As previously noted, music at SXSW is likely the most overwhelming part of the experience. I think I am actually going to be able to get the SXSW posts finished before I get on another plane! Perhaps we will also amble around Angkor Wat a bit… perhaps nothing interesting will happen in Europe and I will have to resort to nostalgia… let’s hope it doesn’t come to that 😉
So… watching live music in Austin. As noted in an earlier post, it took me a while to get the hang of it. You really have to push yourself to quit reading the guide and go see SOMETHING! And I discovered doing the critic’s picks in the Austin Chronicle was no guarantee of success.
All of my favourite moments were the result of serendipity rather than careful planning. I decided I would check out the British Showcase since a large part of my music collection comes with a British accent.
There were some good bands, nothing as great as the Toronto Showcase I wrote about earlier, but definitely a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. And the coolest part of SXSW Music is that it brings out lots of fans – of musical genres, musical periods or rabid fans of local indie bands you’ve never heard of.
Some of the British bands were worth checking out – Public Service Broadcasting, Casual Sex, Young Fathers.
You can go and try and track down Coldplay or Lady Gaga. They know a lot about marketing so of course they are there getting lots of free publicity but I would recommend looking for the hidden gems… and chatting with everyone you can so that you can hear their stories and share tips on what to do next…
And, who knows, you might have a little romance while you are looking for additions to your CD collection. The one thing you likely want to pack though is earplugs! I assume all the musicians and road crews are deaf. There is no reason the amps need to be turned up that high but you aren’t likely to change it.
The British Showcase was especially loud. I noticed quickly that all the staff – and some patrons – were sporting ear plugs! I mentioned my longing for ear plugs to my new friend Craig and, all of a sudden, I had a pair – in purple no less! Believe me, It is very easy to crush on a guy who buys you ear plugs at SXSW!
The atmosphere is very casual though and there is a lot of drinking so I found you rarely see anyone again. It’s quite possible they wake up the next day not remembering that you’ve met J And you’re there for the music after all 😉
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trade mobile numbers with people and see what happens… you might just have as spectacular an end to your SXSW experience as I did.
I met John the penultimate night of SXSW at the Scottish portion of the British Showcase. When he texted me the next night I was at the Lit Lounge waiting to see some band the Austin Chronicle had given the thumbs up to but there wasn’t much happening for a couple of acts so I took up his offer to meet at the Palm Door to see someone called Res who was famous in Philadelphia, close to his hometown (Pittsburgh). She was good but then the music changed to rap so I headed back to the original schedule.
While I was at the Palm Door, John told me he might come and see the final band of the night at the Lit Lounge as they were from Pittsburgh and the lead singer had a “gay crush” on him. While I was waiting for him to decide, I spied a seat (rare at SXSW) and the two other guys at the table told me they were there for “The Ugly Beats”. They were big fans and, once it was time for the band to come on, we had to get up close to the stage and dance!
Somewhere in the middle of their show, John showed up. The other guys headed out once their band was done so it was just John and I for “The Cynics”. The lead singer gave an inspired performance and we got to talk to the band when the show was over.
John had to drive home to San Antonio so he walked me to the Driskill and kissed me more dramatically than most final shots in romantic comedies. A passionate kiss in front of the Driskill after watching a show where the guy knows the band… I couldn’t have written a more perfect ending to SXSW 😉
So… be nice, pace the Shiner and you won’t be watching rom-coms on the big screen – you will be living them 🙂