MEMPHIS, Tenn. — This year's Beale Street Music Festival next to the Liberty Bowl carries extra weight for one Memphis band, making their festival debut in front of likely their largest audience at the Bluff City's premier music event.
It's a full-circle moment for Blvck Hippie lead singer Josh Shaw, who attended his first Beale Street Music Festival as a college student with big musical aspirations.
Now, after years of hard work and perseverance, instead of a spectator, Shaw will be a performer Saturday on the Bud Light Stage.
"It kind of proves if you keep working consistently, things will pay off. It just may take a long time," Shaw said.
For Shaw, the stage is now set ahead of his indie rock band's most significant gig to date, at his hometown Beale Street Music Festival.
"It kind of makes everything worth it, all the struggles, all the hard work, all the playing in front of two people," Shaw added.
But success didn't happen overnight, as Shaw and his bandmates struggled to gain traction before the pandemic hit.
"It feels pretty crazy because I feel like, before 2020 and the shutdown, we were barely known, even within our own city," Shaw said.
But after the initial lockdown, the band locked in.
"It got discouraging but we kind of decided to buckle down and focus on the only things we could control, which is writing and recording the record and kind of let everything else just fall into place, and hope things would get back to normal eventually," Shaw said.
That pandemic perseverance paid off for Shaw and Blvck Hippie.
The crowds grew larger during their fall 2021 tour.
"It's kind of weird because we are a bunch of DIY punk kids and like indie kids who aren't used to any of this stuff, we are all just trying to take it in, be grateful," Shaw said.
Back home, Blvck Hippie's growing success caught the attention of Beale Street Music Festival organizers.
Several weeks ago, Shaw got the call at work.
"I run out here, I just start calling everyone, called my mom, called a bunch of random friends, I was like, 'Hey man, don't tell anyone, it's not announced yet but we are going to play Beale Street Music Festival' and we are freaking out," Shaw said.
Blvck Hippie will perform at 2 p.m. Saturday.