Friday, March 16, 2012

On Chugging the SXSW Haterade

Pardon the diatribe, but better here than in comments to the kajillion Facebutt postings I've been seeing. Because this is where I talk.

I don't understand all the grousing about SXSW and selling out and how great it used to be and all that crapola.

First of all, everything used to be better than it is now. And if you fall prey to this sort of speculation I think it says more about you than it does about the subject of your bitter nostalgia.

Here's a fact: SXSW has never been a nonprofit altruistic public service. It's a moneymaker for the Chronicle, the city of Austin, and many businesses therein (who often pay most of their year's bills with money made during this week), and it's a chance for lots of pasty hipster people to eat tacos and barbecue and drink tons of beer and see craploads of great bands.

And re: Springsteen and all the bitching about him taking up the spotlight? Cripes. Get the eff over it. I got to see Tom Waits there back when I was a resident and Chronicle writer, and I don't remember people bitching about him taking attention away from the starving artists. It was just a chance for a small number of incredibly lucky bastards to see him in a gorgeous theater late at night. Same thing with the Boss. Saying he's manufactured or a tool of the man is just plain stupid and uninformed. Mindless haterism at its mindlessest.

Now, this is not to say that it's not fun or good sport to slam SXSW. To a certain extent it keeps them honest. But there's a difference between poking fun while photo-oping the corporate takeover and thinking you've got SXSW and Austin's number--that number being the 666 to musical and artistic integrity and purity. That's just silliness.

Like life, like everything, SXSW is what you make of it, for bands, attendees, corpopig sponsors, day party hosts, homeless dudes making a killing, food trucks, everyone. It stopped being a place to get discovered nearly 2 decades ago. That's what the interwebs are for. That's what touring is for. SXSW is a big fat awesome party. And it's fun if you let it be. So get over the righteousness and enjoy it, or stay away and let the people who want to have fun have fun. Odds are you're just blocking their view.

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