Monday, March 17, 2014

SXSW 2014 Media Coverage Recap

Today it was announced that a third victim had died from the terrible crash on the streets of Austin, during this year's SXSW festival.  Pitchfork posted how there are still seven people in the hospital and a new foundation SXSW Cares taking donations for those affected by the tragedy, along with an urgent need for blood donations by The Blood Center of Central Texas. The drunk driver was even a musician, looking for a break of his own.  Mowing down people with a car wasn't originally part of the plan -- neither was the moment of silence at many of the clubs the following night.

Jason Bentley remarked from his post back at KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" that SXSW had clearly gotten out of hand. He said it was now "hard to have a quality experience" with the overcrowding and corporate brand invasion. We were in Austin last fall for the Austin City Limits Music Festival and it was obvious that the city knows how to deal with lots of festival-goers and goings-on.  But something has clearly gone too far with this annual spring rite of passage for many a young band.

Other media reports echoed this sentiment.  The Los Angles Times even reported, "Here's to bad times, colored vomit [referencing Lady Gaga's stage antics] and off-years." On the other coast, The New York Times' article on the event was headlined "Big Money UpEnds A Festival." Yet the thorough slideshows via The Washington Post or NPR Music shows the usual glamour shots of bands on stage and adoring fans reaching for them, both big names and unknowns.  And you can even check out some of the wacky festival fashions over at Noisey. Plus there still was new music being discovered.  SPIN named the five best things they saw at SXSW (Erykah Badu, the Coathangers, Protomartyr, the Wytches and Drenge) while Rolling Stone expanded the list to 48 in order to include the awesome local food truck culture (as well as bands such as KELIS, St. Vincent, Parquet Courts, Damon Albarn, Gary Numan from the 80s and Soundgarden from the 90s and yes, Lady Gaga).

While Neil Young's Pono system project (as announced during the festival, listen to him explain it on NPR here) to allow people to hear the music at the same quality at which it was recorded is all well and good, I still say a favorite song is a favorite song, no matter what kind of speaker it comes through or even when played live. It's about the connection from fan to band, that unspoken truth that rocks your own personal world -- not the corporate sponsors or drunk drivers wrecking havoc. Maybe that's where the focus needs to be at SXSW in the future.