When Wheelchair Sports Camp headed down to South By Southwest for the first time three years ago, the hip-hop group was used to playing for 10 people in its hometown of Denver.

That all changed after its visit to SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Bands travel from around the world to the annual music showcase hoping to network, mingle with industry people and get noticed. And that's just what WSC did.

When it performed its set, someone from Spin magazine was in the room. So was someone from Shady Records. The band would go on to see itself on the covers of theVillage Voice and The Denver Post and in the pages of Spin and many other media outlets. Wheelchair Sports Camp was invited to a meeting in New York with Shady Records, and there was no more struggling to fill a room back in Denver. SXSW had worked.

Wheelchair Sports Camp MC Kalyn Heffernan said South By Southwest helped make her band a national act.
Wheelchair Sports Camp MC Kalyn Heffernan said South By Southwest helped make her band a national act. (Robin Walker / Courtesy photo)

"It was the only thing that made us a national band," said Kalyn Heffernan, Wheelchair Sports Camp's MC.

So the band's heading back to Austin this year. It's among dozens of Colorado artists who plan to make the trek to SXSW 2014. The event includes music, film and interactive components. The music portion, which runs Tuesday through March 16, transforms downtown Austin around Sixth Street into a tornado of sound. Bands seem to be performing in every downtown space where a PA can be set up. The event features hundreds of artists who are scheduled to perform in official SXSW showcases or other showcases that are organized to coincide with the event and often offer equal opportunity for exposure.

The Fort Collins band Fierce Bad Rabbit is on the lineup of the Colorado Music Party, which is presented by The Denver Post's Reverb, Colorado Public Radio's OpenAir and the Fort Collins-based SpokesBuzz.

"It's a handful of opportunities," FBR drummer Max Barcelow said. "There's lots of coverage, including this interview, there's lots of PR opportunity. It's like a conference for bands to hear each other and swap material and music and make a lot of connections."

Barcelow has performed at SXSW in various bands about the past four years. Getting to shake hands or have a beer with other people in the biz can be valuable for artists seeking exposure, he said.

"You get closer to all sorts of people in the music scene at large," he said.

Bands make connections with other bands from around the country, which proves handy when they go on tour and have friends in cities along the way, Barcelow said.

Another Fort Collins band and SXSW veteran, You Me & Apollo, is playing the Colorado Music Party. But this year, the band is also an official SXSW showcase artist.

Grant Farm is among the Colorado bands that plan to perform during SXSW 2014 in Austin.
Grant Farm is among the Colorado bands that plan to perform during SXSW 2014 in Austin. (Grant Farm / Courtesy photo)

"I'm interested to see what the difference is, if there is any," said Tyler Kellogg, drummer for You Me & Apollo. "I've noticed that it seems like people kind of give us some more credibility with the official showcase."

The band was written up in Spin as a result of its previous SXSW trip, and the members made connections with performing rights organizations, photographers and other industry professionals.

"We've gotten some pretty cool opportunities," Kellogg said.

Other Colorado bands listed as official SXSW artists this year include CurlyOne, Gungor, Inner Oceans, Little Fyodor, option4, Paper Diamond, Primitive Man, Roo & The Howl, Subliminal, Tennis, Thug Entrancer, Wheelchair Sports Camp and Tyler The Creator.

Yup, you read that right. Tyler The Creator, the Odd Future co-founder and Los Angeles native, seems to have named Boulder as his hometown as part of his SXSW submission.

"That's what we have on our record here in our database," SXSW spokeswoman Elizabeth Derczo said.

There's some background to this. Last year, in a faux ceremony before a show at Boulder's Fox Theatre, Tyler was awarded a key to the city and claimed to be from Boulder. The famous rapper was not immediately available to confirm his residence in the city.

Other Colorado artists scheduled to perform in Austin during SXSW include A. Tom Collins, Grant Farm, The Epilogues and The Yawpers. The Post's Reverb and Longmont brewer Oskar Blues are planning showcases in Austin during SXSW.

They all seek the same thing from SXSW, but only some will find it.

"SX is only good to one in 250 bands," Heffernan said. "We've been lucky to be one of those bands."

Second Story Garage hosts Quentin Young and Ashley Dean will be in Austin checking out Colorado artists at SXSW. Follow their coverage at secondstorygarage.com, on Twitter at @QYoungTC and @AshaleyJill and on Facebook.