SXSW: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Spring Break
For many college students, Spring Break signals a week at the beach or the pool, soaking in much needed Vitamin D. But for those passionate about music, a little festival in Austin, TX called South by Southwest coincides with Spring Break. Instead of a swimsuit, we pack comfy shoes and prepare for a sleepless week of walking, waiting and rocking out.
This year featured huge names like The Strokes and Bright Eyes spotlighting their new albums at Auditorium Shores. New bands looking for some exposure included Smith Westerns, Toro Y Moi, Twin Shadow and Odd Future. We decided to check out the MTV Woodie Awards Wednesday night, where we were amazed by the Foo Fighters and their new single “Rope.” Wiz Khalifa performed “Black and Yellow,” as the crowd went wild, waving black and yellow towels.
Two acts I loved were Sleigh Bells and Two Door Cinema Club. Sleigh Bells’ “Rhythm Riot” rang loudly but pleasantly in my eardrums long after the show ended. Halfway through their bone-rattling performance, they were joined onstage by marching band members from Texas’ Prairie View A&M University. Then came Irish band Two Door Cinema Club’s performance of “What You Know,” which was swift and energetic. They also won a “Breaking Woodie” for best new act.
I was devastated to hear ex-White Stripes’ Jack White played an impromptu short set outside his Third Man Records rolling record store Wednesday. So Thursday I was determined to at least see the legendary rocker with my own eyeballs. Around noon, therolling record truck parked at Waterloo Records, and while hundreds waited in line to buy records and merchandise, I idled in front of the truck waiting for Jack.
Suddenly, he appeared in the truck and began to DJ some songs by his group The Dead Weather and Wanda Jackson, who he has recentlycollaborated with. After almost two hours The Greenhornes began to play on a nearby stage. Jack Lawrence, Greenhornes’ bassist, also happens to be a member of The Dead Weather, so naturally Jack emerged to watch his band mate perform. As soon as he exited the truck, my heart stopped. He walked directly by me and I stuck out my hand. He grasped it in a firm handshake and said, “Hey, nice to meet you.” He watched a few numbers then a taxi pulled up and he quickly slipped in and left.
Thursday night, The Strokes performed for free at Auditorium Shores. By nightfall, we were packed like sardines, with little breathing room and barely any space to move. Soon before people began begging security for water, and some people left before The Strokes even appeared onstage.
As The Strokes began with “Whatever Happened?” the crowd went wild. People pushed so vigorously, that some girls asked security to pull them out because they could not stand the crush. Onstage, the Strokes performed new material like “Under Cover Of Darkness” and “Life Is Simple In The Moonlight,” as fans rocked out, despite the tightness in the crowd. I have to say it was hard to get into the music with my internal organs being crushed, but I tried my best to ignore the jostling. People began dropping like flies, and as security rescued more victims, front man Julian Casablancas nonchalantly growled, “One at a time, guys, one at a time . . . ” The Strokes ended with a mind-blowing fireworks display against the backdrop of downtown Austin with “Last Nite.” It was a perfect ending to such a crazy and intense show.
SXSW is not for the faint of heart, and requires much waiting in line and staying up ’til all hours. For music lovers, SXSW is an unforgettable experience that ignites and sustains our passion for music. See you next year!
All photos courtesy of Lily Angelle.
Lily Angelle is a sophomore Radio-Television-Film major at The University of Texas in Austin, TX. She hopes to one day be a cinematographer or screenwriter. In her spare time she enjoys going to concerts, and often writes music reviews for the blog “30 Days Out.” Lily’s favorite bands are Weezer, The Beatles, and The Velvet Underground. You can often find her studying on campus in the Cactus Cafe, or around Austin at Home Slice, her favorite pizza place.