Top 9 SXSW 2012 Moments (because everyone has a top 10)
March Madness in Austin, Texas might have a slightly different meaning. Canvassing 2 weeks every March, South by Southwest (SXSW) is the promised land for musicians and techies waiting to be discovered. As the artists, young and old descended on the city in hopes to move the masses, so did Roxana Shershin. Roxy is a super-fan of all festivals and makes regular pilgrimages to Bonnaroo, SXSW, and Hangout Music Festival like it’s her damn job. I asked her to weigh in on her top experiences and new projects we need to check out. Rox, you are a champ!
SXSW might well go by another acronym, FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. With over 90 venues and 2,000+ bands condensed into 6 days, SXSW’s sheer volume of music choices can be paralyzing. This was my 2nd year at what most refer to simply as “South By”. Despite my best efforts at pre-planning there were many occasions where I realized that the bands I wanted to see were playing simultaneously or worse, 30 minutes apart in venues that seemed to be within sprinting distance – leading me to believe that I could actually make the mad dash across the throngs of people to the next show (I was successful once). That said, the best parts of SXSW weren’t those that were planned but those events that were chanced upon. Where there was no expectation, no buzz, no hype. Just finding those great moments where the music, the performance, the venue and the audience come together. That’s when SXSW is at its best.
My Top 9 SXSW 2012 Moments (because everyone has a top 10)
1. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’S KEYNOTE SPEECH
I hadn’t planned on attending, figuring it would be packed and it would just be your average keynote speech. But Bruce came in prepared with a mission to inspire all the musicians in the audience. And what surprised me most was that he came to share, genuinely share his passion for music with a realness that left me dabbing the corners of my eyes. True to his name, The Boss owned every word and commanded everyone’s attention. [suggestion: start at 9:10]
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’S KEYNOTE SPEECH VIDEO
She’s spunky, she’s talented, she’s what everyone was talking about by the end of SXSW and for good reason.
3. AMERICAN ROYALTY
We happened upon them as our first show and it wasn’t even an official showcase. In a non-air-conditioned bar on the famed Dirty 6th, they served free semi-cold beer and this band rocked it from start to finish.
Our best example of finding the unexpected, we had planned on seeing Alpine several times and kept missing them. Then finally by chance we found them in the Aussie BBQ lineup playing at 12:55p – yes before 1:00. I should note nothing gets going in Austin SXSW before noon… nothing. So seeing this band put on a great live performance in a small venue that ran out of bloody mary’s by 3:00 was a real treat.
5. 2 CHAINZ
Based on the rest of this list you may find this a bit of a surprise. But if you go to SXSW to see all the bands you would normally see then you are missing the entire point. Hands down one of the best performances at the Fader Fort unofficial 4-day party, 2 Chainz killed it. Don’t be surprised if this song gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
She just had 40 minutes for her show but she didn’t care. She came with her tiara-wearing James Brown inspired entrance, her dancers and a couple of guys dressed as a horse.
7. LOWER DENS
I tweeted that it looked like a bunch of SXSW Interactive folks got together and formed a band – admittedly I too attended Interactive. But then Lower Dens started to play and by the end of the festival they were hitting most people’s band-to-watch list.
8. REGENERATION: MUSIC PROJECT [film]
In the middle of all the craziness we ran into an old friend who was at SXSW debuting his film – a documentary about the Grammy’s DJ Music Project where they paired a DJ with a music genre: Skrillex got Rock; Pretty Lights got Country; DJ Premier got Classical; Mark Ronson got Jazz and The Crystal Method got R&B. The film chronicles how each DJ infused their signature style to a genre to create a new and unique sound, in several cases out of their comfort zone. I have a whole new respect for this music form.
9. JAY-Z at the ACL Moody Theater
If you have a chance to either see Jay-Z or see any show at Austin’s ACL Moody Theater, take it. Both are incredible by themselves but combine the two and you concert performance perfection.