SXSW '09 Intro: En Route to Madness

Destination: Austin

I’m writing this South by Southwest intro from a poolside table at my mother’s crib in Florida. I came here to chill before diving into the hedonistic abyss known as SXSW, but wound up chasing painkillers with Bud bottles and banging on my laptop for three days. video, Twitter alerts, blogs, and the Boston band buzz-o-meter


Del Boca Vista was a solid warm-up for this country’s most outrageous music conference. Saturday night we hit a karaoke club in Delray Beach, where my mom and her husband sing vapid pop songs from the 1950s. While their friends are older than the cats I’ll hang with down in Austin, they, too, like to get hammered, act like jackasses, and fuck in public restrooms.


While I hardly relaxed down here, I did mentally unwind a bit. It started on the flight down, when I refrained from slapping passengers who paid way too much attention to emergency exit directions. My guess is that not so many folks cared after 9/11 or TWA Flight 800, but now that splash landing is all the rage dummies feel the need to be prepared.


I won’t keep you for long (since I haven’t seen shit yet), but every year I vow in these opening remarks to avoid topics that are overplayed and obvious; last year, for example, I promised not to bitch about otherwise politically apathetic puds who traded up their Che Guevara tees for Obama gear.


This year I’ll leave the tight pants commentary right here. Sure, I’m sickened that hip-hop has gone the way of hip-huggers – and SXSW is ground zero for low sperm counts – but I’m out of ways and reasons to complain. Last year I saw a kid who couldn’t even squeeze a pack of Camels in his Levis, and that should be his problem – not mine.


Unfortunately, it’s impossible for me to lay off uber hipsters altogether; if I did there would be no point of hitting Austin in the first place. But I will be nicer since I happen to be rocking an obnoxious pair of candy-colored New Balance, and am hence not exactly in a prime position to lambaste.


Plus – I give overachieving hipsters credit for their casual approach. While I geek out and plot the SXSW experience ahead of time, they just manage to show up at the right places – and on the ill guest lists – without trying.


I’m not that spontaneous; so to ensure that I catch much heat, I’ve organized intense Excel spreadsheets. According to my game plan, coverage will include: Black Joe Lewis, The Crystal Method, N.A.S.A., DJ JayCeeOh, DJ Shadow, Mike Relm, Birds of Tokyo, The Tearjerks, and a whole lot of randomness at showcases where I’ll dig into free food and booze.


Hip-hop heads – I ain’t forgot you; here’s what’s on my radar: K’Naan, Dubb Sicks, Homeboy Sandman, P.O.S., Brother Ali, Big Boi, Mickey Factz, Busdriver, Asher Roth, Common Market, Classified, Blu, The Grouch, Zion I, Mr. Lif, Yak Ballz, Strong Arm Steady, Sage Francis, Camp Lo, Reflection Eternal, and way more than these aging eardrums can handle.


And since we’ll have four reporters on the ground (including my three colleagues who cover things other than the old boom bap), we’ll be checking Boston acts like: the Bladerunners, Amanda Palmer, Street Dogs, Hot Pink DeLorean, Muck and the Mires, and Eileen Rose. The Berklee folks will also be pounding hot concrete, and we’ll be throwing down with them as well.


Which brings me to the most important question of all: why should you care about Phoenix SXSW coverage when most of your friends and tabloid blog go-to dingbats will also be Twittering from Austin for the next four days? To that I have a simple answer: we’re the only ones with exclusive tickets to the Karl Rove skull fucking.  


On a sad Republican note, though – and one that’s Texas-related – I read that Barbara Bush was  just discharged from a Houston hospital and is reported to need three weeks of rest; so I assume that she’ll be missing the IHEARTCOMIX showcase. It’s too bad, really; I heard the old bitch loves to jingle that fat pale ass of hers.


As I pack my bags and wave goodbye to mom, I can’t help but notice all the old pictures of me around her house; me wearing neckties, graduating from prep school, hugging my grandparents, and even wearing Abercrombie hats.


Two years ago I might have second-guessed my career choice; no doubt I could have secured a gig in finance or some other shit that I don’t get. But now that so many folks who went the briefcase route are hooking on the corner just to buy lunch, I’m not so ashamed of the degenerate music writer path that I chose. Austin, here I come.   

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