Una Mullally

Society, life and culture on the edge

SXSW: 15 great things in two days

Things are getting crazy over here in Austin. Gigs are relentless, feet are falling off, the desire for a cloning machine to hit more venues is intense, talks are inspiring, and there have been some brilliant moments. Right now, Dave …

Thu, Mar 14, 2013, 17:39


Things are getting crazy over here in Austin. Gigs are relentless, feet are falling off, the desire for a cloning machine to hit more venues is intense, talks are inspiring, and there have been some brilliant moments. Right now, Dave Grohl is across the road giving his keynote speech, so at the start of day three, here’s a run down of 15 great things that have happened in two days.

1. The news that Prince is playing.
It’s not like SXSW needs any more of a buzz, but throwing Prince into the mix has tipped things over into a purple haze of excitement. Good luck getting a ticket though, just 250 punters will be fighting for space through Samsung Galaxy competitions and lotteries on the website. Tell that to the old school label guy in my hotel this morning though who had two tickets in the bag. Rage!

2. Disruption
The Irish panel on Tuesday morning – Constructive Disruption for the Music Biz – provided the theme of the week; artists taking back power, the industry getting ideas from elsewhere, and how the attitude of tech start ups can be a good direction to look towards for a sometimes rudderless industry.

3. Disclosure
The Hype Hotel – Hype Machine’s vodka and taco-fuelled warehouse – has had a stellar line-up all week and Disclosure rocked the place yesterday. The new enthusiasm for electronic music amongst mainstream fans in the States is at fever pitch right now. Judging by the whoops, hands in the air, the dude waving a record sleeve and a Sharpie begging for it to be signed and crazy dancing says it all. EDM bbz.

4. The high profile public interviews
The convention centre has really upped its game in terms of music panels this year; Nick Cave, Stevie Nicks, Kendrick Lamar and loads more are all doing/have done public interviews, which is a great way to spend an hour.

5. Old school hip hop shit
That’s how DJ Technician kept positioning Ghostface Killah’s set at Mohawk last night. Dennis Coles is 43 in May, so he’s not exactly crazy old school, but the set was a blistering collection of Wu Tang Clan hits and Wu Block tunes. Massively enjoyable.

6. New Yeah Yeah Yeahs tunes
Before Nick Zinner crossed the road to check out Ghostface, he and his bandmates presented a set at NPR’s party in Stubb’s loaded with tracks from Mosquito. The good news? They all sound brilliant. It was the first time the band rolled out ‘Sacrilege’ live too, and it totally rocked. The set also featured ‘Maps’, ‘Gold Lion’, ‘Zero’, ‘Cheated Hearts’ and closed with ‘Heads Will Roll’.

7. Amanda Palmer being amazing
The Anatomy of Amanda Fucking Palmer is one of the best panel discussions I’ve ever seen, an inspirational insight into a dedicated DIY artist, which concluded with a tune on her ukelele.

8. Irish acts punching far above their weight
Austin is heavy with buzzing Irish names this week; Kodaline, Girls Names, Delorentos, Little Green Cars, Squarehead, Kid Karate, Kool Thing to name a few. At the Irish showcase last night Kid Karate demonstrated how they’ve come on leaps, bounds and yelps, and Delorentos threw off more than their fair share of little sparks.

9. Ridiculous food
Mac n cheese hotdogs, bacon chocolate chip cookies, chorizo fries, bacon jam fries, fish tacos? Yes please. Austin’s food trucks are really outdoing themselves.

10. Hundred Waters
One of the best sets of the past 48 hours, a beautifully complex, intricate and completely unique clutch of tunes from this brilliant Florida band. Check them out.

11. The weather
Austin suffered a cold week last week, and thunderstorms at the weekend, but this week it’s all balmy in the 20s making trekking around the streets a complete pleasure.

12. Artists revealing themselves
Deadmau5 and Richie Hawtin’s talk was interesting for loads of nerdy reasons, mainly their endearing overly technical manner with which they discussed their recording processes, but it was Deadmau5′s arrogance and the astoundingly dismissive manner with which he referred to his fans as “yo bros” that stuck out. I mean, come on dude, without those yo bros you’d be nowhere.

13. What? They’re playing?
Sometimes it feels as though you completely forget acts that have been announced or organisers just chuck them into the mix for the lolz. This especially goes for the big guns, and aside from Dave Grohl’s supergroup, Nick Cave and Prince – Justin Timberlake, Depeche Mode and Green Day are all gigging over the weekend.

14. Swag
Pay attention and you could eat and drink for free all week as well as go home with a bunch of t-shirts, bags, shades and trainers. At a less liggy level, it’s nice to get a free beer once in a while.

15. It is, really, all about the music
You can have all the lofty conversations about labels, tech and the future you want, but ultimately everyone just wants to know who you saw that was good. When you take everything else away, it’s just about the tunes.