CJLO @ SXSW : Andrew's Metal Coverage

South By Southwest is at this point a festival that has pretty much everything. Starting as a music festival and then expanding to film, gaming, comedy, and tech, there's not much uncovered territory. This was my first year of attending what is arguably the U.S's largest most compact festival, and I have to say it's a bit overwhelming as a first-timer.

The CJLO contingency, consisting of our head, world music director, hip-hop director, and myself(the metal music director), got in Wednesday afternoon, and after settling in at the hotel we headed to the convention center, to pick up wristbands, because, yeah, we're important like that.

After a brief stop at a Welsh music showcase, I took a trek up to the University of Austin Texas campus to the Spider House Cafe where an unofficial showcase featuring 50 stoner rock / doom bands had been going on on three stages all day since noon. If you ever happen to be in Austin and plan on walking, might I suggest to not be an idiot like me and just get a day bus pass for 2.50 USD. It will save you a whole lot of time and later you won't feel dumb about not taking it. As an aside, we took a bus to the downtown from the airport for 1.25 USD, which seems less expensive than the 10 CAD dollars Montreal charges. Not saying... just saying.

I caught a couple bands at Spider House including Atala (29 Palms), Void King (Indianapolis), Volur (Toronto), and 1476 (Salem), all of which were pretty awesome. I then headed back and walked around downtown and promptly became overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things to do, so after randomly stopping around places that vaguely sounded like things I might like I went back to the hotel.

The next day, learning from my lesson about buying tickets for the bus, I bought tickets to go out to The Lost Well, which is pretty rad for the unofficial Big Daddy's Hot Sauce showcase, featuring bands such as Sex Cult (Austin), Duel (Austin), Venomous Maximus (Houston), Blackwulf (Oakland), and a reunited Dixie Witch (Austin). I then headed to a real actual official SXSW metal showcase at Dirty Dog to see Gatecreeper (Arizona) and Spirit Adrift (Phoenix), both of which were pretty solid.

This brings us to Friday where we went on a group outing to where crass commercialism was stationed. Oh, I'm sorry, what I meant was, "where major corporations rented out bars and set them up as literal advertisements for things like, Showtime, Malteasers, M&Ms, and Doc Martens. " Now, that all sounds negative, and I guess to some extent it is, but on the other hand, I got free candy, so... I guess it evens out?

We then made our way over to the always delightful Aussie BBQ, which, in case you didn't get it from the title, showcases Australian talent. If you're at SXSW or really any festival where they're at, I recommend stopping by, if not for the music then for the free food, which is always good.

Our head MD and I then broke off so we could go check out some bands, including a generally bored set, except for an extremely calculated "punk rock ending", from a band called Moaning. We then went our separate ways and I went to enjoy the second official SXSW showcase from Ripple Music, who mainly deals in stoner rock bands, managing to catch Mothership (Dallas), Wo Fat (Dallas), and Blackwulf... again.

And as an excuse to mention other things, here's some things that I missed for many reasons, but mainly because I didn't plan things out well:
- Say Anything, due to max (pun) capacity
- ‎Cut Copy performing "Hearts on Fire" while eating M&Ms and then promptly leaving knowing that nothing they do would be better
- ‎seeing Ghostland Observatory
- ‎visiting the Comedy Central house
- ‎missing the Thrasher unofficial showcase with Eyehategod
- ‎not staying an extra night so I could go to the best named official showcase, Don't Mosh with Texas
- ‎not attending a bridge show at 3AM with Integrity because I knew I would miss my plane the next day
- ‎not going to the mostly unrelated two day long Stoner Daze fest because it was impossible to get to without a car

I guess the ultimate question you might be asking is, "Should I go to SXSW if I am into metal?" and like most answers to questions the answer is both "yes" and "no".

You may have noticed that through this I made note of unofficial and official SXSW showcases. Something I didn't realize is that SXSW has a lot of "official" showcases co-signed by them. The rest of the hundreds of shows are all "unofficial" shows not sanctioned by the festival and most of those are free ones you can just wander into.

This may also be a time to point out that if you go onto SXSW's website and look under metal, you will see twelve bands. Of the thirty-five"genres" they have listed, metal is the twenty-second best represented, meaning a full 12 other "genres" have less bands listed under them. That's respectable, and the bands listed in metal are varied, but ultimately, SXSW lacks pretty heavily in servicing metal fans.

The reasons for this could be many. Is SXSW not looking to book metal in favor of more accessible and popular genres? Maybe. Has it been that when SX held metal showcases they were under attended? Possibly. Is it harder to justify bands traveling to Texas which is why most that played, whether at official or unofficial shows, are from the Lone Star State? I have no idea. Maybe a mix of all of these and far more could be said about it by far smarter people.

Bottom line, if you like metal and only want to see metal at SX, you can do it. It's probably a bad decision and you' missing some of the point of the festival, but you can do it. But if you like music and feel like being adventurous, then to answer the question above, "Hell yeah SXSW is worth you going to." I for one am looking forward to going next year, and this time I'll have a way better handle on what to do.

Plus if nothing else, Austin in the tail end of winter is superior to Montreal at the tail end of winter any day, so there's that.