[Cue the grumpy old man rant...]
Today was a less-than-satisfying attempt to venture into the music side of South by Southwest. The plan, hatched several days ago, was to catch the Shins’ free show at Auditorium Shores at 8:00, then head to the gutted remains of Spaghetti Warehouse at 10:00 to see Girl Talk.
A note on Girl Talk and the overall trend of making people jump through hoops in order to get to see shows. Maybe offering vague hints of a show’s location (or even very existence) is an effective way to generate buzz and get some people to wander downtown Austin and/or the internet doing whatever it takes to get to the show, but that ain’t me. Maybe I’m just grumpy and old, but I prefer to look up a show’s date and time, purchase a ticket if necessary, and go to an entrance of some sort in order to enter a venue and watch a show. That’s how most of the world works, but SXSW sometimes does it different.
But I’ll get back to that.
As for the Shins, they’re a pretty good band. I get them confused with the Strokes for two reasons: (1) their names are both “The ***” names beginning with “S” and (2) I am out of touch with music. The main observation I can make about the show is that the stage, set up against the backdrop of Lady Bird Lake and downtown Austin, reminded me of the Austin City Limits studio stage, except that this backdrop was real. We wandered the park in search of a good spot to both see and hear the show, eventually concluding that there was no available spot where we could do both. The best sound, in my opinion, was actually on the walkway of the 1st Street bridge, where we couldn’t see anything.
Anyway, the Girl Talk show was part of a Nike/VEVO event promoting a new doodad that Nike rolled out this week. Getting on the RSVP list involved tweeting something to VEVO and getting a password to a website. They never got back to me with the password, but then someone tweeted the password and it showed up on Facebook. The line to get into the former Spaghetti Warehouse was long–not as long as some lines I’ve seen, but pretty damn long. A volunteer told us that the venue only holds 500 people, that there were 100 VIP’s that would get in no matter what, and that over 7,000 people had RSVP’d. Another volunteer told us that if we did not receive an e-mail in response to our RSVP with the subject line “Awesomeness,” then we were not on the list.
Guess who didn’t get such an e-mail?
At any rate, I didn’t really want to support Nike anyway, because of reasons.
That left us wandering downtown Austin with no wristbands and no particular idea of what else was going on, and then my phone battery died because I left the camera feature running for too long. Nothing seemed to be going on outdoors, so we went home.
I remember Thursday night of last year’s SXSW being much more active, in terms of people being out and music going on in accessible places. Last year, the Thursday of SXSW week was St. Patrick’s Day, which I’m sure had much to do with the activity. This year, it just seemed like nearly everything was behind one barrier to access or another, except for Auditorium Shores. Again, though, maybe I’m just getting older and grumpier.