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What the 'Live Music Capital' Can Learn From Angers, France

The Skroks are here. They're a youthful, all-male brass band in town from one of Austin's sister cities, Angers, France.

So what brings an overseas band to Austin? Exactly what appeals to young bands across the world: touring, playing music and meeting fans.

“We [play] many different styles,” says Skroks bandleader Flo. “Like ska music, rock music, funky music, music to party – we like to make people dance.”

By the end of their hour-long show at the Hole in the Wall earlier this week, the small crowd was certainly dancing, chanting and yelling joyously. And the Skroks seem to be enjoying their first visit to Austin.

“[Austinites] are very aware," says Flo. “They like to speak with us and also we like to [talk with them]. Because they like our music and we like music from [Austin]. It's [been] a good surprise for us.”

Having our two cultures interact is exactly what Austin Angers Music hopes to accomplish. The group helped bring The Skroks from France to Texas to function as cultural representatives and promote an artistic exchange between the two cities.

Local promoter Samantha Phelps is one Austinite behind the collaboration. Phelps says that while Angers is much smaller than Austin, it's also a musical city with a thriving arts and restaurant scene. She believes the two cities could learn a lot from each other.

"We do things very differently here in Austin than they do in Angers," says Phelps. "We consider ourselves the 'Live Music Capital of the World,' but my experience in the city is that we have a lot to learn on that front. [The French] value their artists, and I think if we can take a page from that book and bring it here and really support musicians, I think it’ll do wonders."

One difference Phelps cites is that artists in France are often able to receive assistance from the government. This can come in many forms, ranging from government wages to support for an international tour.

Austin already has a presence in Angers. The Reverb Appreciation Society, the folks behind Austin Psych Fest, established a festival in Angers last year called Levitation France. Phelps hopes to bring a group of Austin musicians, artists and journalists to Angers during the September festival. She still has more funds to raise, but remains hopeful.

In the meantime, The Skroks will be here through Tuesday. They have performances scheduled across town at venues from Bangers to the White Horse and Barton Spring Pool – plus Austin City Hall and the French Legation.

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