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Behind The Brand - South By So What

AFENDS pal Warwick Hughes recently made the trip to the US of A documenting his experience at South By So What? See where his journey took him below.

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So I made the choice in January to head overseas to America for the first time and document everything and anything whilst being at SXSW and South By So What!? amongst it all. It actually turned into a much larger trip than I could’ve ever fathomed, so I guess we should start from the beginning!

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Melbourne > New Zealand > San Francisco flight. This was my first view of America, already too excited.

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Standard photo, this was before I got to customs, man that sucked, at this point I was keen to sink my teeth into a burrito and check out the sights!

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iPhone panorama shot of San Franciso from Pier 14 – this city is beyond beautiful and wish I had more time to walk around but had a bus to catch a couple hours after landing to LA!. Sadly didn’t get photo of a burrito but they’re massive and taste better than any burrito in Australia (seriously guys, pick up your game)

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Bus ride from San Franciso to LA, crappy iphone photo but this bus was a small charter (seated about 30) had leather seats, power points at every seat and wifi. For an insanely cheap price of $20, welcome to America.

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Had a nap, woke up in San Jose, amazing city

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Middle of no where between San Jose and LA, breath taking scenery though!

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First run in with fast food in the states, I asked for a small drink, this was the size I got (this is a large in Australia) so from this point I was preparing myself for a lot of weight gain!

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Made it to LA safely! My good friend Amanda was kind enough to let me stay at hers and show me around for the few days I was there, cheers legend! This bar was a block from hers, called Red Room, they had TVs above the bar and all they played was skate videos. Combine this with $3 beers and you have one happy Aussie! 

The first day was very uneventful, slept a lot to try and recover from jet lag (and a horrid hangover) but gave me time to have a look around Long Beach and start experiencing everything America had to offer!

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Streets of Long Beach

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Long Beach matches to it’s name, this walk sucked after a while, felt like summer!

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Hotels, literally on the beach, these buildings were insanely large and cool looking

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Ok so now I want you to think of every stereotype you’ve heard about America and especially Walmart, got them? Ok they are all 100% true and it was hilarious to see it. After I took this photo I saw a person behind me just push their shopping trolley full of items off the gutter and on to the road for no reason, causing shit to go all over the road and block cars, I didn’t stop laughing for 5 minutes. Had my first American Maccas experience in here too, their burgers are insanely cheesy and delicious (also $1, can’t go wrong with that!)

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Sunset, waiting out the back of Amanda’s apartment, looks like something out of a video game

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*takes deep breath in* HOOOOOOOTTTTTTTEEEEEEEERRRRRRSSSSSSS!!!! Hell yeah, I did it and it was awesome, I would show you a photo of the fatty food but cmon, who doesn’t want to see a Hooters babe instead!? 

Not long after dinner my phone died which sucked, Amanda took me down to Huntington Beach to show me the amazing piers and also took me to the street where Mitch Lucker had his motorcycle accident (RIP legend) so surreal being there and experiencing everything that I’ve heard about on the Internet for so long.

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Next day I revisited the same places as the day before but tried to do more (was hard when I was by myself), here’s a photo along Ocean Blvd of the Performing Arts Centre, this building is so much larger than you think, as well as the aquarium next to it.

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Seriously guys, it’s fucking massive.

That night Amanda took me to some rad night market that they have once a month in Long Beach, heaps of Art, music and stalls going on!

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I did flip my shit when I saw this, there were so many more rad artworks I wanted to photograph but being the good dude I am I respected them enough not to take photos of them

Night markets! So much cool stuff in these stalls that people made by hand to sell, commitment levels are high!

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This was beyond cool, some UV paintings, the details in all of this artwork was mental and all the profits they made went straight to charity (sadly forgot which one) it’s crazy how much passion these artists had, props to them!

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Saw this dog, couldn’t not take a photo of it. The size of the dogs over there are huge as well, America get your shit together

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Shinfo but relevant PBR photo with Amanda’s housemates, all a bunch of legends 

Ok so at this point I was just a drunken tourist on the other side of the world and just generally stoked to see what the culture is like over there. Little did I know that the next day was gonna give me a curveball and be one of the coolest days in my career (it got cooler later on, but let’s stick with this first) 

My buddy from back home (Ian) is now a full time tour manager in the states, at the time he was on tour with Neck Deep (UK pop punk band) and just happened to be in Long Beach the same time I was. I did what I do best, grabbed my camera and headed down to Fingerprints, a record store 5 minutes walking distance from where I was staying to hang out with Neck Deep and photograph/help film for their tour diaries while they did a signing/in store acoustic set.

