SXSW as an Austinite

Before I talk about SXSW, I want to address the fabulousness that was 30 Rock last night.  As a person who has an extreme love/hate relationship with, this episode really hit all my buttons.  I also have a secret dislike for Sarah Silverman and I have a feeling they were making fun of her too?  Though I also heard people saying it was Olivia Munn.   Either way – well played, Lemon, well played.

Someone named Sady Doyle pretty much summed up my thoughts on her tumblr so I am posting a link here. Too bad I saw that before I wrote my blog post, you guys are totally missing out. (Not really)

Now, to the topic at hand. I have been to SXSW twice before, in 2007 and 2008, but I didn’t live in Austin at that time. I also had a lot more spending money back then,  so I purchased a badge and stayed at the Driskill, and pretended I was a fancy pants journo when really I was just blogging for my (former) friend’s website. Having a badge makes you feel special because you get to go to all the parties, and hobnob with real journos, and pretend you actually accomplished your goal in life of being a music journalist when actually you are just a boring-ass admin.


The thing is, people who live in Austin don’t seem too excited about SXSW. Most everyone I know who lives here has never been. When I try to get tips for parking, or how to get into the free shows or where the best local events are, they say they have no idea. They pretty much avoid the entire downtown area for the month of March. I think this is pretty sad, but I haven’t been there as a local yet.  There might be a reason I haven’t discovered.

Even though I have no badge, and no wristband, I am going to at least go downtown when I can and soak in the atmosphere. Even if I can’t get into the “cool” panels, or movies, or concerts, I can people-watch, and have good food, and hang out at the hotel lobbies to get away from the crowds.  There are bands playing everywhere, so maybe I will find a new band that I will actually enjoy. There is absolutely no point in trying to get into the shows at Stubb’s without a badge, so never mind that. Not that I really want to see The Strokes or Duran Duran. (I have seen Duran Duran plenty enough times in my life, and I know for a fact that by 12:30pm the port-a-potties at Stubb’s will be nauseating.)

When I tried to look at the bands listed to play this year, I have to admit I wasn’t too excited. I am not much on 90s nostalgia, because to me the 90s were what took away the 80s. The 80s was the BEST DECADE EVER and I was lucky to have lived through it and enjoyed it. Then the 90s came, and I became a grownup with no money, and all the bands stopped being colorful and fun and exciting and instead were drab and colorless and sang about going hungry. It was a sad, sad time in my life.

Luckily, the 2000s came along. There was so much great music made in 2005, I am not even kidding. I really think that the mid 2000s rival the 80s for sheer volume of extremely amazing music. But I digress…

I am realizing that another reason locals don’t really care about SXSW could be because the bands that play there usually come back around and play a real show. For example – Fitz and the Tantrums are playing Waterloo Records free show on 3/16. I was totally going to ask if I could leave work early to go to that show. Then the band announced a full-length show at La Zona Rosa on 4/19! Obviously, I’d much rather see a full show than a truncated festival set. Now I don’t have to worry about seeing them at SXSW.

Since I am becoming an old fogey, I don’t know 90% of the bands that are playing the festival anyway. It seems easier to just catch the bands I really like when they play here for a real show. That being said, I will still mingle with the crowds downtown, just because it will be fun. I have seen a lot of weird stuff on 6th Street during SXSW.

Here’s to keeping Austin weird!


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