By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
You don't want to be here. Turn around, go back home. Go see a movie. Go see that new Oz movie, it looks kinda cool. Take advantage of all the empty bars. Save your money and sleep in your own bed.
Take this all as a warning, folks. It's like the last days before the fall of Saigon here, except for all the free Doritos and vodka. Craig Hlavaty
Megabus is a sweet deal, to be sure. If you're lucky enough to be within bus-riding distance of Austin, you can eliminate the hassle of driving for the cost of a very cheap ticket. But do not assume you'll be the only genius with this idea. In fact, assume that it does not take much of a genius at all to have this idea, and that you will end up spending four hours ass-to-ankles with various aspiring rappers, college students and other people whose sole reason for existence is to remind you how much younger they are than you.
Oh, and if you do take Megabus, please remember to bring a hearty supply of lollipops that you can loudly smack for the entire duration of the ride, thereby annoying the shit out of everyone around you. (This advice comes from the guy sitting next to me.) Kiernan Maletsky
A few important questions cross your mind at SXSW:
Will I like the pedicab driver costumed as The Hulk if he gets angry?
Does my badge get me into the shitting space next to the Dumpster?
Why are you standing up front if you're Instagramming during the show?
Why does your Instagram have so many likes so fast? Can you show me what you did?
How badly did it ruin your concert video when I sang along and cried?
Is the video on YouTube yet?
What'd you say? Where are you, dude? Nick RalloRELATED: 50 Important SXSW Music Questions
Thursday, March 14
How SXSW will manage to top the back-to-back positivity and charisma of last year's keynote, Bruce Springsteen, and this year's, Dave Grohl, is beyond me. Grohl's speech managed to turn Nirvana's story into something genuinely inspirational, an affirmation of personal expression.
But by far my favorite little rhetorical turn was the way he made both Pitchfork and reality singing shows look so incredibly silly, just by talking about them in the same sentence. Because it's true, isn't it, that the difference between Christina Aguilera and the lazier end of Pitchfork's criticism boils down to little more than volume of hairspray. Kiernan Maletsky
On the "It's Gotten Too Big" argument: First off, that is totally what she said. Secondly, if you just start embracing SXSW for what it is now, which is a marketing juggernaut slash party slash press junket slash great spring-break destination, it is not so awful. It got too big because all of us in years past have been really good at selling it as a great, badass time. Which it was.
We should have been dogging it this whole time. There are the people who complain about the marquee pop acts taking over the town, but most people who are at SXSW to hear new music were not beating the doors down at Justin Timberlake or Green Day. They were at small venues seeing promising (and unpromising) acts like lame-o no-fun dorks. If you never saw Macklemore & Ryan Lewis this SXSW, you were doing it right.
Let the popped collars have their shows, and let me keep my Central Presbyterian pews and Lustre Pearl backyard. Craig Hlavaty
Friday, March 15
Reignwolf is a one-man band, mostly, when Jordan Cook isn't aided by bass and drums. His Friday night showcase woke me from my SXSW sniffles and aches and actually made me jam out for a change.
He'll probably have to contend with lazy Black Keys references, but give him time. Blues-punk with a dark slant, the likes of which I've only seen Dax Riggs pull off. Plus, Reignwolf is hella acrobatic onstage, so he's tailor-made for sweaty, smallish venues. Craig Hlavaty
Let's just start right up front with the caveats: Douchebags were all over the place at SXSW, preening royalty in the rapidly crumbling House of Music Industry. As a badgeholder, I understand the irony of what I'm about to say here.
But once you separated yourself from the people who were in Austin on "official" business, you quickly found yourself among real, actual music fans, people who came from all over the world to listen to bands play songs and find other humans who also like to do that. The happiest people I found at SXSW were those with the least access. Kiernan MaletskyRELATED: The Five Biggest Sellouts at SXSW
Saturday, March 16
Creedence Clearwater Revival survivor John Fogerty gets overlooked as a riff-happy rocker, with most people concentrating on his good-time Americana rock and roll instead of the flannel-draped volume addict he is. Saturday night, Fogerty and his band ran through nearly every CCR hit, and even played 1985 solo hit "Centerfield," complete with a guitar fashioned after a baseball bat. Or was it a baseball bat fashioned into a guitar?
Best SxSW show I saw was the Split Squad and the Minus 5. Excellent reminder of rock and roll at its exuberant best.
It is too big. There is no way to bar hop around town to catch acts, but it has been this way for the past couple of years. I suggest hanging at the Continental/San Jose/Yard Dog, especially during the day. Every Saturday Mojo Nixon hosts an extravaganza at the Continental. People line up before 9:30am to catch the awesome Allen Oldies Band open and stay to hear Mojo close. BBQ in the back, drinks in the front. R&R heaven.