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SXSW: Over and Out for 2011!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2011 by 30daysout

Irish band Two Door Cinema Club perform at the MTV Woodies Award show. (Photo by Lily Angelle)

Despite being on the scene only two days at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, we could already detect the storylines vibrating through the air. Oh, okay, not really. On the other side of the world angry nuclear reactors are threatening to burn their way through the Earth, so who gives a shit about what they’re talking about in Austin?

The thousands and thousands (and more thousands) of people visiting the central Texas city this weekend are here to listen to music. More or less. The occasion is supposed to be about hearing unknown/unsigned/unheard acts and yes, there seem to be an awful lot of established stars around who don’t really need the publicity. Or do they?

Unknown and unsigned on the sidewalks of Sixth Street.

So over the past few days we’ve experienced a perfect storm of big name vs. no name, badgeholders vs. nothing-holders, the need to hear music vs. the need to eat and sleep.  Some of the usual storylines: who’s gonna play at Perez Hilton’s party? Why couldn’t we get in to see the Foo Fighters? Is R.E.M. gonna play a surprise show? A few people are grumbling again about Austin cops and fire marshals roaming around and strictly enforcing capacity codes and noise restrictions – the theory is that “official” SXSW is somehow leaning on the city to lean, in turn, on places hosting “unofficial” free side parties, or cracking down on noisy establishments hosting outdoor parties. The usual stuff.

Real life gets a little ugly when it nudges its way onto center stage at SXSW. Like on Thursday, the officially sanctioned outdoor show by the Strokes almost ended in disaster as the crowd got unruly. On Friday, a camera boom fell on some spectators during a set at the Stubb’s venue. Minor injuries were sustained in both cases, but residents are starting to ask questions. The usual stuff, including “has this all gotten too big?”

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