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SXSW Outsider: Day 1 (or... this could never happen in Chicago)

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Wednesday I started my day with the awesome Lunchbox chat discussion on SXSW. After grabbing lunch with WBEZ-ers Nick White and Jason Saldanha and the inimitable Lunchbox guest Jesse Thorn, I sat in traffic for a very long time looking for a parking spot. (Does that count as breaking my only rule of not waiting in lines? I don’t think it does.) Eventually I made it to a day party where one of the bands Jim DeRogatis mentioned in The Lunchbox was playing. They’re called Those Darlins and since I enjoyed their set, I shot a tiny bit of video since I didn’t see DeRo there.

After the day parties end around 6pm, official SXSW attendees start lining up for the evening showcases. I was less than a block from the world famous Stubbs and the already-forming line for the NPR Music party when I witnessed one of the purest forms of SXSW’s promise- a random band making it happen on the sidewalk.

Unfortunately there wasn’t any sign or indication what the band was called- I think I overheard their manager call them something involving “a dog.” This has been a problem a few times this week- bands will perform and never ID themselves. Come on rockers, take a cue from rappers and make it easier on us! I must say, happening upon a decent music performance in the street is amazing. It happened to me again later in the night in East Austin. Check out this video of it.

I was in East Austin to escape the awfulness I found on the 6th Street strip. Blame it on St Patrick’s Day, UT fratboys or Clear Channel, it was more like Mardi Gras than a music festival.

Having no krewe to parade with, I ventured over to the other side of Interstate 35 and was pleased to find a more relaxed music-focused atmosphere on the “sketchy” side of town. It felt much more like a Logan Square/Humboldt Park kind of scene.

One stop I made in East Austin was the showcase for Chicago’s own HoZac Records. The show was held in the corner of a record store and was very well attended- filling not only the building, but the parking lot as well. A few Chicagoans I spoke with were surprised but excited by all the attention HoZac this year. Just before leaving I heard that the liquor store across the street from the show was completely sold out of everything (in true Chicago fashion, the event was BYOB).

I left the HoZac show when a rumor started circulating that The Vivian Girls had announced a surprise show on Twitter. The future Sound Opinions guests were in a tiny room on E 6th Street. Around 75 to 100 people squeezed in and were treated to a very intimate show from The Vivian Girls and their friends in a band called Best Coast. I’ve been hearing more and more about Best Coast and have to say I really enjoyed their set. I guess I wasn’t the only one...

And on to Day 2!

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As her three-year tenure comes to a close, Jessie Montgomery reminisces over her time with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and shares her inspirations.
Some residents and business owners are happy to see the traffic and noise leave and for the community to regain access to green space. Others are sorry to lose the excitement and crowds.
The festival will be exiting Douglass Park after a 10-year run that has been plagued by controversy in recent years.
The festival’s co-founder, Mike Petryshyn, shared the announcement in a video posted to social media and on the festival’s website Tuesday evening. The new venue will be announced Wednesday morning with this year’s lineup.
On Thursday, the orchestra will perform a final work from Montgomery — the grace note on her wildly prolific three-year run as the city’s adopted new-music superstar.