AUSTIN, Texas — Many Oklahoma artists played multiple sets at the South By Southwest Music Festival, either hopping from stage to stage or sticking around to play backup — Chase Kerby of Defining Times backed up friends Daniel Walcher and Beau Jennings before playing his own set Wednesday night at the Buffalo Lounge, Oklahoma’s music, film and multimedia showcase.
But Skating Polly might set a record for Oklahoma bands at SXSW 2013. Before the event closes out this weekend, 12-year-old Kelli Mayo and 17-year-old Peyton Bighorse will have played seven different shows, including a private industry show for Virgin Mobile on Thursday. For the Norman/Oklahoma City punk duo, the goal this year is to have their music heard by as many fans and industry people as possible, and to absorb plenty of other bands’ music.
“I just hope that we’ll get new fans, that people will see us and hear our music,” Bighorse said.
“We want to meet as many people as we can,” Mayo said. “We’ve been walking around, seeing and hearing some bands. Yesterday, we met Lori Barbero, the drummer from Babes In Toyland, which was, like, a dream come true for me.”
Barbero, who moved to Austin five years ago, played in the Minneapolis-based alternative rock band Babes In Toyland from 1987 to 2001, and Mayo said she considers the band one of her biggest influences. Barbero said she sees a lot of Babes In Toyland in Skating Polly.
“It’s so great — it’s very primal,” Barbero said. “I was thinking: I didn’t start playing drums until I was the age of the two ladies put together. I was like, 26 or 27? What they’re doing is something that’s actually real: a lot of people don’t even play instruments anymore.”
On Wednesday, Skating Polly played the Girls Rock Camp, an event that allows aspiring elementary and middle school-aged female rockers the chance to hear experienced bands, learn about the business, play music and create logos and band names.
The experience of reaching out to so many different SXSW audiences will help the duo prepare for a busy spring, including the release of a new album, “Lost Wonderfuls,” produced by Exene Cervenka of the legendary Los Angeles punk band, X, and mixed by Kliph Scurlock of the Flaming Lips. In April, the band will open for the Flaming Lips in Indianapolis.
Mayo is on spring break, while Bighorse said she is “just skipping school” for SXSW. While they’ve maintained a punishing schedule, Mayo said this high level of activity just energizes Skating Polly.
“For Peyton and me, playing shows gives us an adrenaline rush,” Mayo said. “It’s really not been that crazy. Traffic and walking have been the craziest parts. But it’s exciting.”
– George Lang
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