Our SXSW experience was fast-moving and a little blurred around the edges. The evening we arrived, we threw ourselves head first into the madness of 6th Street and consumed some enormous taco sculptures to get in the mood. But the serenity of our rented house in the suburbs also appealed, so we stole away from the crowds for what was probably our only early night.
The fact that Saint Patrick’s Day felt like a quiet Tuesday afternoon only attests to how much of a riot SXSW was. Anyone that went to the festival was not looking to spend a Sunday afternoon getting day-drunk on overpriced Guinness. This was a day to relax, recover and realize that sadly, the rest of my life was not going to solely consist of zig-zagging across Austin chasing an endless supply of free music and booze between playing shows in bars and hotel lobbies. SXSW is like 'Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist' on steroids, crack, acid and anything else you can think of. For one week only, every nook and cranny turns into a secret show Mecca where all the rumors are true. Prince is doing a club gig, Flaming Lips are playing at a bar, and Erykah Badu is George Clinton’s special guest at a garage concert. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to get in, but what can you do? What’s even more insane is that despite all the big name acts, us and our friends could play a bar at 2PM on a Thursday or a hotel lobby on a Saturday afternoon and it would be packed and awesome. I’ve done enough hotel lobby and off-night bar gigs to know that this does not happen in real life.
The other day, a friend of mine named Rob Patterson, writer and editor at the Austin Post, shared a favorite SXSW memory on Facebook. About twenty years ago, he wrote, a young woman approached him somewhere in the maze of “South-By” ground-zero, took his hand, and declared Rob her “SXSW boyfriend.” For the duration of the festival, the two were inseparable stalking the streets of A-town together, catching many the showcase, and doing the things that one assumes good boyfriends and girlfriends do.
Yesterday, footage surfaced of Vampire Weekend doing the new song 'Unbelievers' at SXSW 2013, and now comes more video of the band treating Austin to tunes from their third album, 'Modern Vampires of the City,' due out May 7. Performing last night at Stubb's, the foursome unveiled the thoroughly rocking 'Diane Young' (watch above) and more subdued 'Ya Hey" (below),' which, sadly, isn't OutKast's 'Hey Ya' backwards.
Indians: I went to the Pitchfork party with some friends who really wanted to check this showcase. I arrived early and was bummed about the overpriced alcohol but stuck around to see a band, 'cuz I figured Pitchfork would probably pick some sick s---. Really disappointed. They were all very attractive, but I could totally tell the dude used to play in a emo-core band. I could see it in his eyes. Check 'em out if you were into Dashboard Confessional mixed with modern indie sounds.
Prince closed out SXSW 2013 with a nearly three-hour set comprising hits, surprise covers and typically quotable stage banter, according to numerous sources lucky enough to get in. Backed by the latest version of his New Power Generation -- now with 12-piece horn section -- the Purple Yoda held the stage at Austin's La Zona Rosa until 3AM, stringing together a main set and six encores, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer.
One thing I've learned over 16 years of participating in SXSW is that it is an elaborate game -- one where the audience navigates a series of decisions, and the sum of those decisions, combined with a variety of parameters and subjective criteria, results in success or failure. These concepts are largely subjective within the context of the festival itself; for many locals, the idea of success in the game of SXSW is colored by the enormous logistical inconvenience it causes. Most of my local friends have narrowed down their parameters to seeing local bands at free day parties to ensure a feeling of success by the end of the week -- if your expectations are low, then your chance of success is better. While I always enjoy hanging out with my friends during SXSW, I have always found that opening myself up to any opportunity and allowing the possibility of change has allowed me to have a bounty of life-changing musical experiences over the years.