Super Happy Fun Land's SXSW Overflow Fest In Full Swing

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Not everyone has the capital to attend South by Southwest this year, but that doesn't mean that you won't have the opportunity to hear some of the greatest bands in the world in the coming weeks.

In fact, if you're in Houston, you'll not only get a chance to see a lot of them, but you'll actually get to experience them in a much more intimate setting... for much less than the cost of a SXSW ticket, too.

Super Happy Fun Land is, once again, hosting its annual SXSW Overflow Festival, during which time the Houston venue serves as yet another stage for artists to play while they're in Texas.

"Our mission is to provide a venue for as many SXSW artists as we can," Brian Arthur says. "All the best bands in the world come to this reason for [the festival], and they want to play as much as they can."

For Arthur, SHFL's staff and those in Houston who are interested, SXSW lasts about two weeks, through March 24. The only drawback is that the lineup is constantly changing, and sometimes bands back out of a show at the last minute.

"A lot of times, theses bands don't get their schedules until the end of February," Arthur says. "A lot of them are really great bands on pretty big indie labels."

If you're dead-set on seeing a specific band on a certain night, you may want to call a few hours before the show starts to make sure it's still on the bill (713-880-2100), but a quality lineup is always guaranteed. This year, 20 states and six different countries will be represented.

"Our mission is to provide a place for as many South by Southwest bands as we can accomodate," Arthur says. "We doing up to 10 bands a night; one night, we have 12 playing."

While the entire program is diverse, Arthur has a favorite.

"I'm really excited about Janka Nabay from Sierra Leone," Arthur says. "He is known as the king of Bubu music; that's a type of music from West Africa, which is about empowerment of the people, women's rights... it has heavy political overtones."

Every year is different. Out of the 90 bands booked this year, only two or three have played the Overflow Festival before.

"These bands are happy to play our festival, because it gives them an opportunity to decompress from the craziness in Austin, and they get to compare notes with a bunch of other bands that are playing too, all in a more informal, laid-back environment," Arthur says.

"And we feed the bands and give them a place to crash, which can be really important for a traveling band."

If you've ever toured with a band, you know that even one night without having to worry about paying for food or a hotel room can be a godsend. SHFL provides couches, allows bands to sleep onstage in sleeping bags or even camp in the back.

"We don't have a fancy hotel room for everyone," Arthur said. "It's more like a big band slumber party."

And while they're here, Arthur makes sure they get a little taste of Texas.

"We always feed them vegan chili, and it's fun to show all these bands how to make frito pie, because a lot of them have never heard of such a thing."

The entire lineup can be found on Super Happy Fun Land's Web site.

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