by Ryan McKeeman
As we all finally get over the SXSW hangover from last month, we take the time to reminisce about the days when SXSW was a smaller, more intimate experience. Not so much for the sake of nostalgia...because SXSW is awesome now. And it was awesome then, too. Certainly it’s more corporate these days with brands like Dorito’s and McDonald’s getting in on the action. But let's take a breath and recognize what SXSW used to be about - discovering fresh talent, fresh music...something new.
For an up-and-coming band, SXSW used to be about getting signed. The festival provided a place for talent to meet talent management and make the music of tomorrow happen today. Let's be clear - those days are all but over. Bands playing official showcases at SXSW are thoroughly vetted, usually have a sweet record deal in place and are typically promoting a freshly-minted album to take advantage of the exposure offered by the throngs of nerds and hipsters that descend on Austin for 10 of the most beautiful days in March.
Enter TOMA. They're a new band from Austin, formed in late 2014. They play a specialized blend of psychedelic rock and soul. They're in their early 20's. They're hungry. What they lack in experience, they make for in enthusiasm. TOMA brings members from The Hereticks together with a new drummer, Jake Hiebert.
Jake joins the ranks of impressive Austin High alums playing live music in their hometown. Waldo Wittenmeyer brings it on the keys and vocals. He is also the founder of West By West Campus - the South By for the University of Texas at Austin. Jake is following in Waldo's footsteps, keeping the WXWC tradition alive in a new incarnation called West Campus Block Party on Saturday, April 25. Wesley plays the bass and makes a mean Cuban sandwich at Fricano's. And Willy keeps it cool on guitar and vocals.
Coming off successful shows at 21st Street Co-op, Mohawk, Empire Control Room, and Holy Mountain, TOMA released their first EP in late March. On Saturday, April 25, you can catch TOMA at the West Campus Block Party - the UT Austin version of SXSW. The show is free...shit the whole festival is free...and they take the stage at the 21st Street Co-op at 7PM, joining the likes of local favorites Berkshire Hounds and Capyac. The lineup for this event is sick...Growl and MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR headline the Pearl Street stage with Comforter and The Bare Feat representing at Eden House.
So, in the spirit of discovering new talent during SXSW, check out the band TOMA. If you’re around campus this weekend, go check ‘em out at West Campus Block Party! We will be there in full effect - come by and say hi!
We had the good fortune to preview the first single from the EP in March. It’s called “Live Forever” and we got our feet tapping over here at The Sound Floor - enjoy!