South by Southwest is commercial, chaotic, concentrated. It’s also elemental, extraordinary and the most essential week in American music. In the last few years we saw bands from Au Revoir Simone to Andrew Bird, Beach House to Midlake. Not in a field with 100,000 stoners or the echo chamber of Madison Square Garden, but in clubs where you’re 50 feet away from Warpaint or School of Seven Bells. At this late date you’re not getting a room at the Hotel San Jose, but you can still road trip to Austin and crash on the couch of your friend who’s still working on their thesis at U of T. Then head to Marfa check in at the Thunderbird Motel and you’re feeling pretty smart indeed. Don’t worry about tickets, there are free concerts all day, everyday and light beer for everyone.
Every concert needs its audience, so get thee to Austin.
Comments on “Road Trip in Waiting: The Case for SXSW”
Damn, you nailed it. As I sit in my office at UT finishing my chemistry PhD. (one more year. fingers crossed) I am reading this and getting excited for next week when my friends arrive and I can escape from my lab to enjoy the free music and beer.
Light beer? maybe just diet and drink the real stuff?
Been dying to make it to SXSW these past few years, but just never works out. Although I’ve yet to make it to Austin, I’m really disappointed I won’t be there this year with all the amazing build-up and buzz for a lot of my favorite artists/bands. Those who go, enjoy yourselves. From all the accounts I’ve been given, Michael hit the bullseye in setting the scene. Just don’t forget the good eats too. Plenty of ridiculous eateries to try…so I’ve seen on Diners, Drive In, and Dives.
…and for anyone into indie rock, one of my kids will be there, playing drums with the Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
@Steve The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart put out one of my favorite records of 2009.
And I’ll be there. And I actually am road tripping out from LA. This will be my 3rd year going.
Steve – your kid is in Pains of Being Pure at Heart? Awesome!
They played a great show at the P4K Festival in Chicago a couple summers back.
If you’re driving around Texas, you owe it to yourself to visit Archer City also. It has a lot of the same charms that Marfa does, the film ‘The Last Picture Show’ was filmed there.
sorry to get off topic, but for anyone who like the pains…they’ll be on the letterman show march 22
@Steve 1. Being proud your kid is in a band is awesome 2. The fact that the band is the Pains makes it easy to be proud 3. The new stuff Flood did sounds great and I’m sure your kid has a Top 10 of the year record about to come out.
As far as SXSW I haven’t been since 2000 when a band I managed for years got a record deal a week after playing to labels there. By the end of the year the band broke up. Bad memories- but one day I’ll make it back for fun. Seems the vibe has changed to more fun and less trying to get a record deal- I could be wrong.
I was young and stupid once, no I’m youn and know better but to old for the couch!
I pity the fool who drives over 7 hours (each way) to fuck around in a run-down town like Marfa. There’s plenty of that stuff closer to Austin than Marfa is.
Don’t forget you are in Texas. To drive from Archer City to Marfa is almost 500 miles. If you’re going to SX, stick to Austin. Marfa is fantastic, make it another trip.
If you make it to Marfa, you should also stay a night here, in Marathon:
What’s with the Marfa reference? Anyone coming to Austin for Sx isn’t going to make that ridiculous drive to old West Texas.
But if you do… The locals appreciate you visiting and leaving. Too many people plant themsleves here.
Coggins has made that ridiculous drive on more than one occasion.
I’m leaving WED for SXSW. Can’t wait for some migas and breakfast tacos. Why can’t we get breakfast tacos in Brooklyn? And congrats to your kid in TPOBPAH. INDIE ROCK! YAY!
Great pix. Be sure to look up “The 4 on the Floor”. A Minnesota band with a Black Keys/ The Doors vibe and more power and facial hair than any other band you will see while you’re in Austin
Marfa can stand on its own for a trip. No need to lump it in with Austin just b/c it seems the hip thing to do. Suggesting a drive to Marfa from Austin since you’re in the area is like telling someone to take a drive to Erie, PA from NYC since they are already in the region. Both approx 430 miles from each other. Like we need more visitors to Marfa. Stay in Austin dbags.
great Hyde Park postcard.
All good intentions. And yes, Austin is a fine town that gets the benefit of both coasts descending upon it for a few days a year. I spent more than my 4 college years at UT (btw, never the U of T, even to an Aggie). But the recommendation to visit Marfa, while a noble nod to another notable Texan town, is a little off. Distance-wise, it’s like recommending that a visitor to NYC make a quick sojourn to Bangor, Maine (roughly the same distance).
Liz Lambert, an arbiter of taste whose conquests are right up the ACL alley, runs hotels in Austin (the San Jose and the St. Celicia, to the combination of which I owe nearly of my wedding’s coolness) and Marfa (the El Cosmico, a midcentury trailer park, where the Railroad Revival Tour will visit later this year), and at the historic Havana in San Antonio.
But to relate Austin to Marfa in a travelogue is just sloppy. Points lost again for the light beer.
Please be quiet about Marfa, it doesn’t need any more publicity.
Is it really still cool to talk about keeping the “tourists” out of Marfa? @DY: I’m assuming you were born and bred in Marfa?
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