest Music Foundation has it all set up, with a backline (drums, amplifiers, etc., to be used by all bands). It’ll be less production for us and the bands will have less stress.”
From the Midwest Music Foundation's point of view, pairing up with Nebraska Exposed made sense, because it often had difficulty filling out a full day of bands and bands that played Nebraska Exposed, such as High Up, Universe Contest and See Through Dresses, also played MidCoast Takeover.
Even though Nebraska Exposed is sponsored by the Lincoln community radio station, which doesn't reach Omaha over the air, the showcase nonetheless includes Omaha and Lincoln artists.
“We support all bands that are in Nebraska,” Claire said. “Nebraska Exposed has always had an Omaha and Lincoln aspect to it. Sometimes heavier in Lincoln, but there have always been Omaha bands on it.”
This year’s lineup is about evenly split between the two cities with Evan Bartels & The Stoney Lonesomes, The Fey, Mad Dog and the 20/20s, SAS, Orion Walsh and Will Hutchinson from Lincoln and Sebastian Lane Band, J Crum, Matt Cox, The Rare Candies and M Shah from Omaha.
Those artists applied to play the showcase, a new Nebraska Exposed procedure.
“In past years, we picked people who were touring, who just had an album out, who we knew were going down there anyway,” Claire said. “This year, we were able to use an application procedure. We had more than 35 bands and solo artists apply, which is more than we thought we’d get.”
A fundraiser for Nebraska Exposed will be Feb. 22 at the Zoo Bar. Evan Bartels & the Stoney Lonesomes and The Fey will perform at the show. All proceeds from the door and a raffle will go to support Nebraska Exposed and the artists playing the showcase.