Posts Tagged 'music'

South by Southwest Festival

I know I’m super early, but I love this too much to hold it in any longer – the South by Southwest Festival is one of the coolest things about Austin, hands down.  The festival is broken into 3 parts.  It kicks off this year with the Interactive and Film portions of the festival (both start on March 13; the Interactive runs until March 17, and the Film until March 21.)

Billy Bob Thornton at SxSW 2008 (Photo by kris krüg)

Billy Bob Thornton at SxSW 2008 (Photo by kris krüg)

In 2008, Mark Zuckerberg (the founder of the social networking site Facebook), Frank Warren (from the online phenomenon PostSecret) and Jane McGonigal (an established game designer) were the keynote speakers for the Interactive fest. The Film fest showcased the hit films 21 and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, among many, many others.

Then. . .there is the music part. The SxSW Music Festival is undoubtedly one of the coolest fests to hit Austin, because it attracts people from all across the music industry, and also brings hundreds of bands into town, both big and small. In my three years at the music fest, I’ve had the honor of listening to Neil Young, Pete Townshend, and Lou Reed keynote, have listened to Iain Archer perform in a tiny Irish pub while the guys from Snow Patrol stood next to me, and ran into Teitur (literally) on my way to a show. On a personal note, I always love the fest, because it has always been on my birthday in past years. This is the first year where I will turn 22 two days before the music fest kicks off, but that’s OK – I’m just glad I’ll be 21 for the duration of the festival! (It helps, a LOT.)

A few bands have already been named for the 2009 Music Fest, including St. Vincent, Sage Francis and Anni Rossi. To keep up with all of the SxSW announcements of keynote speakers, performers and panel folk, you can follow them on twitter, but I think it’s more efficient to check out the Austin, TX Showlist and SxSW Baby!

Elijah Wood DJs at SxSW 2008 (Photo by aaron)

Elijah Wood DJs at SxSW 2008 (Photo by aaron)

One huge complaint about the festival is that it is incredibly expensive to attend, and that if you don’t have a badge or wristband, it’s almost impossible to get into shows. I always shell out the money for a badge, because – let’s be honest, this is all I do with my life. I paid $550 for my badge this year, which is definitely a huge sum of money that many can’t afford. Wristbands aren’t on sale yet, but they are usually upwards of $100, if memory serves me. *If* you just want to pay for a few shows, make sure you arrive at the venue REALLY, REALLY early – otherwise, you probably won’t get in. And if it’s a band like Vampire Weekend, who had so much buzz at the 2008 festival that honey came out of their noses, don’t bother; it is highly, highly unlikely you’ll make it in without a wristband or badge. What happens is, three lines are formed – a line for badges, a line for wristbands and a line for everyone else. The badge folk are let in first, followed by the wristband folk, and then everyone else. And as more and more badges show up, they’ll get trickled in to the already-moving lines. It can definitely seem unfair, but remember that badge people are usually industry people, and the bands really need them to see their sets and write about them/get excited about them, etc.

Keynotes should be announced soonish, so get excited about this festival! Hey, we start celebrating winter holidays way too early, why not celebrate an awesome music festival 3 months early?

How do you feel about SxSW? Lemme know!

-Caitlin

Fun Fun Fun Fest 2008 Redux

Though Jane previewed this fabulous fest, it is now time to review it! This was my first year at the Fun Fun Fun Fest, and I can honestly add it to my list of reasons why I love Austin. I did a vlog about it, so that is forthcoming, but I wanted to briefly mention some bands I loved so I could link to them:  Bishop Allen on day one were fantastic, and the lead singer reminded me of Paul Simon, which is always a plus; The National on the first day blew me away, and it was especially moving that this was their last live show for a while; day two was dominated in my heart and mind by the Delware-ians, The Spinto Band – AMAZING, people; St. Vincent was the rockin’est female guitarist that I saw the entire festival; and finally, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were energetic, great musicians and a ton of fun.

Now watch as I embarass myself with my sad, sad editing skillz. *NOTE* that Tim Barry from the Revival Tour does use profanity in his short segment, so when I introduce that in the video, you are welcome to fast forward through that part if it offends you. I just couldn’t leave it out, because I loved what he was saying!

-Caitlin

A little hate, a lotta love.

Last Friday, the fabulous Jason Mraz graced Austin with his groovy tunes and positive outlook on life.  This leads me to many things I love about Austin.  First, we attract such fabulous musicians to our city.  And while sometimes scenes get left behind, the diversity, not to mention the sheer number, of concerts hosted here is remarkable.  Last weekend alone, Jason Mraz, Ray LaMontagne, and Ben Folds all visited our capital city – and those are just the big names!  We have fantastic venues, like Stubb’s, where Mraz laid down his jams.  Stubb’s is great, because it is pretty gigantic (particularly considering it is in the middle of a large city,) and outdoors.  And Friday, Austin weather was absolutely perfect, as it (in my humble opinion) so often is.  It was cool and breezy, perfect for swaying your hips to “Dynamo of Volition,” off Mraz’s new album, “We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.”

Photo by Kate Hawkins.

Jason Mraz taking a step back to take in the crowd at Stubb's in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Kate Hawkins)

I also love the vibe of Austin crowds at concerts.  People sing, dance, and are generally avid fans of whatever group they see.  It’s practically a guarantee that whether I attend a concert with a friend or alone, I will always end up with a few new pals by the end of the night.  And, for hipsterish me, it’s also a joy to have mini music contest showdowns, comparing notes on new up-and-comers or trying to out-name old songs by the musician you are there to see.  (I can foresee this being something others hate, of course.)

I do have to hate on Austin a little bit.  Tragically, not all fans are awesome fans.  This is obviously not an “Austin only” phenomenon, but because Austin hosts so many concerts, poor concert behaviour is a trait that turns up a little too often.  For example, when you are standing in line for two hours, and just as the line starts moving, a giggly group walks up from having just parked their car and sneaks into line with that long-lost “friend” that always seems to be a little more devoted than they are, and jumps in front of you…this is obnoxious.  Apparently, certain concert-goers believe that they are a little more special than the rest of us.  It is NOT acceptable, and I stand in my place thinking about all of the bad karma you are building when you pull these stunts.  Then, there are the yucky fans in the venue.  Tempers rose due to the crowded nature of the show; it was sold out, and Stubb’s has a capacity near 2500 people.  People on the balcony dropped ashes from their cigarettes onto fans below.  And far too many people took themselves far too seriously and did not dance!!  Considering Mraz’s new album continues the words, “We Dance,” this seems a little silly to me.  Indeed, the most obnoxious are the people at shows just to “be seen,” who stand at the back of the venue, alcohol and voices flowing freely and loudly.  At the very least, they keep to themselves in the back, which is a kind of courtesy.  But keep it down, for cripe’s sake!!

Ultimately, though, Austin concerts are wonderful, wonderful experiences.  And even though many fans were too young to recognize Mraz’s Steely Dan cover (consequently making me feel ancient,) the show was an absolute blast, made perfect by my happy memories.  Thank you, Austin, for wonderful music.

-Caitlin