I should mention that despite my last couple of posts reflecting that the last few bands I saw on Sunday night sucked, it was an overall extremely positive experience! A+++ will drunkenate again.
In fact, I ended that evening by having a lovely bartender regale me with the tale of seeing a drunken St. Paddy's Day customer face-planting on their totally-non-ADA-but-totally-Texan concrete stairs, caving in her teeth, (which is horrible) and then trying to claim that a bouncer had punched her (which moves it into schadenfreude territory). Once it took this turn, Drunky's friends suddenly found themselves to be urgently required elsewhere.
I'm probably a bad person for enjoying tragic customer stories like this, but hey, professional hazard.
I was bummed that there seemed to be no Dart Music presence at SXSW this year. I had discovered a number of good bands through his showcases in previous years. Plus, I was just so impressed when I figured out his trick, which I may have talked about before: here's a guy whose Dream Jeopardy Categories include worldwide indie rock, and writing grant proposals, so he runs a non-profit whose mission is to collect charitable donations to fly bands to Austin to play for free. It's brilliant.
To recap my technique:
- Put in a ton of research on bands that (based on a 10 second listen of one song) might be worth checking out.
- Create an iCal with dozens of options per hour, including when else the band in question is playing.
- Don't be tied to the schedule: "let's stay here and see who's up next" is often a fine approach.
- If the band is late, bail (this almost never happens: they all run a tight ship, so that's a sign of a major fuckup).
- Never wait in line for more than a few minutes: that venue is either too large or too crowded for you to be able to see the show. If you have to wait for an hour, that's two or three other bands you could have seen.
- Never see a band who will surely tour your city: you could instead be seeing an equally-good band who may never make it to this continent again.
- Likewise, avoid seeing bands from your town out of some silly loyalty, what are you, crazy?
- Don't chase the party: I've met people who will waste vast amounts of time waiting in lines to get the special wristband that will get them into a massively overbooked room to maybe get a free drink or two. That's crazy. Drinks here are cheap, don't be such a leech.
- The more prominent the corporate branding, the less likely the venue is to be worthwhile. Avoid "The Megacorp House By Parasite".
- When in doubt, wander. Listen at the door, or just go back to a venue you've liked before and see who's next.
- Elysium has the stink of late-90s Cat Club on it. Maggie Mae's Rooftop has a 300 person capacity but only 20 of them get to see the stage. Avoid those two. Most other venues range from adequate to great, and almost everyone has a sound system that is so new that you can still smell the glue on the speakers.
- Best cafe: Halcyon. Best food truck: Mmmpanadas. I avoided eating even a single slice of pizza this year!
They sure do treat you like a crazy person when you opt for the grope instead of the cancer scanner.