As the rest of the country is poring over injury reports and the RPI Index to make sure their NCAA brackets are in order, those of us with even a small stake in the music business are gearing up for a completely different kind of March Madness. That’s right, it’s SXSW time again, and as usual, more bands and biz-folk than ever before will descend upon Austin to determine who breaks through and who breaks down, who leaves a lasting impression and who can’t even remember what they did the night before. Trust me, there will be plenty of both.
As a relatively recent Houston transplant, it’s especially gratifying to see a record number of Bayou City artists make the cut, and that – with all due respect to Bun B, MDDL FNGZ, Circle G’z, Devin the Dude & the Coughee Brothaz, Perseph1 and the other performers making Houston’s hip-hop delegation as strong as it’s ever been - this rising tide has lifted everyone from indie-rock favorites Young Mammals, Tontons and Linus Pauling Quartet (all appearing at the “Houston Press Presents” showcase at the Tap Room Thursday, March 14) to experimentalists David Dove & the Nameless Sound ensemble and Space City Gamelan to the country/roots of Katie Stuckey and the Blaggards into the SXSW maelstrom. God help them all.
And, of course, as a relatively recently departed Austinite, I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends, seeing what new musical tricks they’ve got up their sleeves, how much free beer and barbecue I can mooch at their parties and what other sorts of late-night mischief they can get me into. There’s really no way to put into words the kind of mania that takes hold once you’re in the eye of the SXSW storm, but here are the past five festival wrap-ups I wrote for the Austin Chronicle. They ought to give you at least a small taste of what me and my Press colleagues are in for next week, and please stay tuned to Houstoned Rocks from now until then for ongoing SXSW coverage from both the Press and our Village Voice sister papers and, more than likely, a nervous breakdown or two. See you on the other side! – Chris Gray