SXSW Part I

Although the brain pall caused by four solid days and nights of music has yet to lift entirely, I will attempt to begin to dissect South by Southwest 2008.

For starters, let me take on those pathetic souls who would rather wallow in dissension and what's wrong with SXSW. For all the hating, blogosphere jerk-off's who whine and cry and condemn all SXSW's shortcomings—I refuse to mention them because publicity is what these Me! Me! Me! publicity hounds live for—it remains the vital once–a–year coming together of the tribes. If there's one thing the music world could use more of, it's any shred of a sense of community. If you want to bitch about it, then please don't come. I noticed in some of the most negative blog posts, the writers weren't even there. Kind of like reviewing the Black Crowes without listening to the record. Yeah, it's all dollars and cents capitalism on some levels, but it's also about a mass of music. There were 2000 acts at SXSW 2008. If that doesn't get your juices flowing then you need to get away from music because baby, it's over for ya. I mean can't there still be a little joy about music in amongst all the shifty, trying–to–sell–music rat race? If you want to see and get a feel for what is happening in music today, in nearly all genres, Austin during SXSW is it. If you want to feel good again, if only briefly, about the state of music in the world, Austin for a week in March is the place to do it.

Should bands go in expecting to land some gazillion dollar record deal? Hell no. But playing for rooms full of critics and industry folk sure can't hurt and it's infinitely better than playing on Monday nights in some dumpy club in nowheresville for hundred bucks.

The music business is destroying itself fast enough; let's not add to the fires. In general, we need less hate. Being jaded to the point of no return is a terrible thing. Isn't squabbling about nothing and forgetting about music part of what got the business where they are today?

Two brief episodes may be appropriate. I watched as a German band, fresh from a SXSW gig which must have gone very well, felt flush and bought their first ever pairs of cowboy boots. You're in Texas, so of course you gotta buy boots right? Amidst all the waddling around in new boots—the concept that boots unlike Chuck Taylors need to be "broken in" completely escaped them—they were babbling like parrots about their showcase and how all these people, critics, booking agents and label reps, came up and introduced themselves after the gig. I have the feeling that the entire band is now somewhere nursing their blistered and broken feet so some of these opportunities may have to wait until they heal but still, they made a bunch of valuable contacts and got their music some exposure.

The second fond incident was a Spanish band called Tokyo Sex Destruction. The name alone made me stop in to see what they had musically. At SXSW, one of the key principals is a fairly strict adherence to forty five minute sets. If you want to blow your time singing power ballads or running you mouth at the microphone, that's fine but you ain't getting more than 45 minutes. The boys in Tokyo Sex Destruction used up a third of their time soundchecking like they were the Rolling Stones. When you have a bass player endlessly checking his vocal mike—"Check, check, check" enough already!!!!—time begins to crawl by. By the time they finally launched into their first song, the crowd had thinned out. Their music was your basic thrashy punk with no real songs and vocals (in English) that were unintelligible, but watching a rolly poly bass player convulsing across the stage and a lead singer with a Beatles haircut and greenish velvet jacket, jumping off the drum riser like he was the second coming of David Lee Roth made me smile. You cannot have rock 'n' roll without rebellion and ENERGY. Perhaps that's what's best about SXSW: all the energy. It never fails to recharge my batteries.

On this, the sixth anniversary of the war in Iraq let me quote one salient fact: it IS costing a family of four in this country around 16 grand annually to support this wasteful, lethal, mismanged fiasco. The GOP has spent us into disaster. For American taxpayers, winning this war, the Bush McCain mantra, would be getting out. Soon.

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COMMENTS
bertdw's picture

Dissension and hate spawn conflict. "Can't we all just get along?" Apparently not, considering how long that question has been around. I agree with you 99%, Robert. (It's the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq.)

Dave's picture

Don't worry help is on the way soon. When Clinton is elected, it will cost a family of four close to 20 grand annually for the support of the wasteful, lethal, mismanaged fiasco called universal healthcare. They'll make it easy for you too by garnishing your wages. Who ever said government wasn't efficient. It doesn't matter what party is in power, the name of the game is to take and spend your money how they see fit.

Matt's picture

Awesome. Just when I thought I could escape the endless political haranguing of every other news outlet by hearing about some good music, I have to stumble upon this crap. Stick to music and audio equipment Stereophile, please.

mike's picture

Didn't you mean the Bush MCcain Clinton Edwards Gore mantra? Stop with the lefty agenda."In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members... It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well, effects American security. This is a very difficult vote, this is probably the hardest decision I've ever had to make. Any vote that might lead to war should be hard, but I cast it with conviction." Senator Hillary Clinton (Democrat, New York) Addressing

mike's picture

Gosh, didn't you mean the GOP and Dems?Stop the lefty agenda and write about music."Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There's no question about that." Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (Democrat, California) During an interview on "Meet The Press" November 17, 2002

mike's picture

Kerry in support of his mismanaged fiasco:"Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be President, or the credibility to be elected President. No one can doubt or should doubt that we are safer -- and Iraq is better -- because Saddam Hussein is now behind bars." Senator John Kerry (Democrat, Massachusetts) Speech at Drake University in Iowa December 16, 2003

Cory's picture

I subscribe to Stereophile to read and learn about audio equipment and music, not to be subjected to political drivel. I could not care less about your political opinions. Although it is your right to express your beliefs, you should be an equal opportunity politico basher. Do you remember the trashy-scandal ridden Clinton years? Are you aware that Obama is closely associated with one of the most racist and ignorant people in America? Maybe it is time to subscribe to TAS.

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