Don’t be­lieve any fes­ti­val that claims it is just like SXSW

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

I’ve lost count of the num­ber of mu­sic events around the world that claim that they’re just like South By South­west (SXSW). These me-too fes­ti­vals cer­tainly cover the same ter­rain – show­cas­ing new and es­tab­lished bands – but they can’t com­pete with the scale of what hap­pens each March in Austin, Texas.

It’s Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon on the cor­ner where Red River Street and Sixth Street meet, and the mu­sic fes­ti­val is just hours old. The geeks who were here for SXSW In­ter­ac­tive have left town, and the film buffs are in­doors catch­ing up on new flicks and doc­u­men­taries.

For the next few nights and days, these streets will be over-run by thou­sands of fans and in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als look­ing to see as many of the 2,000 bands in town as pos­si­ble.

You have brand new acts look­ing for a dig-out, semi-es­tab­lished bands seek­ing more trac­tion and, in­creas­ingly, a rake of big acts look­ing to cap­i­talise on the SXSW me­dia buzz to pro­mote a new re­lease or tour.

That’s why Foo Fight­ers, The Strokes, Kanye West, Queens of the Stone Age, TV on the Ra­dio, Sleigh Bells, Em­my­lou Har­ris and a cou­ple of other mar­quee acts are head­ing to Austin this week for high-pro­file “se­cret” shows.

While SXSW is re­garded as the world’s lead­ing new-band fes­ti­val, it’s al­ways had its share of su­per­star gigs. In SXSW Scrap­book, a new book mark­ing the fes­ti­val’s 25th an­niver­sary, co-founder Roland Swen­son talks about past SXSW shows from such le­gends as Johnny Cash (1994) and Tom Waits (1999).

For OTR, though, it’s all about catch­ing the best of the new­bies. Stay tuned to the OTR blog for on­go­ing SXSW mu­sic cov­er­age over the week­end. There will be a full round-up in The Ticket next week.

Ring­ing en­dorse­ment: Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells, who are play­ing SXSW

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