For four days 2,000 bands, 13,000 registrants and thousands music fans made up the musical madness that was 2011 SXSW Music Conference, the largest one in its 25-year history.
The scene was electric as most of downtown Austin, especially the epicenter on 6th street, was a constant swarming parade of people and bands marching and hunting for the next show. It felt like we were a part of a non-stop Mardi Gras-esque carnival of live music that flowed in and out of hundreds of venues.
Speed sets and official showcases took place at the Austin Convention Center and in bars such as the legendary Stubb’s and Emo’s, while multiple official showcases were hosted by eager labels and buzz-generating music blogs at venues like The Mohawk, Buffalo Billiards and Bats. And whether you got into those parties or not, as a fan one of best parts of SXSW was stumbling upon the random local and international artists who set up shop on the street corners, in the alleys, and in the middle of 6th Street with hopes of wooing fans as we headed to the next show. You just never knew what would cross your path with each step and passing moment.
Yes, without a doubt, it was a crazy experience in which any music fan would have a blast. And yes, everything you’ve ever heard about it is true: it’s a glorious mixture of musical madness, surprising discovery and unexpected disappointment that grabs you by the heart and takes you on a wild ride until the final show wraps up early Sunday morning. And what about that Super Moon that hung over 6th Street on Saturday night? Well, lets just say that it made things even more epic and weird (which I learned is just how the locals like it).
So what bands, panels and random moments made their mark on us? Too many to share in just one post, but here are the musical performances that we loved the most and highlights from panel discussions that got us thinking about the future of music, the ticket industry and what to do when an artist is addicted.
SXSW Top Shows, Let Downs and Surprises
In our preview I told you we were looking forward to seeing the soul-funk crooner Cee-Lo Green, the man behind the Grammy-nominated-hit track “Fuck You,” and rapper Lupe Fiasco, who recently released his long-awaited new album Lasers. But unfortunately, on Thursday night, both artists canceled their showcases. Which then led to label mates, Janelle Monae, B.o.B and Wiz Kalifa to step in as replacements.