Aside from the gathering of industry professionals, artists, and media, SXSW has been a magnet for music fans, largely due to the influx, and exponential growth of free day party events. With many artists playing as many as half dozen or more showcases, the average music fan has countless opportunities to see their artist of choice. In a vicious cycle, the growing base of music fans inspires more events, which in turn attracts more people to Austin. So while the industry continues to genuflect over big picture issues, while fuming over the ongoing disappearance of revenue streams, day parties provide an informal opportunity for fans to interact with some of their favorite artists, while enjoying swag, booze, and treats courtesy of corporate and media sponsors, national music industry councils and labels. Here’s a sampling of some of the best day party events:
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All right, readers. It’s confession time. Before I get into my latest coverage of SXSW, I have a secret I need to share. I would prefer to keep it to myself, as I have for a few years now, but I feel it’s necessary to reveal for the purposes of this article. If any of you stop reading and click over to Faith’s unbiased (and, let’s be honest, probably better) coverage, I completely understand. Wow. This isn’t easy. I’ve only told a few close friends, and they were less than understanding. Okay. Here goes nothing:
I’m writing this from the Skillshare party in the casual backyard of a bar. Twenty or so people in t-shirts and shorts, festooned with badges and pins, listen while a bearded Etsy employee scribbles about start-ups on a sticky pad. Beyond the bar area with a gaggle of drinkers conversing, another such session is in full swing. This isn’t part of the official conference; it’s just one of many events spinning off on interactivity and using learning as a social tool.
The official SXSW interactive conference is the epicenter of learning about interactive anything for five days a year. This year more than 2,600 official presenters flooded the four floors of the Austin convention center, ranging from Arrested Development‘s Jeffrey Tambor to the head of MIT’s Media Lab to the CTO of a three-person three-month-old startup.
When you think of SXSW, humor is probably not one of the first things that comes to mind. But with the opening keynote given by The Onion’s Baratunde Thurston and speakers like Rainn Wilson of The Office , the comedy quotient was pretty high. Of course, being a lecture setting, these men who are at the forefront of creating culture didn’t just yuk it up.
Baratunde Thurston kicked off with a description of His family background and his own childhood. Of his years growing up in the projects, he said, ”We had everything The Wire had except universal critical acclaim and the undying love of the white people who saw it”. He wove his own history in with the story of the Internet, the cacophony of voices that determine our narratives, and the need for humor to break through.
Delta Spirit headlined the Conflict Of Interest showcase with a late night set at The Hype Hotel Tuesday, 13 March. The California five-piece stormed the stage at 1AM and played an energetic 45 minute set, spurring explosive energy amongst badge and wristband holders. Drinks flew and fists pumped as Delta Spirit rocked out old favorites mixed with new cuts off their brand new, self-titled album coincidentally released the same day.
They tore up the stage with the romantic “Bushwick Blues” and raised hell with the anthematic “People C’Mon”. Thanks to an enthusiastic audience, Texas humidity and Delta Spirit’s heart-wrenching poetic finesse, I left The Hype Hotel one blissed out hot and happy mess.