This is my first trip to SXSW, and as daunted as I was in advance by who to see, where to go, and how to get there, so far there has been a more frequent question that I didn’t anticipate having to ask: Who the hell is this playing in front of me right now? Unless you’ve seen the band before or heard them say their name (both rarities), chances are you’ll be guessing based on a lineup that may or may not be still in place, or walking up to the artist themselves afterward with the flattering query, “Who are you?”
But on Wednesday night, the locals had Austin Music Hall.
“South By Southwest is the ultimate middle-finger to the recession!” I’m paraphrasing Shilpa Ray, who gabbed this bit of wisdom between songs during the first of her eponymous four-piece band’s sets at the festival on Wednesday night. And sure, a fiddling-while-Rome-burns perspective (and of course I’m sure, somewhere this week, there literally is fiddling) on this iteration of the yearly throw-down isn’t too tough to swallow: tens of thousands of people—industry rats, artists, critics, pilgrims, townies—blowing money on bands and beer and bbq, instead of burying their cash in the backyard. Yet while I myself have certainly blown way more dough already that I planned to over the first four days, my most frequent transactions at South By Southwest (and the most rewarding ones, too) aren’t necessarily of the economic variety.
Over the next four days, we'll have a team of six music writers—Jason Crock, Grayson Currin, Eric Harvey, Marc Masters, Kelly Reid and Paul Thompson—canvassing Austin, Texas, during this year's annual media-and-music mayhem, South by Southwest. We'll be writing about a strong group of nearly two dozen local acts in Austin this week (from The Rosebuds, Megafaun and The Love Language to Chip Robinson, Terry Anderson and Roman Candle) and many of the several thousand national and international bands crowded down near Red River District and beyond. We'll have daily updates from all the writers, as well as quick takes and tidbits throughout each day. Hit the jump for writer bios and stay tuned.