Duemig brothers represent CP at SXSW

Leah Mulaly

     Austin, Texas is known for its unique culture and focus on the arts, including its various annual festivals. One such event, South by Southwest (SXSW), took place March 12 through 21 this year. This year, Cedar Park High School alumni Joe and Erik Duemig, class of 2008, were given the opportunity to play in the music festival at a showcase organized by another CP alumnus, Kyle Michaels, class of 2008.

     The Duemigs’ band, The Window Theatre, played twice in a two-day showcase March 18 and 19 at The East Side Art House, a brand new venue completed just in time for SXSW. They played two different song sets that consisted of new songs and old ones from Joe’s Songs and Sighs EP. Attendees could get the EP for free if they joined The Window Theatre’s mailing list.

     “We’ve been going to SXSW for a long time, just hitting free shows,” Erik Duemig said. “This was our sixth year going. We really wanted to play SXSW for a while, but this is the first year we had the band to do it.”

     This showcase was one of many featured around Austin during SXSW, featuring little-known bands and costing little to nothing to the audience. Students could learn about these shows from chain-texts or random Facebook posts, and then arrive and see performances from bands.

     “I like the free shows, because you can see some of your favorite bands and it gives the smaller bands more exposure to the public,” Victoria Hutchings, freshman, said.

     The Window Theatre’s performance was energetic and showed the band members’ creative antics. At one point, Erik handed off his bass guitar to the pianist (who is proficient in many instruments) and proceeded to beat on a drum he took from the drummer. The transition was evidently planned, as it went smoothly like the rest of the performance.

     “I really enjoyed their performance,” Summer Swope-Bechtel, senior, said. “It was a low-key environment, and allowed for a very intimate setting with the band and the crowd.”

     The Duemigs also felt the performance was a high for them, but they have their eyes set on the future more than reflecting on the past.

     “I feel like our performances went very well, but playing at South By definitely put things into perspective for us,” Erik Duemig said. “It showed us where we stand and where we should be looking—going forward.”

     The audience enjoyed the show, and many of them sang along. The attendees were mostly Cedar Park alumni and current students. Ms. Iskra, AP English IV teacher, also attended.

     “They were very earnest in the way that they sang and played,” Iskra said. “They were very fresh and energetic and sensitive to the crowd.”

     The Duemigs are currently going to school in Chicago, so their band mates had to fly to Austin with the twins for the showcase. The Window Theatre was joined by a pianist and a drummer for the live show, but the band consists of just Erik and Joe. The twins were surprised by the reaction they received from their band mates at Columbia College when they were told about their opportunity to play at SXSW.

     “We didn’t realize how big of a deal SXSW is in other places,” Joe Duemig said.           

     As far as The Window Theatre’s genre of music, the twins prefer to not be classified. Like many artists’ songs, each of The Window Theatre’s songs may be a different genre, or a combination of several genres.

     “I hate when people ask me [what kind of music we play],” Erik Duemig said. “I could give you the typical genre answer, like ‘oh we play indie pop music.’ I guess that’s what we play but it’s pretty much on a song by song basis.”

     The band’s name comes from a couple of paragraphs in a book called Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. The passage was about loss of innocence, which Erik Duemig says has always been a theme of theirs—growing up without losing the sense of being a kid, carefree and fearless.

     “The name means a lot of things to us,” Erik Duemig said. “For one, the band is kind of a window into the sort of constant theatre of our two lives. The music thing to us isn’t just about writing music, it’s about a lifestyle of going out and doing things, really living, just refusing to be bored. We don’t want to let the fact that we’ve never done something before scare us out of doing it.”

     The showcase was organized in part by another Cedar Park alumnus Kyle Michaels, who started a production company called Vital Signs Promotions in December of 2009.

     “I sent [Mike, the owner of Red Blue Records,] an email asking if I could get one of his bands to play in a show and he emailed me back saying he was looking for a venue and possibly someone to partner with,” Michaels said. “We went out to lunch the next day and started talking about everything it would take to make the showcase work.”

      Michaels got her start working with Austin musician Danny Malone and his manager’s company, Paper Boat Music. She started her own company soon after she turned 20. To set up the showcase, she joined forces with Red Blue Records, a record company out of Boston. Michaels acquired use of The East Side Art House through a friend whose parents own it. She also obtained sponsors, such as Raw Revolution: Natural and Organic Live Food Bars and Rockstar Energy Drink, which provided several coolers full of free Rockstar drinks.

     The showcase was for all ages and a SXSW wristband was not required. Tickets were seven dollars for one day and ten dollars for both days, which included 24 hours of live music, plus four hours of DJs at an after-midnight dance party. Many of the bands performing set up tables outside the venue to promote themselves, handing out promos, free downloads and even CDs. Over 50 musicians performed live, and with two stages set up, there was little downtime in between them.

     “The showcase went really well, all the bands and the people attending were happy and, in my opinion, that itself makes it a success,” Michaels said. “We had a great turnout and more people came out as the days went on. It was definitely a success and a great way to kick off the company.”

     Next on the agenda for The Window Theatre is a summer tour with Vital Signs Promotions. Their SXSW debut provided them with extra publicity and revenue from T-shirt sales to ensure that this tour will happen. Everyone involved, along with all the fans of The Window Theatre, hope for a highly successful summer tour.