Words by Jane Hervey.
Claire Bogle was J. Cole’s ride after his first show in Houston, Texas. Leaning on her truck, they recapped the night before rolling out. He shook his head at her in disbelief. The crowd had known his lyrics. “We’re on some true visionary shit,” J. Cole said. Claire felt the energy, too.
In 2009, Claire co-founded Scoremore Shows, a boutique promotion and booking agency, with her close friend Sascha Stone Guttfreund. At the time, Claire had just moved to Austin from New Mexico to start the business, and both were still in college. They wanted to bring the hip-hop artists they wanted to see to Texas—and they were going to do it, even if they didn’t know how.
Claire spent most of her time touring the South, than in class. She booked shows and drove acts, like J. Cole and Big Sean, from city to city in her car. It wasn’t easy. Bidding out the bigger promotion agencies for artists and venues all came down to personal relationships and hustle. But the feeling—that love of underground hip-hop—was insatiable.
“This is before rap was pop music, and nobody was touring unless you were Jay-Z or Kanye [West] on that massive level,” Claire says.
Six years later, Claire lives in Los Angeles and manages singer-songwriters Kali Uchis, George Maples, and her half of Scoremore Shows, which is now a multi-million dollar agency and events company. Over the years, Scoremore has become known for its dedication to artists and its eye for up-and-coming talent. When J. Cole rolls through the South, he still calls Scoremore. When Wiz Khalifa talks about Texas, he mentions Claire and Sascha.
Looking back, Claire says the stress of the come-up was ultimately worth it. She didn’t finish college, but all-nighters? She had plenty. Parties? She threw them. Concerts? She ran them. Instead, the biggest moments for Claire have been the moves that never made the papers, like the first party they threw at South By Southwest (Austin’s largest annual music festival). With headliners Chiddy Bang and Bun B., along with openers among the likes of Wiz Khalifa and ScHoolboy Q, they booked Stubb’s, an outdoor/indoor venue that double-times as a barbecue joint. They called the party “Sunday Swagger.”
“Pardon the name,” Claire says, then laughs. “It was 2010.”
They only sold 600 tickets, but it didn’t matter. “Everybody that we brought [to Texas] we were such a fucking fan of,” Claire says. “People don’t forget the type of experience we provide, just like we don’t, either.”
“Sunday Swagger” never went annual, but the event was breeding ground for Scoremore’s yearly SXSW celebration—the Illmore. The Illmore started off as an afterparty, a place to chill after a long week of interviews, back-to-back shows, and events, but it quickly grew into a pop-up venue for headlining acts.
“We’ve never paid an artist to play the Illmore,” she says. “They play it out of love for us, for the brand. The J.Coles, the Wales, the Macklemores, the Skrillexes, the Steve Aokis, none of them have ever been paid.”
This same love and hustle fueled the beginnings for JMBLYA, Scoremore’s annual pop-up festival featuring rising hip-hop artists. “When we decided to produce JMBLYA, financially it wasn’t a good move” Claire says. “But we did three dates and put all of the artists on a tour bus, and at the end of it there wasn’t an artist who didn’t come up to me and say, ‘Damn, let’s tour this.’ A$AP Ferg even did a song with Purity Ring. We made the money we lost back the next year and now we’ve got a brand to work with. We can sell 3000 tickets for it without a lineup, and that entire thing was built entirely out of restlessness.”
The same restlessness sustains Scoremore Shows. With her team, Claire has created a business that feeds off of her own energy, the music she loves, and the relationships she has with her friends.
“When you’re taking a business that is literally derived on passion, it’s a lot harder numerically to sustain, but in terms of relationships, it’s easy. You’re all fighting for the same thing—that fighting and fleeting moment of producing something that touches lives,” Claire says. “My favorite fucking part of producing shows is seeing the crowd antsy and so excited and sharing that energy as a team. Like, fuck, we brought all these people together to share this energy with us and we have the pleasure of experiencing this with them.”
Claire says it ultimately comes down to those little moments—the times where she looks out at the crowd or witnesses greatness from an artist she respects. It’s that time she helped a handicapped attendee meet an artist backstage. It’s watching Kendrick Lamar play two SXSW gigs back-to-back, simultaneously pumped by exhilaration and exhaustion. It’s hustling and fighting with her friends and not having a sustainable romantic relationship—all for music, all for the shows, all for getting better. It’s hearing Big Sean say “If it’s a Scoremore show, it’s a sold-out show.” Those are the moments when she feels love.
“The day that I stop is…well, I can’t imagine that day, to be honest,” she says. “Fuck, I can’t even imagine it. We’re so in love with what we do and who we do it with, I can’t imagine anything changing. If that’s me being naive and young about it, who’s to say?”