Screeching Weasel, 2011. Ben Weasel, foreground, hit a young woman in the face during an altercation at the band's SXSWÂ showcase on Friday night.
â€śThe music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. Thereâ€™s also a negative side.â€ťâ€”Hunter S. Thompson
Austin's Sixth Street in full swing on Wednesday night.
AUSTINâ€”Though the vast majority of those attending South by Southwest avoid the convention center like the plague, opting to spend their days eating free barbecue or tacos and hearing yet more bands at parties sponsored by labels, publicity firms, radio stations, or corporations eager to cozy up to the cool, the conference continues to offer a full roster of 180 discussions with some 700 panelists. And the best of these can be every bit as entertaining or infuriating as a much-buzzed gig.
AUSTINâ€”As usual, the mix of overwhelming dread and undeniable excitement that characterize South by Southwest hit me at the gate at Oâ€™Hare on Tuesday morning as I climbed aboard a flight dominated by iPhone-obsessed hipsters dressed in black and with moods to match, all heading to Americaâ€™s biggest annual gathering of whatever it is that passes for a music industry in 2011.
The dread is a result of knowing that it will be hard to escape these throngs for the next six days and to maintain some semblance of health and sanity amid the nearly 24-hour-a-day assault of frantic music and hyperbolic buzz.
The excitement stems from pretty much the same places: It always is inspiring to reconnect with so many people from around the world who believe and truly care about music, and to hear so much that invariably thrills and surprises.