Mar 18 2012, 13h07
It was my first, most likely not my last, but what a week of experiences it was in Austin, Texas at SxSW. The shortest way to describe the conference: the good, the bad and the super ugly.
First, let’s start with the good: everyone in the music industry is attending. You have an opportunity to talk shop with all of your colleagues and no one gets bored with the conversation. Music, music and more music were the topics of not only the day, but the week. My highlight was hearing the keynote address by Bruce Springsteen. He clearly had a great speechwriter, but he was also very prepared and just plain entertaining, and inspiring, at the same time.
The bad: trash everywhere you looked. For some reason, people forgot how to use trashcans when they arrived in the pretty city of Austin. The city is completely destroyed from the idiots who left their manners home. And while the people from Austin did not seem to mind, it really bothered me.
The super ugly: unfortunately, because the scene has grown, really to over capacity, the bars are forced to allow anyone to perform, and most of those I heard, were not ready to be on stage. Then, you have the sound engineers in the clubs who attempted to drown out the badly playing bands with volumes that made your ears bleed. To top things off, the lines were longer than then the Mississippi river and were filled with day drinkers who started their beer runs at 10 AM.
Did I see some great bands….well, a few. Music was everywhere, all day and all nightlong. There is so much offered, you have to pick and choose, and it is not easy. One thing is very clear about Austin, given all of the live music venues, it is an incubus for raising bands. I wish all cities gave musicians those same opportunities. One of my favorite moments was when a local said ‘oh a cover band….yuck!.’ Loved it!
So, will I do it again? Somewhere between perhaps and most likely.
Will I bring better walking shoes? For sure!