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.
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.
This entry was posted on March 11, 2009 at 7:05 am and is filed under SXSW with tags Alejandro Escovedo, Austin, Carbon Silicon, Gaslight Anthem, Ian McLagan, Magic Christian, Metallica, SXSW, SXSW music, The Decemberists, The Hold Steady, The Stooges. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.