Nothing prepares you for the overwhelming assault on the senses that is SXSW. It’s a gargantuan mix of creative energy, with a multitude of bands playing at every conceivable location such as garages and purpose built pop up stages, along with the more traditional established venues.
Even with a planned schedule and organisation, plans can go out the window. Once you arrive, your schedule may change considerably depending on the location of the venue, the length of the queue outside the venue and unforeseen delays like the “Peruvian Creole” food truck taking 20 minutes to prepare your meal, which delays your arrival to The Moody Theatre, to see Divine Fits as they perform a searing rendition of “Shivers” by The Birthday Party. If it’s a big name like Nick Cave or Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, then the queues can be very long. The key to enjoying SXSW is to have a plan but to be open to changing it. Sounds a little like life really.
The first event on the schedule: A Conversation with Nick Cave by writer Larry Sloman, had a long queue one hour before the scheduled time. Cave and Sloman have known each other for twenty years, which meant a natural ease with each other, and a willingness from Cave to divulge more personal information. Sloman took the audience on a historical journey from Cave’s childhood in rural Victoria, to his music career and influences, his film career and his personal relationships. “I went to art school and failed in the second year, which I couldn’t believe cause I thought I was amazing (laughs). I failed and had the band going at the same time. It closed down something. I thought I was going to be a painter” revealed Nick to much laughter from the audience. Luckily for us, Cave’s failure as a painter resulted in success as a musician and songwriter. On the lack of acceptance in the early years in Australia and abroad, Cave offers; “I’ve spent my life butting against people’s lack of imagination.”
A recurring theme in Cave’s life has been the seeking of new experiences and culture by living in another city. When living in rural Victoria, Cave dreamt about going to Melbourne or Sydney to seek some culture and when he arrived in Melbourne, he found there was none. Even in the UK, he didn’t find the culture he was looking for. It wasn’t until living in Berlin that he finally found the niche he was looking for. Berlin accepted The Birthday Party into the art world and fostered his creative ideas. Berlin was very important as he wrote a book there. Cave explains how writing a book is easier than writing song lyrics; “It’s like pushing out thirteen watermelons through a small orifice. Writing a book is like pushing out one large watermelon.”
When speaking about meeting his wife Susie Porter, Cave states; “When we met I wasn’t in show room condition. It took me two years to find her phone number.”
All this talking makes one hungry and Texans take barbecues and cooking meat very seriously so their casual eateries offer a mean tasty burger, pulled pork sandwich, fries, chilli dogs and other variations. Their unpronounceable chicken roll from the Peruvian Creole food truck was phenomenal, and worth the twenty minute wait.
Off to Icenhauers for Reeperbahn Burgers, a conglomerate of Hamburg’s creative businesses from the music, film and interactive industries, with a line up of German bands. The calibre of bands was high, but the stand out was a one man punk rock show Bonaparte who came out into the crowd, with his swath of vivid pink hair dancing and cajoling audience members, and rumour has it the remaining members of the band which varies up to twenty members were stranded in an airport. Bonaparte draws crowds of ten thousand in Germany, and rumour has it that Michael Parisi is thinking of bringing the band to our shores.
At 1am The Polyphonic Spree took to the Red 7 stage, all sixteen members clad in bright psychedelic tunics, with Tim DeLaughter out front smiling at members of the audience and they played an extended set, consisting of old and new tracks; “Hold Me Now”, “Hold Yourself Up” and “We Sound Amazed.” Closer “Raise Your Head” draws the loudest audience response, with punters raising their fists, dancing with abandon (not so beautiful when you are wearing a helmet and a back pack and swinging from side to side as one idiot was). At around 1.50 am they concluded their set, and when security abruptly snatched drinks from crowd members stating that drinking was illegal in Texas after 2am, it was time to leave. Tomorrow it happens all over-again with a larger line up of acts as it’s the official Music conference opening. Stay tuned for daily updates on SXSW 2013.