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The Ross Who Knew Too Much

Thursday, March 17, 2005

It's freezing in Texas. Who knew?

South by Southwest Day One in brief: Cold, crowded, but still a blast.

Thanks to unseasonably chilly temperatures in the 40s and a record turnout -- 1,350 bands playing on nearly 60 stages -- SXSW's music festival kicked off amidst some grumbling in Austin, Texas. Hundreds of grumpy, sleep-deprived rock critics, publicists and fans waited up to two hours or more just to pick up the $500 badges that allow entry to some, but not all, of the performances and panels happening throughout the weekend.

My day started unfeasibly early at the airport, aboard a full plane split fairly evenly between bleary eyed Twin Cities rock types (First Avenue's bookers, Red House Records' publicists and the like) and bewildered-looking businessmen wondering why they had such trouble booking a hotel in Austin.

Once in town, I waded through the badge line and chatted with eager fans who'd flown in from as far away as Japan, Germany and England to bask in the SXSW glow. I also talked to a GQ editor who described his weekend's mission as such: "I need to report back if I see any bands who'll look good in suits" for future GQ fashion spreads. I'm thinking a band like this would make the cut before, say, these guys or these guys.

Badge finally in hand (or more accurately around my neck), I picked up the notorious SXSW freebie bag -- a heavy canvas tote filled with magazines, sampler CDs and lots of ads for shows no one will ever actually have the time to go see -- and joined a cadre of current and former MSP rock writers for some pre-concert revelry. At the table: Chuck Klosterman, Keith Harris, Melissa Maerz, Michaelangelo Matos, Alex Pappademas, Rex Sorgatz and (as the night went on) a bunch of other people whose names are familiar only to fellow music nerds who read bylines (i.e., other rock writers).

Among the topics discussed:

-- That one guy from Eurodisco one-hit-wonders the Real McCoy has a blog.

-- The merits of SXSW buzz band: The Bravery. Conclusion: They're the 21st century Candlebox, but they look good in suits.

-- The merits of SXSW buzz band: Louis XIV. Conclusion: Is naming your group after a historical figure the new black? Possibly.

-- Those journalists who agreed to file daily reports from SXSW and maintain a blog are crazy.

Also, since this is a music blog, I feel compelled to mention the bloggiest band in the entire blogosphere, the Arcade Fire. One of the hottest SXSW rumors is that the much-loved Canadian band would be the unannounced "special guests" at the Merge Records showcase. But since they're actually playing live in London tonight, that seems highly unlikely. More probable is a Dinosaur Jr reunion, 'cause reunions are all the rage these days, you know.


Blogger johnnyShortshorts said...

Wow. That conversation with the writers sounds, ummm, utterly fascinating.

7:36 PM  

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