SXSW: The Beginning

March 15, 2012

To call SXSW overwhelming is a massive understatement. Don't let the few square block radius fool you (seriously, it's a lot more walking than it looks like) it's like they took everyone who goes to Coachella and threw em into a 5x5 section of downtown austin, built 10 different stages w / conflicts abound, and made it 5 days long so you could catch everything.  Most bands play multiple sets from official showcases, to parties, to...well some people just play in the middle of the street, but generally those are the sort of acts you wish were playing nowhere. All of this centers around 6th st. Closed for traffic and lined with bars, venues, things that've been converted to venues, it's impossible not to get caught in a crossfire of sounds. Every corner you turn, every 8 steps you take, some new band is playing. Is it all good? Debatable, but it's there none the less. More of an industry showcase than a festival, it's a shot for some of these bands to find exposure to important folk they'd never otherwise come in contact with (though just playing sxsw isn't enough, you've gotta be on the right bills at the right time).

From an attendee standpoint, even to simply enjoy and see the bands you like is an enormous undertaking.  Planning started weeks ago. From RSVPing to parties, to Scheduling out your weekend, to getting their early enough and having the patience to wait for the things you want to see, it'll try your patience and combined with heavy drinking, definitely wear you down. (side note: definitely wait till youre 21 to hit the scene because 90% of the good stuff is in a bar setting) Getting into shows here is tough, and you realize right away that whatever you planned on seeing when you arrived, definitely cut that at least in half. Especially if it's something at a venue on 6th. If it's further out and you have a badge, you shouldn't have any trouble though.

Onto the music! For tonight it was all about france. Housse De Racket, a duo comprised of studio musicians gone rogue who pumped out a killer alum produced by none other than Phillipe Zdar (producer of Phoenix, The Rapture, Etc...) took the stage in fantastic form. Wall of synths blaring, and energy abound, they brought down the roof (had there been one. The show went down at the Mohawk patio which looks a whole lot like a mini coliseum). Guitarist, Pier flailed around the stage with arena style antics, Drummer victor relentlessly pounding the skins as everyone danced their hearts out under a clear night sky. It's moments like that you remember that music isn't supposed to be about hype, or seeing the the biggest, or the coolest band. It's about taking in what you truly enjoy and appreciating it for the moment. The boys hit Chop Suey on April 6th, do NOT miss that show.

Next up was Yelle DJ's who are.... you nailed it, Yelle's DJ's. And though the set was billed as such, Yelle herself made a surprise appearance and blazed through a number of hits while the guys pumped out amazing amounts of electro through the speakers. It was clear from the start that it would be tough to pull away from, especially once she took to the stage, but alas, sometimes these things have to be done.  It's interesting at fests like this how you learn what's important to you as I made the half hour walk down to Lakai lounge to see Alan Braxe spin.  One of the originators of French touch along side Daft Punk and Fred Falke, it was the only way that felt right to end a night that had already started with 2 of Frances finest, and he delivered beyond expectation. Onto day 2! (yes that is a giant vending machine that is actually a stage)