An Arm For a Leg At SXSW? Sort Of

by John Davidson

22 March 2010

Demand for access to artists and their SXSW playground seems to have reached an all-time high.

What was the going rate for an all-access artists wristband at SXSW?  A couple of hundred bucks, maybe? Four hundred dollars—the going rate on Craigslist Austin at the beginning of the week? Or, how about this: one wristband in exchange for performing emergency root-canal surgery? It was, perhaps, the last fair deal to have gone down in Austin.

Photos by John Davidson

Photos by John Davidson

Chicago-based songstress Via Tania arrived in Austin on the first day of the festival having just returned to the U.S. from her homeland, Australia. In the midst of her travels,  a troublesome toothache became something more excruciating. With a schedule of six shows over three days promoting her new album, Moon Sweet Moon, and an increasingly painful jaw, Tania surrendered to the inevitable necessity of dental surgery. “I went online and started out looking on Yelp,” she said. “I found this one guy, the only thing he does is root-canals. I explained that I was performing at SXSW, so they let me come to the surgery the same day. My credit card is just about max-ed out, so I was already trying to figure out how I was going to pay for the root canal. Then the receptionist asked about my wristband…”. Initially the dentist wanted two wristbands prior to loading the Novocain. “I told him that the one on my arm was the only one I had - which was totally true. Luckily he went for it. Usually he charges a thousand dollars per surgery”.

A couple of hours later Tania was enjoying a beef fajita salad prior to a photo shoot—but not before her publicist had to meet her outside the press tent and escort her through security. Gaining access to her own shows, one would imagine, was less of a problem.

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