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Houston's SXSW Strategy

Seeing the Elephant

South by Southwest is less a music festival than a force of nature, a ravenous beast that for one week in March consumes everything in its path and the surrounding countryside. But it's also like the old joke about the blind men and the ­elephant: it can be whatever you want it to be.

Some folks go through two boxes of business cards schmoozing from dawn till dusk (and vice versa), others use their Austin idyll as a working vacation — read: easy expense write-off, though perhaps not so easy this year — and others still as a graduate-level liver examination to see how much free booze that beleaguered vital organ can stand.

First at the Austin Chronicle and now at the Houston Press, Noise has never really bothered to develop a specific SXSW strategy. Since he's on the clock 24-7 this week anyway, he prefers to go where the four SXSW winds take him and see how many notebook pages that fills up — last year it was about 200, if memory serves. The old friends Noise always runs into randomly on the street or in line are without fail the best sources of SXSW insider gossip and hot band/party tips.

To get an idea of what others are expecting from SXSW, though, Noise polled several members of this year's Houston delegation for both their musical and professional agendas. For the record, the only artists he's willing to stand in line for this year are New Wave techno-satirists Devo Friday at the Austin Music Hall and, since he missed them at Toyota Center last November, Me-fucking-tallica Saturday night at Stubb's — though, for that one, he figures he'll be able to hear just fine from the roof of Brackenridge Hospital.

(Note: Showcase times are listed according to the day they begin; i.e., 1 o'clock Friday morning would be listed as 1 a.m. Thursday. Confusing, but that's SXSW for you.)

Matthew Wettergreen, Caroline Collective: "My goal is to highlight the successes we've experienced in Houston over the past year by using a ­community-focused model for improving conditions, and to demonstrate the wealth of talent and fertility of the Houston community — and not just music, but interactive, the tech people and the film community.

"I'm speaking on a panel at SXSW Interactive, and we're having a party celebrating all things Houston called Houston @SXSW, and it celebrates music, film and interactive; it's the first party of its kind to incorporate all three."

Looking Forward To: "I haven't finished all my research, so I'll just say I'm excited to see Houston bands playing to a national audience. Is that okay?"

Cley Miller, vocals/guitar, Young Mammals: "Our goal first and foremost is just to play our shows well and have a good time. Also, as far as attending goes, we just want to see as many bands [as we can] we wouldn't normally get to see. We want to check out a bunch of international acts.

"Last year, I tried to go [to the Convention Center], but was always too exhausted from the night before that I never made it out. This year, my goal is if I'm awake I'll try to go to the Convention Center and see what's going on. I remember last year I was like, 'I'm gonna go to this, this, this and this,' and didn't even make one."

Looking Forward To: "They've come through a bunch, but for some reason no one in our band has ever seen Dirty Projectors. There's a few bands from Germany that are coming, and a few Japanese bands. I've heard their music but can never remember their actual names."

Showcase: 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 18,at Spiro's, 615 Red River St.

Beau Beasley, bassist, Homopolice: "To be honest, I never in my life, and still at this point, want nothing to do with South by Southwest. I try to avoid it like the plague. This year was just a favor to a friend and it kind of mutated into something else. Once it's over, I plan to be back in Houston as soon as possible. I want to stay away. I think it's stupid."

Looking Forward To: "Nobody. I'd like to see Devo, but I'm not sticking around the whole fuckin' weekend just for that."

Showcase: 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, at the Scoot Inn, 1304 E. 4th St.

Cody Swann, vocals/guitar, Wild Moccasins: "One thing is I really want to play as much as we can and try to widen our audience. We've only played in Austin I think about four or five times now. I think we're going to be playing about eight — like seven day shows and our showcase. I'm hoping that we can increase our fanbase significantly and just get some experience doing that many shows back-to-back since we're going to be going on tour in June.

"I definitely want to try to make it out [to the Convention Center]. I haven't had a chance to look too much at some of the panels I'd be interested in going to yet, but I think I'm probably going to be using [last Wednesday] to see which bands I'm interested in going to see during our down time and which panels I want to go see. That's one thing that's slipped my mind, but I definitely think it would be for the good of the band."

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