It was the fall of 2021 when I began living around UT campus with some 5+ friends from high school. Some attending UT, some having graduated, and myself attending Texas state. As twenty somethings, we frequented the bars around the drag and within a few months I found myself almost exclusively going out to shows that my roommate and friends were performing in. They were ubiquitous. Every single weekend two, three, four shows Austin, San Marcos, San Antonio and more. I soon found myself unable to keep up.
I was impressed that even though I saw the same group of about five to twelve guys and girls at every show, they were consistently able to pack the place. Id soon find out that this core group I would see around are all musicians and are the basis of what makes this scene what it is. Sad cell, Dewey Ivy, Public Age, Shooks, Party Van, Witches Exist, Homemade Bangs, Telecom. Honestly too many too name. Roughly five to twelve people surmising six to ten bands are what create what I’ve heard referred to as the “Sad Cell Cinematic universe”. I’ve included a graphic above that illustrates the rough layout of the interconnected web of bands that I am referencing, but it’s not all encompassing; more projects are always bound to emerge.
Turns out, this crowd has been playing together for a while. Some members having previously established relationships, either familial or otherwise, to one another as well as others in the music industry. Most of the universe’s cast, at least individually, played music from a young age. Eventually, they would all mesh to form some of the bands we know today.
The thing that impressed me most about this crowd wasn’t the interconnectedness of it all (though I find that charming), it was the music. These people aren’t trying too hard nor are they overhyping anything. When you get down to it, all of this music is underlined by good writers, musicians, and performers.
Like good writers (At least my personal favorites) their music isn’t only technically proficient, it’s vulnerable and heartfelt at times while fun and amusing at others. From country sounding tunes about dancing and drinking to darker tracks dealing with death, heartbreak, or suicide, the “Sad Cell Cinematic Universe” really covers a wide gambit of genres and themes. That’s just the music; seeing these sets live is another story. In addition to the shear number of shows these people play, their performances are never dull and people seem to agree they tend to have something of a way with the crowd.
This cinematic scene is sprawling, and I encourage you to explore it for yourself. Look up any of the bands on Spotify, Watch the Sad Cell KTSW set here, and follow them on Instagram to stay up to date on upcoming shows. I’m proud of this group of people’s success so far and it doesn’t stop with them, there are connections of all kinds to bands all around the I-35 corridor. Get out there and tune in!
Featured Image by Jacob Silvia.
Written by: Preethi Mangadu