Last year at SXSW it seemed a lot of the swirling crowd was there for the first time. I know I was.
Was it overwhelming? I suppose. Still I felt I got to see a good representation of new/old/educational/out of control events. The one thing I learned: trash the itinerary. You can plan for every Discussion of Social Media Impacting Future Music Fans Circa 2026 panel discussions featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, Andrew McCutchen, Dr. David WIneland, and Wiz Khalifa that you want, hoping to hear a valid discussion on the pros and cons of Dudamobile, FiddleFly, and Distimo and still end up at the Tennessee Fajita Party featuring Diarrhea Planet.
That's Austin during SXSW. It's controlled chaos, everybody gets it, and there's only so many people milling about at any given time because the others have decamped inside the convention center with phones plugged in to precious and few electrical outlets dotting the hallways. Austin for hours on end is murder on phone batteries.
Some of my favorite moments from last year:
- Seeing the original Zombies from the back of a bar whose 200 people capacity was about 400. At lunchtime.
- Spotting Sallie Ford eating an ice cream cone and talking on her phone in a madding crowd. "Hi Sallie! You were at OpenAir last week." "Oh I remember you, how you doing. I'm playing at 10:30 down the street. Come see me. I gotta take this."
- Being completely lost in the dark and finding Divine Fits playing in a second floor venue where they shoot Austin City Limits.
- Watching Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell sign fans' albums from decades ago at Waterloo Records. "Wow," said Rodney. "That's a moldy oldie!"
- Being concerned a third floor convention center concert was going to send us all to the first floor during a Vampire Weekend set. Honest, the room was bouncing like a trampoline.
- Observing Jake Bugg up close and personal. He's still unknown to a lot of people but wow. His music fills the room but still comes in second to this attitude, this presence. The last guy I can remember pulling this off got booed at Newport. And he's still around.
None of those things did I plan on. Oh yeah, I saw Eric Burdon, Jim James, and Clive Davis. Weird that things like that become incidental in the overall titanic kaleidoscope that is Austin during South by Southwest.
The really crazy part, I've only had a year to recover.
Can't wait to tell you about it all again as we hit OpenAir @ SXSW in just a few days!