Films, music, sunshine, margaritas and taco stands; a few of the reasons we returned to Texas for the 2010 South by Southwest festival.
By Whitney Wegner
Today was an unfortunate day in Austin for two reasons. 1) It rained and 2) I became a lone soldier when my fellow comrade, Tara Kumar, returned to Washington, DC. Luckily for me, I met the Greggs, a nice Austin family who agreed to take me in and teach me how to experience South by Southwest like a true Texan.
On the last day of the technology portion of the event, I sat down with Peter Corbett, CEO of iStrategy Labs who led the panel, “Wonky and Geeky DC.” Peter explained that applications providing place and time, a “life map,” are all the rage with this year’s South by Southwest interactive gurus.
I ventured over to the Paramount for a showing of “Harry Brown,” a film produced by “Kick Ass” director, Matthew Vaughn. In the movie, Michael Caine is Harry Brown, an ex-marine trying to solve the problem of violence on the streets of modern day Britain. Director Daniel Barber used vivid images of violence and drugs which made this movie hard to watch, in a good way.
Anticipating the next day’s opening of the music portion of the festival, I went back to my new temporary home and snuggled with the family dog.
Waking up to homemade pancakes and eggs is not a bad way to start the day. I am seriously considering moving back in with my parents after this trip. As the technology gurus vacate Austin and musicians move in there are a few notable changes, such as less talk of Twitter and an increase of flannel shirts. It is also more difficult to decide on a day plan given that there are so many talented acts to see and only one me.
This year, the first day of the music portion of South by Southwest collides with St. Patrick’s Day, a dream for anyone who likes to party. In celebration of the Irish, I began my day at the Guinness party where Broken Records, a seven-man band from Scotland, stole my heart and left me questioning the legality of having seven husbands. Their unique sounds are created with too many instruments to keep count. Even the lead singer, Jamie Sutherland, doesn’t know exactly how many are used and says that they have to minimize the amount because it is becoming a “pain in the…” After watching the Broken Records, my expectations for the rest of the day were set to a really high bar.
The slowly moving line to see Neon Indian at Red 7 was definitely worth the wait. A few technical problems did not stop this Texas band from proving why they are a crowd favorite, keeping everyone dancing, smiling, and wanting more.
Worried that I was not getting enough of the free food and drinks that everyone brags about, I joined the Canadians for the Canadian Blast party where I made up for lost time. Unfortunately, I had to sit through a few unmemorable bands as punishment, but the BBQ made it worth my while.
I kept hearing talk of a local Austin band called Balmorhea, so I went to the Central Presbyterian Church, where they were playing, to check out the scene. Their music is undeniably beautiful and the church was the perfect venue for this instrumental band whose acoustics were complimented perfectly by the high ceilings.
The Walkmen played at Stubb’s and although I was really far away from the stage, I was close enough to know that they were just as good as I dreamed they would be. This New York band sounds the same live as they do recorded but a live performance provided the extra bonus of seeing their upbeat personalities and great sense of style.
After a long day of venturing from one venue to the next, I joined my friends at Baby Blue Studios, home to local Austin band Sunset. We sat around the fire and ate tacos from a truck while local Texas bands serenaded the night away.