South By Southwest is a different type of musical festival, catering more to the industry than fans.
For starters, access is extremely difficult. When I was in Austin last week, being a “VIP” was meaningless unless your band was headlining the festival or you were a celebrity. Ticket prices were astronomically priced in an effort to prevent the event from becoming another Bonnaroo or Coachella. Official SXSW bands received wristbands, which allowed them some access to events and shows.
Crowd attendance for shows was varied and unpredictable. The setup for venues is very similar to that of our MidPoint Music Festival. Nearly every bar in Austin’s downtown area participates. Venues like Stubb’s, where headliners like She and Him, Muse and Band of Horses performed, would have thousands of fans waiting for hours in lines that wrapped around the building and down the street.
Seeing and hearing the responses to Cincinnati’s bands was very encouraging. Click on the band names below to see my photos of their performances; unfortunately, the natural chaos of SXSW hindered us from seeing every local band perform.
The Seedy Seeds had BD Riley’s at maximum capacity and a devoted crowd outside the bar listening through the open windows. A couple from Mexico drove four hours to see Bad Veins play a free show. You, You're Awesome, while one of the opening acts for The Cool Kids, signed a copy of their CD for two middle-aged African-American women who demanded photos with the band.
It was interesting to travel with a band like You, You’re Awesome that's at the beginning of their career. The glitz and glam were instantly stripped away by the routine of setting up and breaking down equipment and loading and reloading the car.
Like the hundreds of other bands that traveled the world to play in Austin’s empty venues, however, a sense of purpose lingered in the air for them. They simply came to play music.