This is the first year we are attempting to forgo the day parties, full of free booze and music, to take in some of the informative panels offered by SXSW in the Austin Convention Center. It's not easy walking past day parties foisting beer and burritos on you, but we are doing it.
The first panel we sat in on (that didn't include Jewel's cleavage) was "Juggalos To Phish-Heads: Managing Fanatical Music Consumers". Obviously know by now that we are partial to one of those groups in the title more than the other, seeing how much we have covered the adventures Insane Clown Posse and Houston's rabid Juggalo community.
The talk was moderated by Amy Miller who is with Ticketfly, billed as "Ticketmaster's biggest competition" and one of their first big operations was a past Phish ticketing program. Also on the dais was Ethan Kaplan, who is best known for his R.E.M. mega-fan site murmurs.com.
Miller illustrated what a Juggalo was through a few pictures and YouTube video from a past Gathering Of The Juggalos, which drew snickers and shock from some of the more genteel attendees. We did a slight "woop woop" under our breath, which we tried to make audible.
The four-person panel discussed horror stories involving rabid fanbases online and in the real world offline, from suicidal fans to the inherent anger that comes with beloved bands making career choices that some of their flock don't agree with.
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Also most interesting was the point that Not Shocking's Corey Denis brought up, remarking that most people who are hellacious devotees of a band, the people who sell family heirlooms for B-sides and posters, are all narcissists. They see themselves in a band, be it lyrical content or image, and therefore will defend them to the last letter, as if the band is a child or loved one.
Cool stuff, and we didn't leave with a hangover. More panels to come this week.