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The lads with a very intimate crowd (they played a Blink cover and kids lost their shit)

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Fil (bass) signing 

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Ben (vocals) signing

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This is my mate Ian, he’s a legend and a dickhead all at once (and yes, he looks exactly like Ross from Friends)

It was crazy seeing how committed these kids were to the band and the guys were beyond stoked on it, their tour in total sold out nearly every show, not bad for a first headliner run in the states! Best part is that they were beyond grateful for all the fans they had and were super stoked to be in America, they invited me along to their show that night to photograph/film some more stuff, which just happened to be at Chain Reaction, one of the most iconic music venues in LA (just casually) 

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Yup, there it is, Chain Reaction. I’ve seen so many videos and photos taken here over the years on the Internet and dreamt of one day visiting this venue, guess dreams do come true! This was before all the madness started

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Knuckle Puck (USA) supporting Neck Deep on the tour, this was absolutely fucking wild.

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Neck Deep before they went on stage in the infamous green room, as you can tell they’re nervous as hell

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And this is why they were nervous

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I think this image sums up the night perfectly; so many stage dives, so much sweat. Sold out show in the most heated room ever, it got to a point where no matter how much I wiped my lens clean it always stayed foggy. Americans go hard! 

On the way back to Amanda’s she took a detour to take me to Skyline Drive, basically it’s a giant hill/small mountain with mansions on top and oil rigs (you heard right) from there you can see the city lights from Long Beach, LA and San Jose

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Mind blowing

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To the left, an oil rig, to the right, multi million dollar homes (what a good selling point!)

Next day was a full blown tourist day visiting the city of LA, Hollywood and Santa Monica. Amanda was kind enough to be my guide for the day! This was also my last day in LA before flying out to Texas

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Coming into LA

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This is the first place we went to, yeah cliché I know but after seeing it years ago on TV thought I’d give it a go

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Bought a global paperweight for $10, most shinfo thing ever

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Just hanging with my pals at the Wax Museum, this place was so damn awesome

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Amanda finally allowed me to take a photo of her, only because it was with Tom Hanks

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“AM I FLYING JACK!?” As if you wouldn’t do this

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Amoeba records, unfortunately couldn’t make a stop here as we were on a tight schedule to get to the Hollywood sign and Santa Monica so enjoy the car view!

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Hollywood sign from a distance, this was literally as close as we could get (I even cropped the photo so it looks like we’re closer) as they blocked off the roads that get you really close to the sign, still stoked though!

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Santa Monica pier, hell to the yes

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Circus was in town, was so surreal being at the pier, again I think it’s just seeing it on TV so much growing up made it so much harder to believe that I was actually there. Incredible place though and definitely will visit again!

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Magical, took this as I was walking along the pier, American sunsets are awesome as hell

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Afterwards Amanda took me to In N Out for dinner, this place definitely lived up to it’s reputation (except for the fries, they sucked) 

TEXAS

It was sad to say goodbye to LA so soon but I cramped more in than I ever thought was possible of doing, definitely a trip to remember already!

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They said the flight was going to be a full one as it was delayed by an hour from LAX, I guess they didn’t count my row then, most leg room I’ve ever had (and yes, I did take it all up)

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Saw this and had to take a photo, it was nothing but baron land for miles and then boom, random mountains, looked insane though!

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Average view on my flight to Austin

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SXSW, a few days of a drunken blur. This place was beyond chaotic and way bigger than I expected. The entire time I was thinking “oh yeah it’ll be at some massive grounds like they do at Soundwave and there will be tents everywhere” boy was I far off. They block off an entire section of the city, there’s people and music just everywhere you go, lots of alcohol and weed going around.

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Oh yeah, this happened the second I got into the party section of SXSW, I got stuck in the middle of some anti gun law protest. It was scary as hell, apparently the government is trying to take away the gun laws in Texas or something and these people aren’t happy about it. They were walking around with massive semi automatic weapons around their necks with signs saying “Come and Take Them” I was beyond terrified so I bailed quickly

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People performing everywhere on the streets to get attention, so intense 

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House of Vans, a few hours after taking this photo in the evening a car broke through the barrier that’s to my right and ran down 20 odd people, an incident that killed 3 people. Crazy to think I was going to come back here that night to party but opted not to, very lucky to be alive!

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Got tattooed the next day, nice gap filler, only $100 too. Definitely a fan of how cheap everything is in the states!

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Went to Wendy’s, said my name was Warwick, this is what they thought it was. Time for a name change?

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Chaos, absolute fucking chaos. Late afternoon on 6th Street, this was when it was getting full on, people flocking from everywhere to be apart of the party festivities that happened at night!

