Austin City Limits is one of the biggest festivals in town, and it is known throughout the music industry as one of the festivals a band must play. With plenty of acts to choose from when compiling your schedule for ACL, there are always plenty of different groups to watch. This year, the festival saw plenty of local bands, including Shane Smith and The Saints, who sound a lot like The Lumineers and ACL big stage performers Mumford and Sons.
Knowing that ACL would be the band’s first big festival appearance since they started in 2010, we talked to front man Shane Smith from the road in Dallas as the band performs one-off shows around their ACL performance. Smith was kind enough to take some out of his busy schedule to speak to Austin.com about playing a festival for the first time, how the group got started, and what’s coming up next for them after releasing their record Geronimo last year.
“It’s been a hectic and crazy week for us,” Smith tells us tells right away. With the band playing shows nearly every night before their big ACL appearance, he doesn’t sound exhausted. “We’re playing Billy Bobs. It’s a really big dance hall, and it’s our first big main stage show there tonight. Then tomorrow we get to play a big amphitheater in College Station with a band called the Turnpike Troubadours from Oklahoma, so it’s really exciting to get to play these shows.”
Smith tells us that he “moved to Austin in 2009 and (I) started to play in bars and open mic nights, and when I came here was when I really started getting on a regular schedule. I had a calendar with every single open mic night I could find. Then eventually I met our fiddle player, Bennett Brown, and we put a band together and we won a singer-songwriter contest. We got an opportunity to play a show in East Texas at a dance hall and we decided we wanted a full band for that show.”
Over the next several years, the band toured heavily, gaining recognition throughout Texas. For a small band, getting the chance to perform at ACL is a difficult task. We asked Smith if he could recall any moment or experience where performing at a festival like ACL became possible. It turns out his answer wasn’t as simple as we thought. He tells Austin.com that C3, a concert promotions company who promotes the festival, invited the band to perform at the event. “We got the invite and it was a huge thing for us. ACL is such a special festival for us to be a part of, since it’s based in Austin. I’ve been going to ACL for years, and I never thought that we would get a chance to play it. Over the last three or four years we’ve playing shows strictly through C3 in Austin. We ended up playing a show at The Parish and sold it out, which probably ended up helping us a lot, and also helped us get a lot of credit and marketing history in Austin for ticket sales.”
This past weekend was pretty amazing… Thank you so much to everyone that came out to our shows, especially our early Sunday set at @aclfestival ! 11:30AM show, and tons of you showed up. It's been a long road for us. And we've worked very hard to get on that lineup. Playing ACL to close out the week of shows and seeing that turnout.. you seriously made us feel great. Thank you. We love ya 📸: Jen Hakey #ShaneSmithandTheSaints #ACL #MillerLight #Weekend1 #Rock #Folk #Roots #Country #Americana #Music #Geronimo #Tour #AustinCityLimits #ShaneSmith
Staying on the subject of bigger opportunities, the band will be heading over to Ireland later this year to perform at a pub alongside other American and Texas acts in Dublin. Curious to know more about this upcoming jaunt across the pond, we asked Smith to give us a more details about this. “This will be our second time going to Ireland, but the first time as a full band. Last year I had the opportunity to play there but it was just acoustic. The event this year is called the Red Dirt Pub Crawl. We had the opportunity to play in the Bahamas this past summer, and we are due to play a festival in Malaysia.”
The band has gotten a positive response in Europe due to a lot of American’s participating in the pub crawl, “so it’s not like you’re playing to just a bunch of Irish people,” Smith tells us. “It’s like a destination festival almost. Last year the crawl was entirely in Dublin, so now it’s going to be more spread out in different cities. “
With a new album and plenty of good things ahead of them, Shane Smith and The Saints has created music that feels timeless, while leaving their own mark on the Austin music scene. With a sound and identity that will take them far, we look forward to hearing more from Smith and his band soon.
Check out a live performance of the song “All I See Is You” live from The Parish below.
If you would like to read more of Lauren Gribble’s interviews, you can head to her website Listen Here Reviews.