I'm beginning to wonder if SXSW happens exclusively now so that people can take pictures of it. I'm guessing there's one shutterbug for every five attendees who aren't professional photographers—at least. Many of these photographers seem to be veterans of the biz and they prove it by insisting on obfuscating everyone else's experience with their large, protruding equipment—the larger the equipment the more important they are obviously.
I've been to a few festivals in my time and I've never seen so many photographers and they've never been so unrelentingly rude. It'd be nice if all of the venues instituted the very common "three songs in front of the barricade and then leave so everyone else can have a nice time without your flash" rule, but not every venue even has a barricade. If you're shooting the festival, be cool, dude. I get it. You're competing with seven million other photogs for that perfect shot, but there's more (much more) to the event than your pictures.
Now that I've gotten that off of my chest, we may proceed. I'd like to tell you about every band that I saw yesterday, but I don't even know if that's possible. Now that's not only because of the never-ending stream of free booze, but also because everywhere you go, no matter what kind of place it is, there's probably a band playing.
A fine dining establishment? Band playing. By a dumpster in an alley? Band playing. The bottom of Lady Bird Lake? Band playing.
It's almost refreshing to find a place without a band playing, but that's not really the point. All of that being said, I will share the highlights.
First of all, Chi'lantro's Korean BBQ tacos are worth the wait in line, but I guess I should focus on music for now.
Having finally found out how to work the system in some capacity, I wound up inside the nearly packed to the brim Stubb's BBQ just in time to see Courtney Barnett, who I've heard equated to a female Kurt Cobain. It kind of makes sense, too, with her occasionally snarling, grungy vocals.
The person smushed up behind me in the crowd asked his friend if the next performer, Stromae, was any good.
"Well, if they play after that and right before TV On The Radio, they must be," the friend said.
While that logic doesn't always pan out, it definitely did this time. The Belgian singer-songwriter blended hip hop and electronic music beautifully—he sings in French. His energy was infectious, and, by the end of the show, he had absolutely everyone screaming for one more. I have a hard time believing I will like any performance more than his, but I am totally open to that not being the case.
Although my cell phone video is pretty terrible, the point is that Stromae's music is only rivaled by his sweet dance moves. Check them out. He was doing this sort of thing the whole time, aside from the brief moment he took time to speak about how French fries are a total misnomer and that we should call them Belgian fries—a man after my own heart.
As I said before, TV On The Radio came up after Stromae at the NPR Music showcase. It's fair to say I don't think I've ever danced so frenetically in my life. The only vivid memory I have of the performance is a barrage of strobe light and pounding, pulsing guitar and drums during "Wolf Like Me." If you could get seasick from a concert, this would likely be the place as the whole crowd was jumping and swaying in unison.
Getting back to my original point, which was "Pace Yourself," if you find yourself at the festival this year or in the future, be sure to drink as much $4 water as you do free booze and also realize that you're never ever ever going to be able to see everything you want. Sacrifices have to be made. The struggle is real.
Stay tuned tomorrow for TW Goes SXSW: Day 3, which might be titled something like "Ouch, My Liver."