Sunday after SXSW is time to repent. It’s a day to confront questionable decisions—and you made some—and consider the bands missed, the drinks accepted, the morning bb-q indulged. You ask yourself what it all meant and there’s no good answer, there never is. Then you remember your favorite acts: Sharon Van Etten, Austra, Veronica Falls, An Horse, and you appreciate the magnetism of terrific, talented musicians. It’s a basic need.
You still have to overcome some guilt when you look at decent Austin residents who’ve been rampaged by people asking where they can buy The New York Times or charge their phones. You hear stories from the comely staff at the San Jose about serving drinks for 7 straight hours, confided without a trace of self pity. Others took a more direct approach—one large sign on the side of a bar (which is nominally in the hospitality industry) read: ‘Thank you/Go home.’
The day after, away from the fray, you have time to cross the highway and get a proper cocktail at East Side Showroom, certainly the only joint in Austin showing a Buster Keaton silent and not the NCAA tournament. Pisco Sour? Corpse Reviver No. 2? Something more intuitive? No problem, these people know what they’re doing.
Your ears are still ringing, but there’s another band playing in a place you thought you were safe from aural onslaught. Then a strange thing happens. That band sounds great and you join the small crowd. There are no wristbands, there’s no VIP section, no bouncer, no industry hacks. Just people standing in sun because the three-piece band is good. Half the crowd didn’t know the name of the band, and somehow it was better that way.