South By Southwest is far, far more than just another music festival. It is its own self-contained planet, a virtual warzone of cred-wanting music journalists, cred-wanting publicists, cred-wanting industry knobs, cred-wanting band managers, and cred-wanting doormen who won't even fart in your general direction unless you have a fabled badge. Oh, and there are bands, too. Quite a few, in fact, if you can manage to get to every venue five hours early, lest you get shut out of the Ratatat/M.I.A. show like I did a few years back. But seeing as SXSW changed my life, I owe it an infomercial-style endorsement:
My South By Southwest Testimonial: I was a neurotic, insecure twenty-something. I was 112 pounds overweight, obsessed with Get Smart, and I washed my dishes in the bathtub. Then I went to SXSW and everything changed for me. I lost weight, re-connected with God, and became the svelt, well-to-do bloke you see here today. Now I run a highly successful internet business, own my own boat (wanna see it?), and hob-knob with only the biggest celebrities (as opposed to Tucker Max). I managed to make these changes in my life thanks to South By Southwest's five-day music program.
And it's so simple! A light band for breakfast, two bands for lunch, then for dinner I watch as many bands as I want! I was shocked by how fast the weight melted off my naturally slight frame. I was, in fact, so excited I didn't have time to take in all the sights and sounds. For example, I left a Wrens show to catch Hella down the street. I ran-ran-ran as fast as I could and before I knew what was happening I passed David Fricke -- no shit! But I was so intent on seeing Hella I just yelled "David Fricke!" and kept running! He turned around and smiled and went on his way, but I'm pretty sure he could feel the force flowing through me. Deep-down he knew that once I'd built up my strength for another decade or so we'd meet again, matching pens for a Reviewer's Battle to the Death, the winner taking the spoils: A promo copy of Neil Young's Are You Passionate? and ownership of Under Byen's soul.
But that's another story/novel/five-part TV miniseries. We're talking South By Southwest! Now that I've imparted what the festival means to me I'll get into the details. For one, the music portion of the fest takes place from March 14-18 in downtown Austin, Texas. The band list? Not yet. Don't forget that there's a huge Film portion of the event as well. (band list?) NO! And there's also the Trade Show Exhibition and an endless string of panel discussions, mentor sessions, interviews, band lists and... erp, damn. Ahh fuck it, time for the band list! As usual, it's a nickel-plated doozy, oozing with name-drop goodness you couldn't find if you poked a pudgy blogger's bum with a p4k. Below is a short-list of bands slated to perform (including world-renouned superstar Kenna). And by ‘short list' I mean the Longest List Known to Man, Ever:
Aesop Rock, Against Me!, Akimbo, Allison, An Albatross, The Apples in Stereo, Aqualung, Architecture in Helsinki, Austin TV, The Automatic, Kevin Ayers, Badly Drawn Boy, Balkan Beat Box, Bayside, Beach House, Beirut, The Besnard Lakes, Andrew Bird, The Bird and the Bee, Martina Topley, Birdmonster, Black Lips, Bloc Party, Blonde Redhead, The Blood Arm, Bonde do, The Bravery, Vashti Bunyan, Tracy Byrd, Charalambides, Child Abuse, Chingo Bling, Chingon, The Cinematics, Citay, Jill Cunniff, DATAROCK, Deerhunter, Delorentos, Dengue Fever, Errors, The Faint, Ferraby Lionheart, Field Music, The Fratellis, Fujiya & Miyagi, Galactic, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Ghostland Observatory (Austin TX), Girl Talk, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, Albert Hammond, Jr, Kate Havnevik, The High Dials, The Holloways, Hoodoo Gurus, The Horrors, Hot Club De Paris, Benji Hughes, iLiKETRAiNS, IV Thieves, Jack O and The Tearjerkers, Jack's, Georgie James, Jamie T, Jandek, Joan as Police Woman, Daniel Johnston and the Nightmares, Junior Senior, KENNA, Keith Killgo Jazz, Kings of Leon, Kinski, K'NAAN, Tracy Lawrence, Les Claypool/Electric Apricot, Les Savy Fav, Lethal Bizzle, Lily Allen, Little Barrie, Little Man Tate, The Little Ones, LoneLady, Lonely China Day, The Long Winters, Charlie Louvin, Barbara Lynn, Magik Markers, Malajube, Mando Diao, Maneja Beto, Jo Mango, Maps & Atlases, Willy Mason, Mastodon, Matt & Kim, Nellie McKay, Meat Puppets, Metro Riots, Mexican Institute of Sound, Mika, Mogwai, Money Mark, Money Waters, Thurston Moore, James Morrison, The Mountain Goats, Muck and the Mires, Alexi Murdoch, MuteMath, MV/EE and The Bummer Road, Johnette Napolitano, The 1900s, Paolo Nutini, The Octopus Project, Okkervil River, 120 Days, Oppenheimer, Ozomatli, The Panda Band, Graham Parker, Peaches, Pelican, Elvis Perkins, Peter and the Wolf, The Pipettes, The Polyphonic Spree, The Ponys, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Priestess, Prisonshake, Psychedelic Horseshit, Quetzal, Qui w/ David Yow, Ra Ra Riot, Razorlight, Jay Reatard, Reigning Sound, Gruff Rhys, Rickie Lee Jones, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Sam the Sham, Satellite Party, Secondhand Serenade, Ron Sexsmith, Shout Out Out Out Out, The Shys, Sloan, Alice Smith, Soweto, SSM, The Stooges, The Sunshine Underground, Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hearafter, Tally Hall, This Moment In Black History, Pam Tillis, Times New Viking, Tiny Masters of Today, Tokyo Police Club, The Tragically Hip, Turbonegro, TURZI, Under, Valient Thorr, Chad VanGaalen, The View, Viva Voce, The Walkmen, The Watson, Mary Weiss, Willowz, Amy Winehouse, WinterKids, The WOMBATS, Wooden Shjips, The Young Knives, Young Love, and Youth Group. This list is subject to change.
For a more complete list of life-changing (and waist-cinching!) acts, check out SXSW's official website.