Friday, March 25, 2011
Had to wait a few days before posting about SXSW just because I didn't want to be part of the social networking tsunami responding to it. Have to say it's amazing considering Twitter just debuted there three years ago. When I arrived in Austin on the 15th I caught a heady feeling among the attendees that really gave me a sense of deja vu. The energy and excitement of discovery among the young people who'd come for the event was palpable, and it reminded me of the way I felt the first few years of the festival, which I've been coming to since the beginning. SXSW was always about discovery and about forming a community among like minded people who would never meet each other under any other circumstances. The first few years offered a dramatic contrast to the main music business conference, the New Music Seminar in New York. Back then the corporate giants of the entertainment industry ruled popular music and the indie bands and alternative weekly magazines that powered SXSW created a true alternative reality. The early years were revelatory to me. I was a music columnist for the wire service UPI and SXSW introduced me to a whole array of Texas rock & roll that I wasn't aware of, great bands like the Wild Seeds and the True Believers, really interesting stuff like the Killer Bees and Ponty Bone and the amazing Carolyn Wonderland. Over the years I have never lost that sense of discovery at SXSW. Every year something hits me from out of the blue. I'm going to post a series of observations about the 25th annual SXSW over the next week or so.