River City ~ Dispatches from Austin

Sunday, March 20, 2005

On the Eve of Disruption

This is the first of a series of articles written for PROGRESSIONSESSION (http://prosession.blogspot.com/) chronicling the writer's experiences at the 2005 South by Southwest music festival.

Greetings from Austin, where the city prepares for the invasion of more than 1,300 bands from across the world for South By Southwest. Everything will change over the next four days. Traffic will become weird (ever sit in rush hour at midnight?). Lunch breaks will become "concert breaks," and work hours in general will be random and meaningless. Many people will be drunk. Many ear drums rattled. And the only thing flowing more profusely than the music and alcohol will be cash. This is an orgasmic time for local bars, restaurants, hotels, musicians, street vendors, and the homeless.

Oh, at $130 a pop (at the most recent selling price), I declined to buy a wristband. I'll do things the way I've done them the last few years... by running up and down the streets seeing where I can get in, and paying close attention to whether the sounds coming out of those buildings are more like rock n' roll and less like cats being strangled. But I'm optimistic. SXSW is a lot of fun, and one will usually be lucky enough to catch more good shows than bad. And some of them are free. And sometimes the beer is free!

Life is good. It is all about who you know, or who you can convince that you are important enough to be invited to their private gig, no strings attached. If Scott Patterson - local schmo needs to become "Scott Patterson - Columbia Records talent scout" for a week, I think God will forgive me. After all, the business cards I ordered special for this occasion came in today. On the back of the card is a listing of the types of beer I prefer, as well as a check box that says "Weed: (yes) or (no)."

It's checked "yes."

So I'll plan to give y'all the 'outside scoop' so to speak. From the guy without the wristband, who is low on cash, and has no plan whatsoever yet of where to go, or who to see. I wouldn't have it any other way. So as we all await the glorious dawn that, like some redneck shooting a rifle into the air, will signal "GO!" for SXSW, entertain yourselves by looking over the bands and schedule. Send me recommendations. And if you know someone in a band who happens to be here, ask them to invite me to their party. http://2005.sxsw.com/music/showcases/date/2005-03-16.html

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