SXSW Report: Austin Crazy Time


The South by Southwest music conference is a big event every year in Austin that masquerades as an important opportunity for music industry types to get together, discuss their business and get exposed to a few new acts.  What it really is – and it shall hereafter be referred to as SXSW – is a huge-ass party with more than a thousand music acts playing nearly continuously for about four days.  Big Fun.

Over the years we’ve covered this event for various news media outlets, but we stopped doing that about 10 years ago.  Now we just go for the free, unofficial “side” events (also known as day parties) that are way more fun than the official SXSW-sponsored events.  Plus they almost always have free beer.  If you’re lucky (or get there really early) you might get a cup or two.


The Gaslight Anthem, 2008

So we’re going over to Austin next week.  My advice has always been to make a plan, pick a few must-see acts and just “go with the flow.”  Last year we parked the car and heard a band playing.  Just a few steps, and we’re watching the Gaslight Anthem.  Take a look at the crowd in the photo … you wouldn’t see that for this band today. 

And that’s really why you go to SXSW, to discover new acts that you really like, and who might sooner or later (or never) become big stars.  Oh sure, we had a blast when the Stooges played in 2007 and when Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Mick Jones of the Clash returned last year with Carbon Silicon – and this year the big rumor is a possible appearance by Metallica – but that sort of stuff is actually a sideshow.

There are so many acts playing that it’s a good idea to pick a few you really want to see and build your schedule around that.  Our buddy Ken Shane from New Jersey is big on the Decemberists.  They have a new album coming out and their SXSW showcase on Wednesday will have them playing the whole thing (and you can listen live on NPR Radio). 

I’m hot on this San Francisco band, Magic Christian.  It’s really a supergroup, featuring Cyril Jordan (Flamin Groovies), Eddie Munoz (the Plimsouls) and Clem Burke (Blondie).  They’re playing a showcase and some free day parties, so I’m there.  We all love the Hold Steady, they are SXSW favorites, and of course we can’t pass up an opportunity to see Alejandro Escovedo and Ian McLagan

If you’re coming to Austin, we hope to see you there.  If you can’t come, go to the official SXSW music festival schedule and click through the band names.  Many of ’em have a free download, so you can hear them.  And of course we’ll provide you a smattering of coverage before, during and after the big event.

Austin Showlist

Austin American Statesman guide to SXSW side and day parties

Official SXSW Pocket Guide (PDF)

Official SXSW music conference website

4 Responses to “SXSW Report: Austin Crazy Time”

  1. Man I miss running down there for SXSW…unfortunately I’m stuck down here in the Yucatan photographing the Mayan Riviera. dang!

  2. Thanks for the mention. I’m beginning to make some sense of my schedule, and you guys have helped me a lot with that.

    Did you know that Magic Christian is playing before Ian McLagan at the Dog and Duck on Tuesday, the night before the thing actually begins? I’ll be there, assuming I can’t get into the Decemberists-Gomez show at Pangaea that same night.

    The Hold Steady seems to be playing about 20 shows in four days, so there should be plenty of opportunity to see them at least once. I’m also looking to see Glasvegas, Primal Scream, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Sonics, PJ Harvey, and many others. Right now the Rachel Ray day party on Saturday seems like the place to be in terms of talent and food. The New York Dolls are headlining that one, and the Hold Steady will be there too.

    This morning I heard a rumor of a surprise appearance by the biggest band in the world. I won’t dignify it by saying their name, but let’s just say that the timing would be right for such an appearance.

  3. By the way, the pdf guide that you posted is for SXSW Interactive.

  4. sxsw is always so crazy with so many bands…but you should definitely check out finding fiction on day 1. they play the 18th at 9pm at vintage lounge which is at 504B Trinity.

    checkem out

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