Unlike Harsh Toke, Soft Lions, and Prayers — San Diego bands that headlined at this year’s South by Southwest music festival — the Donkeys were one of many bands who made the trek to Austin to play as festival crashers.
“We were part of the unofficial party thing,” says Donkeys keyboardist Anthony Lukens about his band’s guerilla gigs. Three of their four shows in Austin were at Cheers Shot Bar, which was in the heart of the action. “We were in the shit,” Lukens tells the Reader from the road between gigs in Portland and Seattle. The day they got back from Austin, the Donkeys took off for a tour of the West.
This was actually the third SXSW appearance for the country-tinged band. They almost didn’t go this year.
“It’s like a week of chaos,” says Lukens. “There are so many people your cell phones don’t work. The food is overpriced. And you end up getting hammered.”
But the promoter who first brought them to SXSW made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. “He agreed to fly us in. All we had to take was our guitars. He paid us well. He’s really good to us. The first time he booked us he told us our show was at 12. We assumed midnight, but it was 12 noon. And we were glad because we were so hung over. But he still booked us again.”
Lukens says SXSW is so packed that it’s difficult to see the bands you want to see. “We wanted to see Viet Cong or Thee Oh Sees, but we couldn’t make it happen. We were hoping to hang out with Soft Lions but [94/9 DJ] Tim Pyles was the only one we met [from San Diego].”
The Donkeys first performed at SXSW in 2009.
- Friday, April 3, 2015, 8 p.m.
3615 El Cajon Boulevard,
“It’s gotten so corporate. That has always been the case but it’s a lot more visible now. If you can imagine the Gaslamp where every bar, every ice cream store, every little corner there is a band playing. It’s insane. Noise is coming from everywhere. If it’s a three-story building there’s a band on every floor. People come from everywhere to be there — from New York, Europe... Everybody is pitching something. You sort of assume people will pay attention to you. But you have to ask, ‘Is it worth it?’ That’s the existential question.”