SXSW 2007: A summary

A few things interfered with my enjoyment of SXSW this year, and they were all boneheaded, clumsy things absolutely not related to the festival at all.

First, I lost an unopened pack of cigarettes right before the Pistol Valve showcase on Friday, which didn’t put me in the right frame of mind to see the band. Then tonight I discovered I made a banking error that left me overdrawn by $900. Yes, you read that right. I also lost my lighter at the very last venue I attended. I guess the universe is telling me to quit smoking.

The weather this week has been absolutely gorgeous, and every evening was beautifully cool and breezy. I noticed, however, every night I returned from shows, I was not a sticky, sweaty mess. I can account for Wednesday — the Hideout is a theater, not a club, so there was no crush of sweaty bodies. For the remaining nights, I ended up at places with patios, the only places where you can legally smoke in Austin, so I spent quite a bit of time outdoors. I also didn’t stay for the entire Japan Nite on Friday.

A friend of mine questioned whether I was maximizing the cost of my SXSW wristband. This year, I strove for quality, not quantity. Yes, $130 is a lot to pay for admission to clubs for four night, but I would like to enjoy the shows I go to with that wristband. And that means feeling comfortable. If there’s no incentive for me to stay till last call, why should I? If I’m not feeling wowed by a performance, why shouldn’t I find someplace to park my ass? I’d rather give my feet a rest than suffer through a showcase for which I feel ambivalent.

At the same time, I knew beforehand — judging by sound samples and name recognition — the pull to the showcases I normally like wouldn’t be as strong. SXSW 2007 marks the ninth festival I’ve attended. I’ve developed a feel for what might win me over.