The 10 Worst Things at SXSW This Year

Categories: SXSW

This year Rocks Off and DC-9 at Night, the music blog at our sister paper Dallas Observer, teamed up to bring you only the most unfortunate moments from last week's SXSW madness.

Corgan SXSW MT 0317.jpg
Photos by Marco Torres
Somebody somewhere really did not want us to see Smashing Pumpkins at SXSW.
Security and Cops Gettin' Wild: Look, I get it. Every drunken dickhead in town "knows someone" or thinks he has pull at the door, but that doesn't mean the hammer goes down on everyone. I was stopped by two cops who didn't want me to walk 50 yards from where the Smashing Pumpkins would be playing an hour hence, for unknown reasons.

And then when you want to play the whimpering "I have a SXSW badge, though" card, you feel like a choad and don't. I don't know what function preventing people from walking in the middle of a closed street had, but I hope it somehow saved thousands of lives. CRAIG HLAVATY


All the Garage-Rock Acts: Should just pool their beer, weed and cigarette money together and start sending the Black Lips royalty checks. I steered clear of every obnoxious surf-, fuzz-, buzz- and ADHD-plagued group I could, and still some of it made its way into my earholes. I would say I am ready for the next big movement, but what if it involves garage and dubstep? What then? CRAIG HLAVATY


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Marco Torres
Note: This is not the Flaming Lips.
The Constant Noise: Did you know there is a lot of live music in Austin during SXSW? There is a lot. So much, in fact, that the din reaches a pitch sufficient to drown out the more feeble buskers. I saw a tired dude playing acoustic guitar, muted completely by the nearby patio stages and the distant rumble from the monolithic vending machine or whatever and the hundreds of people rushing by, talking loudly on their cell phones. KIERNAN MALETSKY


The Flaming Lips: The Flaming Lips are one of my favorite bands, so naturally I knew I would have to see their set at SXSW this year. The psych-rockers closed out Friday's free Auditorium Shores show, making their mark by playing their fantastic new record The Terror in its entirety.

So why is this in the "worst of SXSW" post? Teasing. Just before playing their anthemic "Do You Realize?" to close out the show, Lips front man Wayne Coyne began to tease the crowd relentlessly that Justin Timberlake would be joining them on the song. He then ran backstage, ostensibly to bring out JT.

Most of us were unsurprised, despite some glimmers of hope, when Coyne showed up with a decidedly heavier-set man in a green mask. Coyne pulled the mask off to reveal that it was instead My Morning Jacket front man Jim James, who had played an uninspired opening set earlier in the night; a cruel yet ultimately hilarious joke. COREY DEITERMAN


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12 comments
daniel.glover
daniel.glover

"They were at small venues seeing promising (and unpromising) acts like lame-o no-fun dorks. If you never saw Macklemore & Lewis this SXSW, you were doing it right.

Let the popped collars have their shows, let me keep my Central Presbyterian pews and Lustre Pearl backyard." 

I saw Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in a back yard one block from and not dissimlar to Lustre Pearl.  So does that mean I was doing it wrong or doing it right?  Note: collar was unpopped.   

RamonLP4
RamonLP4

  Good gravy, this was easily the most pathetic SXSW coverage I've seen by HP in ages.  A group of lazy lists and a piece about a hook-up app.  Really?  And for god sake, it pains me to say this because he's done so much great work over the years but Hlavatly is done.  He's gone from an engaged writer doing all the hard work required on the ground to a burned out hack.  Why assign someone who months ago said that the SXSW thing is pretty much over and the real action is in the tech side? So he can go and complain about hipsters and garage bands?  Again, I have a lot of respect for his work he's done in the past but please, don't send him next year.  


If anyone had a million reasons not to have fun this year, it was me yet, somehow even being sick while I was there and able to see fewer bands than I wanted to because of it, I felt that I had a hell of a lot better time and came out with better stories to tell people than the handful of articles churned out this year would suggest.  It's a shame because for all it's problems (and indeed there are many) it's like the Westheimer Block Party/ Street Festival - if SXSW were to go away, people would complain about how much they miss it.  There is fun and there are still magical moments to be found even in the age of Doritos stages.  It's just that some fun just takes a bit more work, openness, and a willingness to roll with whatever comes your way.   

H_e_x
H_e_x

With regards to foxygen, when will twee go away? Why do so many bands strive for that smarmy shtick?

EskimoQuin
EskimoQuin

foxygen is fun. haters gunna hate

jenkinshouse55
jenkinshouse55

"Let the popped collars have their shows, let me keep my Central Presbytarian pews and Lustre Pearl backyard." - CRAIG HLAVATY = Exactly! I don't mind the big shows.  I just avoid them - and I try to avoid the media that covers the big shows so I can just pretend they don't exist.  However, with those big shows comes $20 parking and all the bars jacking up drink prices ($8 margarita at Lustre Pearl for example).  I avoid the high cost of parking by getting there early and parking at 3rd and Comal, but I stopped short of bringing a flask to the shows to avoid the high liquor costs...   I had an amazing time as usual so no complaints from me.

idylwino
idylwino

Right there with you on Foxygen.   I checked the album out on a whim based on a high review from a pretentious online publication and found it utterly forgettable, but I figured maybe they're just a really good live band.

Also, I was worried that Corgan was going to be one of the worst things at SXSW and 20 year old 1993 me was going to be very sad.    I read reports they actually did a great show.  :(

Sean Padilla
Sean Padilla

It's unfortunate that I agree with every word of this article.

Andre Habet
Andre Habet

I preferred SXSW this year over last and that was purely due to how I approached the event. Last year I spent much of my time waiting in line (and often not making it in) to see big name acts. This year I avoided the big venues as often as possible and caught almost 30 amazing bands at venues like st David's, easy tiger, Barcelona, holy mountain, stephen f's bar and north door. Additionally, most of these venues had little technical issues when I was there and the artists seemed to be having just an amazing time as the audience ans not saving anything for some bigger showcase later in the week.

Houston Press Rocks Off
Houston Press Rocks Off

I saw him twice myself and dug it. His SXSW panel on Wednesday gave great insight into the MMJ process.

Eric Torres
Eric Torres

Jim James gave an uninspired set Friday evening?? Wtf? He was amazing. Guess u were one of the ppl chanting Justin timberlakes name during the encore. Ha

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

That's a very well thought out and well written argument. I was in Austin on JOB bit'ness and wouldn't go near any of this on a dare but that's point. Folks who are engaged and excited and young (in attitude if nothing else) should be the ones covering it. Reading the eye-rolling lines, I felt like I was in the middle of a debate on what is/isn't hipster/punkrock/preppy. Again, I really enjoyed reading your comment.

mtorres123
mtorres123

@idylwino that's my photo up there. I'm not a SP fan, and don't know their songs, but he plays a mean guitar and people were having fun. the line was around the building to get in, and there were crowds outside on and across the street, around the block, and on rooftops. Def didn't suck.

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