South by Southwest!
I first started blogging on Pandagon 6 years ago, during the same week as South by Southwest. And so it’s a tradition dear to my heart to spend this week going to shows, taking pictures, and trying to talk up some good bands I saw. Moving from Austin to New York hasn’t changed this, due to a direct flight from Newark to Austin. After all, politics is my passion, but rock music is my religion. So Austin’s where I am, and I’ve got my camera and of course, my Twitter feed, and I’ll be trying to do a daily update. More and more every year, bands use SXSW as their coming out party, and this year, the big fucking deal is going to be Carrie Brownstein’s new band Wild Flag. Wish me luck getting in to see them!
One thing that I have to mention is that technology has really changed the SXSW experience dramatically. For one thing, SXSWi, the tech and new media conference, is actually bigger now than the music conference. When we got here, we saw the tail end of that part being folded up, including an over-the-top wannabe hipster display from AOL. Because of the interactive component, there is a huge demand for fancy iPhone apps and other such things, and that’s bled over into the music component. In the past, going to see night shows was a matter of pulling the page listing showcases out of the Austin Chronicle, circling the shows you wanted to see, and folding that in your pocket until it became wrinkled, greasy and disgusting. Day shows were all a matter of word of mouth, and really just a lot of wandering around. Now you can carefully schedule all that stuff online, and then download iPhone apps that sync to the schedules you’ve created online. So, you can even pull the address up of a place and probably the directions if you’re not from around here. It’s fabulous.
I was also able to upload my iTunes library to Sonic Living, put “Austin” as a city I’m interested in, and then it generated a list of shows from the bands in my iTunes in Austin. I then went and hit “Add to Calendar” for every one that I was interested in during SXSW, which made a one-page list. Printed that out, cross-referenced it with the schedulers that sync to your iPhone, voila! A full schedule generated. It took like an hour.
What’s disconcerting is that people here have started to perceive Marc and myself as from Not-Here. You know, even though my accent hasn’t changed one bit in a mere year and change in New York. Of course, I think that someone is Not-Here is a safe assumption, so it’s more amusing than anything else. I suspect when I’m back to wearing short sleeve shirts and you can see the ink, people will assume I’m from Austin, because the tattoos-plus-straight-bangs look is very Austin. But I’m always amused at how SXSW is an event that is both a tourist event and very much for people from this city, and so it means that everyone from here gets into the habit of sorting everyone they see into from Here and Not-Here. And how so much of that depends on really subtle things, minor differences in dress and behavior.