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State Capitol, got here just in time for sunset, good work Sun! This building was rad to look at

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A taste of what it’s like at night, massive street party! People from all around the world wanting a piece of the pie I guess, I thought it would piss off the locals but it was the complete opposite. Every Texan I met were insanely humble and helped out in anyway that they could, bunch of legends!

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This is a very accurate picture on how it felt during the day at SXSW, this dude woke up after I took this photo and started yelling at me so I ran like hell, sorry mate!

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I met up with the guys in Comeback Kid on my final day in Austin, I took this photo of Backtrack by absolute chance while I was still getting my settings right on my camera, talk about luck huh?

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Couldn’t get many photos due to crappy lighting but it’s crazy to see this band still killing it after all these years. Kids were going off! Very surreal moment for me, standing side stage for a band I’ve been listening to since I was about 16. Best bunch of dudes though, thanks for hanging out!

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This is Shelby, she saved my ass and made sure I got my bus in time for Dallas. Thanks for being a legend!

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Welcome to dark, freezing cold Dallas, in time for South By So What!?. The bus ride was pretty crappy and I had to walk an extra 3km because the bus dropped me off further from the venue than I expected but I made it!

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Just a couple of bands, I rocked up for Day 2 & 3. Working with letlive./ Of Mice & Men/ Bring Me The Horizon the first day. Second day with The Ghost Inside, I Killed The Prom Queen, Comeback Kid, Neck Deep and Knuckle Puck

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Made it, so much rain but the kids didn’t care at all, commitment!

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This is my mate from back in Melbourne, Ben. He’s Of Mice & Men’s drum tech now and managed to hook this up for me, cheers mate!

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letlive. do a good job at destroying everything. I’ve heard about this band for so long and saw them at Soundwave for the first time before flying out to America, they lived up to their expectations and are the most humble dudes in the world

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Sadly we got rained out and the headliners couldn’t perform (including Of Mice & Men) but managed to make friends with a ginger bearded photographer Casey who was kind enough to let me stay at his place. As you can tell by this photo, shit got very real very fast!

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In N Out, again. Left to right – Myself, Casey, Kara, Ray. All photographer legends

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Casey and his wife own the best dog in the world, her name is Lola and she’s tiny as hell

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The next day was even worse weather wise, top of 10 degrees with an insane wind chill factor. Everyone was hating life but still stoked that I got to be apart of the festival, at least it stopped raining?

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Rugged up crowd!

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Knuckle Puck setting it off 

Next up was I Killed The Prom Queen, at this point I was freezing to the point where I couldn’t feel my fingers so taking photos became difficult haha

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Yup, not a fan of the cold, behind the drum kit for IKTPQ

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At this point I couldn’t go back to the dressing rooms as I was shooting for most of the rest of the day. So I had to suck it up and try to stay as warm as I could for the rest of the day.

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Snap of Hundredth while I waited for Neck Deep to get ready

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As you can tell, Neck Deep were super stoked to play in freezing cold weather, even this was too cold for these British dudes haha “my fingers feel like I’m playing a cheese grater on this guitar!”

I didn’t photograph Neck Deep’s set, just helped film for their tour diaries and had to bail after a few songs as I was shooting The Ghost Inside

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Behind the throne

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Wassup Vigil?

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Setting it off

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I feel like this passes as a hair commercial, “maybe he’s made with it, maybe it’s the breakdown”

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Couldn’t decide which of these to put in this blog, so have both! Jim from The Ghost Inside giving the crowd some love 

After The Ghost Inside I had a little break, grabbed a feed then shot Comeback Kid to finish off my time at South By So What!? Enjoy the photos!

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One of my all time favourite photos, ever

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That’s a wrap for South By So What!? Had so much fun at this festival and definitely keen to do it again next year! 

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Whataburger feeds! Left to Right- Casey, Jordan, Alex and Vigil. These burgers ruled. This was my last night in America and spent it with a bunch of legends, couldn’t believe that the last 2 weeks went by so quickly

My final day was the longest travel day in the world, Dallas > LAX > New Zealand > Melbourne. Around 20hrs of flights in total, the long distance sucked but caught up on a lot of sleep along the way. Enjoy the rest of the photos from a plane!

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Dallas from above

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Middle of no where, snapped and edited this photo on my phone, damn technology you’re scary!

 

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LA from above

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“If there’s a doctor on board, please make yourself known to the cabin crew” is what I heard while trying take photos of whatever this building is leaving LAX

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Last photo I took of the trip, sunrise coming into New Zealand, standard view.

 

In all, I did more in these 2 weeks than I ever thought was imaginable, saw some insane places, met the biggest legends, worked with bands I grew up listening to and having the best time while doing it all. Thanks for everyone who made this trip possible, I’ll be back to visit soon!





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