Blogging about festivals is like dancing about architecture—Jay Horton examines local artists' digitized memoirs of SXSW '08.
Anyone who's known a reasonably ambitious musician—anyone to spend time in the Northwest, then—has grown accustomed to South By Southwest stories that, vaunting envy acknowledged, almost always disappoint. The unwavering momentum borne from immeasurable alternatives (and the fuels associated) disallows the ordinary charms of touring: empowered displacement, subsidized irresponsibility, the sheer narrative value of unstructured time auditing strange people and places. Not that SXSW gigs themselves aren't important, not that the appeal of the new doesn't still beckon—especially to first-timers—but to not take advantage of the floating schmoozefest seems a little…fake.
Give yourself to overstuffed itinerary, and any inherent frisson lent from Sahara Hot Nights' buffet banter or splitting eight-balls alongside David Cross still bleeds anticlimax. And, for the listener, a numbed pointlessness. My Friend Drank With Steve Earle And I All I Got Was This Lousy Cell Phone Photo. Whether dithering over the hourly Sophie's Choice of simultaneous heroes—extra fraught since anyone that still cares about music need camp out days previous to ensure entry, wristband be damned—or spinning mind and body toward uselessness in search of the Bigger Better Party, the best tales illustrate a dance marathon/Bataan death march of open bar survivalism; most resemble your aunt's frenzied appraisal of the Louvre that hour between flights or the time your cousin delivered pizza to Paulie Shore's bachelor party. Aside, perhaps, from those rootsy icons returning home and PR/A&R/DIY jobbers who honestly believe the festival a glad-handing Olympics, nobody genuinely enjoys themselves. An endless succession of riches inevitably engenders loss.
Sure am glad I didn't have a pass. Yep. By choice, man. And what would be duller than scanning the diaries of those poor suckers…whoa, whoa, who bummed a cigarette? How drunk? And he went on stage afterwards?! Did you get any pictures?
Relevant Local Bloggers:
Hip-hopper/impresario Josh Martinez (link)
Tours Of Duty – 8
Names Dropped – Daniel Lanois, Willie Nelson, Raveonettes , Kevin Spacey's sister
Science Dropped – Seek out Ironworks BBQ; avoid Daniel Lanois' burrito
Larger Purpose – Promote Chicharones
Fave Act – Chicharones
Local Shout-out – Grayskul
Inner Torment Glimpsed – "Didn't get laid at SXSW and that is a good thing. Or is it?"
Brochure Quote – "Dressing up as Mario (Sleep) and Luigi (me) and the Princess Peach (DJ Zone), we single handedly made the boat party straight weird. We came out to the Super Mario Bros theme music and made everyone uncomfortable and full of joy."
Folk chanteuse Raina Rose (link)
Tours Of Duty – She spent her first six years in Los Angeles; conversion chart inconclusive but we'll assume that equals 2
Names Dropped – Her friend Gingus has met Hanson, Lou Reed, and Ben Harper while volunteering for the festival
Science Dropped – Strap guitar to back; hold hand with friend to avoid separation when crossing streets
Larger Purpose – Perform with John Elliott and Anthony da Costa at neighboring event
Fave Act – Gingus, clearly
Local Shout-out – Designated hand-holder Amy
Inner Torment Glimpsed – " …everyone was outwardly staring either like we had lepercy or we were a possible famous person sighting."
Brochure Quote – "This place explodes in a profusion of wild colors, highly priced drinks, the shortest of the short shorts, rockstar haircuts, and general partiers/revelers"
Singer/songwriter Jacob Golden (link)
Tours Of Duty – 1
Names Dropped – The Black Keys, M. Ward, My Morning Jacket's Jim James
Science Dropped – Avoid 6th Street venues, insects, humility
Larger Purpose – Perform with Ward and James
Fave Act – His magnificence reflected through Ward and James' spiraling awe
Local Shout-out – Ward, Kimya Dawson
Inner Torment Glimpsed – "There's literally a band playing in every little corner, most incredibly loud alt rock bands in skinny jeans all trying to out loud or out cool one another in the hopes of some mr. big so and so out there will hear them and make them the new it band."
Brochure Quote – "It was so nice to have a bit of sanctuary from the madness and to play to such a quiet enthusiastic audience. These are the kind of tours I want to do. So much of the time the little nuances and subtlety of the lyrics get lost, but at a show like this when I can bring my voice done to almost a whisper, i feel like the essence of my songs can come through and I'm able to connect with the audience on a much more intimate level."
Neo-marxist punk legend/quasi-fascist advertising exec Dave Allen (link)
Tours Of Duty – Truly? One would know more from not attending.
Names Dropped – Pharrell, Van Morrison, Judge Dredd
Science Dropped – Technology shall reshape society; disbelievers must be culled
Larger Purpose – Pay $800 to ignore trade conference; decry wasteful idiocy of music business; take pictures of Judge Dredd
Fave Act – Clipse/Cut Copy
Local Shout-out – …Intel?
Inner Torment Glimpsed – "Ok, yesterday you could tell which way the wind was blowing as the geeks retreated and the "beautiful people," you know dressed upped to be dressed down, started to fill the blocks around the convention center."
Brochure Quote – "Let's be straight here, SXSW is a great convention and a great gathering of talent (the artists) and minds but it feels like it needs a firmer hand at the rudder. More on that later."