This is my first visit to Austin's citywide music festival South by Southwest (SXSW). It's been a whirling mass of people, music, dope, schmoozing, music, sex, one-upmanship and music. I expected crowds and great (and not so great music). Here's a list of what I didn't expect but got anyway.
TEN THINGS I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT SXSW
10) Everyone calls it South By. The only time I heard the word "Southwest" was at a restaurant when the waiter was trying to explain Texas food to a Scotsman: "Black bean chili is a Southwest staple." Liar, but not my place to correct someone else's waiter.
9) The cops will arrest you for smoking cigarettes in a bar but will happily look the other way if you light up a joint.
8) Contact highs are fun.
7) "I'm with the band" translates into "I have no self-esteem." Groupie girls are a desperate lot. I think the sheer number of them made it more evident...and sad. Grab a guitar already. Don't be with the band. Be the band.
6) Drunk British guys are funny in an elevator at three in morning...especially if one of them has the hiccups.
5) Nobody should ever sing a Patsy Cline song but Patsy Cline. Someone should have told the Humpy Monkeys that before they tried to do "Sweet Dreams" as an encore.
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4) The most creative thing about some bands is their name. (Yes, I'm referring to the Hump Monkeys again.)
3) How far a band travels to come to SXSW is no indication of how good they are. (Sorry, all you English and German bands that spend all your money getting here -- you don't sound any better just because you've traveled thousands of miles.)
2) Being jetlagged is no excuse for being out off-tune.
1) For every horrible band, there's a Rocco Deluca -- somebody who does something new, something refreshing. Everyone at SXSW is taking a chance. One out of every ten bands is great, one is horrible and the other eight are somewhere in the middle. One out of every ten listeners is a critic, one is drop dead drunk and the other eight are somewhere in the middle. What SXSW does best is match the critic to the great new band and the drunk to the horrible band and everyone else is on their own. -- Olivia Flores Alvarez