You could say South by Southwest is the perfect place to be for a band like The Winter Brave. After achieving a respectable number of plays for its EP, Metaphors, the band earned a spot in the top 100 of the Jansport Sonicbids Battle of the Bands competition, even breaking the top 10 before losing out to fellow Pittsburgh rock band White Like Fire.
The band, composed of two brothers (Jake and Sam Scarpino) and a best friend (Chris Beaulieu), have come a long way from meeting in the junior-high lunch line in Upper St. Clair. Their hard yet melodic sound is akin to early Fall Out Boy and Foo Fighters, whom they cite as influences. By the time the band was accepted as a SXSW showcasing artist, it had been praised by the likes of Dave Grohl himself, in a Reddit AMA session last year.
But as much as SXSW is now focused on apps and communication, at its core, personal interaction is most important, and The Winter Brave attended the festival with that in mind.
"We're trying to build more of a physical following, instead of an Internet following," says bassist Beaulieu.
Guitarist Jake Scarpino agrees. "Being in a band and playing music was something that we all kind of wanted to do, as a living, but [the SXSW showcase] gave us the confidence to go ahead and do it. It was a golden opportunity; you can't just let that go to waste."
Jake is a power crooner — maybe as well suited to a disco club as a rock band — and at the festival showcase, his voice reached pitches likely only known to SXSW. One audience member from Australia said the band sounded like the rockers back home, "a lot of sound for just being a three-piece." The Winter Brave played music from its EP as well as new material, filling the Irish pub with classic '90s-style grunge pop.
Jake, Chris and Sam, all in their early twenties, now pursue music full time, and hope to provide an inspiration to teenagers playing in suburban basements everywhere. From the bar you could see, just outside of the open windows, a growing crowd of underage Austinites snapping pictures and bobbing their heads.