Monday, March 19, 2007

South by Southwest 2007, a Recap

Highs and the lows, wrapped up into one posting. It's the music festival that comes to Austin every year, and touts free BBQ and Miller Light to fans, 'industry professionals', bands, and lots of free tshirts and other goodies.

The panels are great, I got to see David Byrne put up some interesting graphs about the greed and beurocracy of the industry, and also of Britney Spears popularity demographics. I got to hear Pete Townsend compare the industry as it exists today as 'nero is playing the fiddle, and rome is burning'

I got to hang out with the usual crew, Mike D, Ashley came out every now and then, Manuelabor and Lacinator rolled into town one day, and other casual friends as well. It's always a reunion of sorts, admist the calamity around you.

I got to meet some great people, most noteworthy, a dude from the frosty north named Martin, an all around cool, calm, collected, cultured, computer geek, and also reconnect with Meghan, someone who I painted the town with some years back. I didn't bring the business cards down, but amoung the people I met that I plan to stay in touch with, a few lawyer types, a few record store types, and other random folks.

The day shows are spectacular, the night, well sucks. My visa card paid 425 bucks for the music badge, and I found myself not getting into venues I wanted to go to. I can't imagine how the owners of wristbands felt, when their 160 dollar band couldn't get them into half of what I was rollin' in. I talked to an 'industry professional' and his sentiments were, its not for the public, its a trade show. Well SCREW THAT, it's just as much for the fans as it is a 'trade show.' If you want to make it a pure trade show, jack the badge prices up to 1500 bucks, make the same revenue, have good bands play to 50 stiffs per night. I'd like to see how the elitist like hanging out with their type of 'like minded' people day in and day out. Next year, I will stick to the free food and beer parties, and actually sleep at night, I'll probably have a better disposition that way anyway.

Stamina, not a human being out there can go that hard for that many days in a row without it having an effect on their mood. In the thick of it, its hard to have the 'pace yourself' mentality, but for my old ass, I believe it to be essential.

One of my friends says its when Austin turns into Los Angeles for a few days, and the baggage that comes with a music festival of this sort includes industry people 'one upping' each other about how important they are, good or not so good intentions / empty promises, and the meatheads snorting 8 balls in the stall next to you in the pisser. The 'upper end' of the industry professionals have their eye on an illusive prize, which in the future will be distributed in the hands of where it should be, the artist. The 'lower end' of the 'industry' just hasn't had the time to let it corrupt them, my opinion about the music business.

For the fan and casual observer, its a riot, have beer, have bbq, go to shows, take pictures, and for the tourists, the event is off the hook, but as a local, I found myself frequently going off the beaten path for solice, meeting in places I'd know there'd be familiar faces, and looking outside going, whew, I can't wait for a typical weekend, where there's only 1/4 of the volume, but still volume and fun.

At the end of the day, I'm happy about the 45 million in revenue it brings to the city, I'm happy our mayor says our pro sports team is music and he will continue to fund it, and I'm happy I don't have to head back home to Wisconsin, Nebraska, Halifax, or any other city that needs something even 1 / 10th this 'cool' --- and despite my bitchin' and moanin', the grassroots stuff that goes on in Austin is like nothing else, and I'll continue to find ways to cherish it, as my exposure and perception of it changes.

1 comment:

Shannon Gillar Of The Sugarland Gillars said...

Sounds like you had a blast, but age may be catching up with you..

I love that your mayor says your pro team is music... Classic...