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Ode to the Road: South by SouthWest

by V (writer), Venice!, March 26, 2007

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Every day, somewhere in the world, someone is saying goodbye to someone they love as they head out on the road to tour. Sometimes for weeks, sometimes for months, the adrenalin of doing what you love – performing before the masses – is quelled by the low of leaving behind the ones you love and the comforts of home.

Some are born to tour and love the enabling lifestyle of rock n’ roll – especially when they’re young and especially when it’s all new and especially when they have addictions - but for some, the novelty wears off all too quickly and each hotel room, each town, each after party, each groupie all starts to feel the same.

If you’re one of the lucky ones – a musician who is making enough money to have your loved ones join you from time to time on the road - it will be something you have learned to value after having paid your dues in anonymous hotel rooms and sweaty, stinky, beer-marijuana-coke-addled tour buses. Many such buses and airplanes carried such souls (both of the afore-mentioned kind and the latter) as they descended upon Austin, Texas, March 9th – 18th. Austin airport was a who’s who of the music world and the excitement was palpable.

The dust has just settled here in L.A. and around the globe. Advil has addressed many of the post SXSW problems just in the nick of time for Coachella. And, for those of you who didn’t even know that the dust was kicked up or what SXSW is, let me explain.

South by Southwest is a prestigious, global music & media conference held annually in Austin, Texas, drastically boosting the local population for that week with more than 150 panels, 200 films and 1,400 music acts at some 67 venues across the city. From all across the globe, every music company executive, A&R, music publishing, film-placement and music personality giant etc. is present for the greatest industry show on earth.

From every corner of the globe, bands apply and reapply, year in, year out in the hope of bringing their talents before efficiently assembled, industry greats. Notoriously dubbed, ‘South by SouthWasted,’ SXSW is where anyone who is anyone in music endeavors to show up, shop for new bands (and in more recent years other genres of talent), familiarize themselves with new music product, network, show off their talents and, to be perfectly honest, catch up with peers and associates not seen for long periods of time and get wasted.

There is an official schedule, including workshops, forums, panels and band performances, but the most sought after tickets are for the ‘off-schedule’ parties - independent showcases in themselves - but in a less formal, more ambient environment (lubricated of course by alcohol sponsorship). Attendees seek out the best ‘off-site’ parties to attend, in the hope that they are discovering ‘new talent’ before anyone else.

Bands playing South by South West often book tours around the event in order to take advantage of their temporary location. When they arrive in Austin, many bands have already covered thousands of miles, played dozens of gigs across America and have thousands more miles to go.

In a sea of music makers and music lovers, to the hottest soundtrack of the year, contact books are filled, mountains of business cards exchanged, deals are made, too many drugs consumed, promises are bandied about, dreams fulfilled, sloppy, unprotected sex is had in hotel rooms and alleyways, hopes are dashed and hearts are broken. And all the while, hangovers are worked through with a couple of Bloody Maries.

South by South West 2007 picks …

From NYC: http://themooneysuzuki.com/

From Brooklyn: http://www.myspace.com/pela

Also from Brooklyn: http://www.myspace.com/vietnamtheband

From Los Angeles: http://myspace.com/mattellisband

From Los Angeles via the South: http://www.myspace.com/restaurantmusic

For your heavy hearts in the lonely times, shame when you’ve woken after a night of too much drinking and bad deeds done, for the weightlessness you’ve felt in the roar of the crowd, for all those moments you’ve shined on stage or gazed out the window of a tour bus to another place that is looking exactly like the last, I am grateful. May it mean more material for more music. Yes please, more music! Mr. Tim Rogers of Australian band, ‘You Am I’ gave us this beautiful song as a result of too much time on the road … take it away Tim and thank you!

Been watching so much TV
I'm thinner than I should be
I'm like a waterlogged ball
That no-one wants to kick around anymore
An all day morning hair-do
That no comb can get through
It's all granola and beer
A calling card and a silk cut souvenir
I miss you like sleep
And there's nothing romantic about the hours I keep
The morning's when it starts
I don't look so sharp
Now I got a heavy heart

I talk a lot about football
And girls I kissed in Grade 4
I piss off my friends
I'm digging a hole just staring at the floor
Now every t-shirt's got a wine stain
I'm loving cigarettes again
I know every tune about guys and girls
and hurts and hearts and moans

I miss you like sleep
And there's nothing romantic about the hours I keep
The morning's when it starts
I don't look so good
Now I've got a heavy heart

It's just a low rent paying, palpitating pulp inside my shirt
But there's a weight that's sitting
So hard oh God it hurts
Oh God it hurts

Been watching so much TV
I'm thinner than I should be
I'm like a waterlogged ball
That no-one wants to kick around anymore

I miss you like sleep
And there's nothing romantic about the hours I keep
It’s the mornings when it starts
Oh my heavy heart

Photo: The Mooney Suzuki by Timothy Norris


About the Writer

V is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on Ode to the Road: South by SouthWest

Log In To Vote   Score: 3
By V on March 26, 2007 at 07:37 pm
Hey Reza ... you might not have heard of it as it's an industry conference rather than a music festival. It's not open to the public. Having said that however, a lot of die hard music fans know they can descend upon Austin for that week and see most everyone if they knock around local bars and also know that there are endless, excellent off-site parties that act as independent showcases that they can get into to see some hot bands. It's fun. And messy.
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Log In To Vote   Score: 3
By V on March 26, 2007 at 07:40 pm
Oh and you & El G should hit up the Telluride Bluegrass Festival June 21 - 24 in Colorado.
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Log In To Vote   Score: 3
By Steven Lane on March 26, 2007 at 09:31 pm
It's a great film festival. Welcome back V
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