Wheels Up for SXSW…

Category: Blog — @ 7:51 pm March 13, 2007

I heard on the news this morning that they’re experiencing flooding in Austin today. Forecast calls for thunderstorms through Thursday, then blue skies for all of you lucky enough to be attending SXSW. Every year The Reader offers me passes to attend the conference, and every year I turn them down due to costs, vacation time from work, etc. Actually, the real reason is that I hate hassles, and SXSW sounds like one enormous clusterfuck of a weekend. Do I really want to deal with running from one venue to the next chasing after the evening’s hot show, hoping that I can get in and once inside, struggling to get a drink? I don’t know, but for some reason, that doesn’t sound like fun. Add to that the fact that most of the bands that I want to see at SXSW have or will eventually make their way to Omaha or Lincoln. There are obviously many, many exceptions, but if they don’t want to come to me, I can live without them.

Nebraska will be well represented again this year, though don’t look to the SXSW site for all the details. Little Brazil will be playing; so will The Terminals and Brimstone Howl, though I can’t find these bands listed anywhere on the SXSW site. Perhaps their performances are “unofficial.”

Official shows include The Show Is the Rainbow March 17 at Redrum, The Faint March 16 at Eternal with Flowers Forever, and Cursive, Art in Manila and Tilly and the Wall March 17 at Beauty Bar as part of the Memphis Industries/Saddle Creek/Team Love showcase. Is the fact that Art in Manila is playing this showcase a foreshadowing that Creek will be handling their new album, Set the Woods on Fire, recorded by The Faint’s Joel Petersen? Time will tell. The real question is why The Faint isn’t included in the Saddle Creek showcase.

So inevitably I’ll ask someone who went to SXSW who they saw, and the response will be something like, “Well, I caught Little Brazil and The Faint on Friday night, then hung out at the Saddle Creek showcase on Saturday night after catching The Show Is the Rainbow that same day.” Why? Why fly a thousand miles, spend god knows how much money on lodging and food just to see the same bands that play here all the time? I asked one guy who did just that last year, and he told me it was interesting to see how well our local bands are received out of town. That’s not a good enough reason.

It’s been written about in hundreds of publications and blogs — SXSW has strayed from its original mission, which was to give unsigned bands a stage to show their wares to all the labels. Every Omaha band that’s taking part this year is already signed to a label, and the ones that should be there that aren’t signed — folks like Matt Whipkey, Sarah Benck, The Stay Awake, The Filter Kings, Artsy Golfer, Shelter Belt, Dance Me Pregnant and on and on, well, they’re stuck back here with us. Something’s wrong with that picture.

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