So, my trip down to Austin last week yielded some mixed results. On one hand, it had its spontaneous moments, but they were moments around frustrating roadblocks. If you'd like to read some thorough wrap-up stories of the big shows and surprises, start here and here. For my own perspective of eight hours of South by Southwest (with the good and not-so-good), read on.
-The ride down was nice: cloudy, warm and pretty peaceful. Getting word that the free parking lot under 35 was already full at 11am: not-so-good.
-I hoped I would park in the same place I did last year (a tall parking garage with a $7 fee, good until 2am, only a block away from 6th Street). However, by noon it was already full. So I parked a few blocks south of there for $10. The catch was, as the parking attendant told me in broken English: "good for only eight hours."
-So I meet up with some friends who don't live in Texas and proceed to meet some more people and enjoy some free Tex-Mex. I realize in one of these conversations that while I don't claim to be a big fan of Third Eye Blind's music, I happen to know a lot about their career.
-At this first stop was the first handing off of a galley copy of POST. It would be the first of three copies to be given to friends of mine who wanted to read it and who I trust their opinions. Paper-wise, that meant I was now carrying 469 pages in my sidebag. It would be a long time before I'd be completely paper-less.
-During my wandering around Emo's, I catch three acts: Ladyfinger (NE), the Constantines and Ra-Ra Riot. I thought Ra-Ra Riot was great, but didn't think much of the other acts. These would be the only bands I would catch all day.
-Prior to Ra-Ra Riot's set, I got word that the drummer for Tokyo Police Club would do some stand-up material. Reminded of a certain local show I saw last year where I believe I saw my first comic "bomb," I wondered if the same would happen. Not so, but the jokes were punctuated by chuckles and silence. No boo's or loud talking though.
-While trying to kill some time before a private party at 4, I walked up and down 6th, 5th and 4th Street. There was something peaceful about it: not a lot commotion on the other streets and not a lot of people. Plus, there was plenty of shade and wind. A nice respite.
-Reaching the party before doors opened, I'm introduced to a guy from San Diego and proceed to have one of those fun conversations about my book. Meaning, when I tell people more about the book, they light up and share with me lots of pleasant memories of seeing At the Drive-In, the Get Up Kids and so on back in the day. Frankly, I always enjoy these conversations. I look forward to more of them.
-While at this party, I get to catch up with even more friends I hadn't seen in a while. However, those conversations ended when the DJs decided that with more people, the music had to be even louder. Yes, I know music is great background, but it's nice when you can hear the person you're talking to.
-My pass said there was an open bar, but I didn't put two and two together that all the alcoholic drinks were free until later. Maybe it's because the only open bar events I've been to were wedding receptions where they had just wine and beer. Seeing all those Jack-and-Cokes and vodka-and-cranberries and the only money changing hands went into the tip jars, I decided to stick with water as the heat was making things a little tough to handle. Plus, I was looking at three-hour car ride in only a few hours.
-Passing out the other two galleys, I ran into none other than Justin Wilson, the man who graces POST's cover. He was very pleased to see it. I also realized that three years ago at SxSW, I was excited to meet Aaron Burgess in person. His name might not be as known as Klosterman, Azerrad or McNeil, but his writing has always been a big influence on me. Getting to know him as a trusted friend in those years since, I thought matters came full circle as I gave him a copy of my book. A pretty big moment for me, to say the least.
-Unlike last year, I didn't get a big goody-bag filled with all sorts of swag. Because I skipped out on the free drinks as well, I made a deal that I'd hit up some Dairy Queen in some small town and have an M&M Blizzard. I found a relatively new (and very posh) DQ in a town just south of Waco. A nice way of sending me back.
-After listening to Trever Keith's solo record twice, I got home and proceed to watch the new episode of LOST. Unfortunately, I missed the last ten minutes due to forgetting exactly how much time was left on my tape. Catching the whole episode in HD online the following morning (with limited commercial interruption) was nice.
So, that was my SxSW. I give major props to those who could stomach the 13-16 hours a day of it for multiple days in a row.