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