South By Southwest – Epilogue

As the jet lag fades, I’m left with a thousand wonderful memories of my first SXSW.  And sore feet.  Here’s what’s sticking with me:

a) What I’ll miss:   the people and the attitude to music.  It’s in their bloodstream to love live music, to give it room to breathe and to accommodate what’s become an amazing display of creativity in their city every March.   Bravo.
 
3) What I won’t miss:  Walking a lot (I’m renting a bike next year – or maybe a Segue? ;).  And the heat. 

d)  Thinking of going to Glasto this year?  Oxegen, Reading or Leeds?  Electric Picnic?  Take my advice and follow me:  Save a bit and go to SXSW 2009 instead.  
 
If you truly love live music, if you revel in the discovery of new, amazing bands and love talking and/or learning about music, then this festival is for you.  The cost of travel & hotel is about the same as a ticket to Glasto and travel back&forth – and if you want to spring for a badge ($400+) or wristband ($169), go ahead…but they’re not essential purchases.  Most shows are free to all comers.  Registration begins in August of 2008.

More importantly, what you’ll get is the world’s most exhilarating live music experience, some of the world’s best barbecue and a lot of new friends.  Not to mention a bed, a shower and a loo that’s not a toxic dumpsite.
 
R) Despite what some people have said about the validity of the panels and music conference section of SXSW, there was a lot of good information to be gleaned from this year’s panels for any aspiring music business – just like the live shows, it was about doing some research and separating the wheat from the chaff.

$#) The trouble with SXSW is that there’s so much involved, especially when you’re both working and playing as I was, that you’re left with a feeling that you could’ve done some things better.  Here’s a few thoughts I’d had:

i. Despite #R above, I’d probably make the panels less of a priority next time.  Unless the subject was super-relative to my position as a business, I’d probably skip it to avoid some of the more rambling chats on the schedule.  
 
ii. Making less of an emphasis on the Convention Center panels means more time for attending a few of the abundant Day Parties – I suspected, then later confirmed, that there was more real “business” getting done at these gathering than in the stuffy rooms of SXSW Central.
 
iii.  Sched.org is, and always will be, my friend.
 
\m/)  Finally, I saw about 40 shows at the festival.   Here’s my Top 5:
 
White Denim:   There was nothing I’d seen all week that was better than the 40 minutes of pure energetic, inventive and raucous music White Denim subjected me to (video here). If the Pixies were 20 years younger and these two bands went head to head, White Denim would certainly give them a run for their money. You’d be mad to miss the chance to see a band like this – The best.
 
Sybris – Back to Maggie Mae’s Gibson room for an intense run in with Absolutely Kosher’s Sybris. Indie rock with teeth and a passion.  I’ve decided that I only want to see bands that absolutely KILL themselves on stage – it’s just too entertaining to watch and I don’t need to see a band standing on stage looking like they’re filing tax returns.  Yay Sybris!
 
Man Man – A case in point… this is what I want from perfomers – blood, sweat and tears.  Lay down your health for the audience and they’ll follow you anywhere.  I’m a complete convert at this stage.
 
Via Audio – A show with a completely different vibe.  Playing to a half-empty room (didn’t see that coming) Via Audio were everything I expected and more.  The record has been my go to record for months and I was happy to meet with Jess (sigh) and the lads after the show.  Despite the lackluster turnout, I did hear Jess chatting to a rep from Arts&Crafts after the gig – You heard it hear first, folks!
 
Jesca Hoop
KCRW approved, Ms Hoop was truly a revelation.  Folky, sultry wonderfulness – a study in understated glory.  Great.

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