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