Tuesday, March 20th, 2007
SxSW XXI Review
Okay, final SxSW post for a while. Well, almost final – my photos should be up in the next week or so. I know you’re probably all Sx-ed out – the online coverage has been relentless – but I want/need to do one last wrap of my own before moving on with other things.
This was my third time doing SxSW and it was far and away the best time I’ve had. I attribute this both to the fact that I had a cell phone for the first time, thus enabling me to contact and meet up with people, and to the fact that I had people to meet up with. Be they other bloggers, label people, PR people, artists, whoever, in the four and a half years I’ve been running this site I’ve gotten to know a lot of people online and the opportunity to meet and talk with them in person was a real treat. Of course, I didn’t get to talk to ANY of them for as long as I’d have liked, but it was still great to put face to email address and shake a hand. It’s also interesting that while I rarely turn my cellphone on while at home, I was a total mobile junkie in Austin, particularly the joys of text messaging. Because trying to actually call someone from in front of the stage at the Mohawk is the very definition of futility (though my voice mail greeting was recorded there – you can hear me screaming “I’m not here! Leave a message!” over top the din).
Musically, I saw a total of 46 bands, eclipsing my previous mark by around a dozen or so. Granted, some were abbreviated – one or two songs – but if I have a photo set of them, I’m counting them. Despite this highwater mark, however, only 18 of them were in the evening at proper SxSW showcases. It seemed that this was the year that “I was able to get into everything I wanted to see with a wristband” was no longer a truism. Clubs with hot or even semi-hot acts were full or badge-only by 8 or 9PM, making finding something worth seeing later in the evening exceedingly difficult. Mind you, by that time of night I was usually already whipped and it didn’t take much to convince me to just head back to the hotel, but the fact remains that the crowds seemed that much denser this year than in the past. Wednesday was no longer the slow night and Saturday night on 6th St, with the hordes of St Patrick’s Day revelers, was simply hellish.
But for me, as for many, the salvation of SxSW was the day shows. I was able to see so many of the bands I wanted to see at the unofficial afternoon parties that getting shut out of the night showcases wasn’t such a big deal. Of course, the fact that I was presenting a couple of shows kept me from doing much hopping around in the days, but that was okay with me – the lineups were more than solid enough to hold my attention in one spot. In particular, the two-day Hot Freaks event – which I’ve gone on at length about – turned out to not only be a success, but one of the best things I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. Working with David, Dodge, Chris, Matt and Jax as well as John and Loren in Austin to get it all together and then see it, quite frankly, exceed all my expectations was gratifying beyond words. Can’t wait to do it again next year.
And I’m already planning next year. Though I say it every year, in 2008 I am definitely staying downtown. The combined cost of the farther hotel and rental car turned out to be more than I’d anticipated, and certainly not much cheaper than staying right downtown if at all. I’m also thinking I’m going to splurge for a badge next year – see how the other half lives. But that’s next year – I’m not going to start seriously planning that out for, oh, another couple weeks at least. For now I’m happy to be back home, with my cat, and will be back to regular-style blogging tomorrow.
And there’s simply too many Sx reports to link to, so I’m not going to try. That’s why we have Elbows, Technorati and Google News. But I will point you to The Rich Girls Are Weeping, who have SxSW reports from Howard and Jonathan of Shearwater, who were the only band I saw twice last week and who absolutely killed both times.