Home > Uncategorized > SXSW – Wraps and reviews

SXSW – Wraps and reviews

A few posts earlier, I commented on the fact that there doesn’t appear to be much new and great in popular music in the first ten years of the 21st century. The 4-day South by Southwest festival that took place over the past weekend offers an interesting look into the state of new and emerging music, and also – perhaps, more-so – the old, familiar favourites.

There is some debate on what the spirit of the SXSW festival is really about: some believe that it is a breeding ground for new independent acts that are being given an opportunity to showcase their talents and product to industry people and fans; others will argue that the indie element is only a small part. The bulk of the attention may inevitably be reserved for bands and artists of way-past generations to show that they still have it (Smokey Robinson), and maybe get industry backing for a reunion tour; and for come back attempts from the likes of the once-popular Hole, and the still-relevant Stone Temple Pilots. FYI, STP is about to release a new album.

Whatever the case, it’s difficult to ignore the reality of the latter opinion, as cynical as it may seem. SXSW ultimately is an industry event, and industry people – managers, producers, record labels, etc. – are interested in the tried and true, especially in the absence of the undeniably new and bold. They are also interested in come back stories. Come backs sell! Come backs, by definition, have a market and a fan base already established, and they can market the old to the new – market to a younger fan base.

This is a formula very much like the one used for movie trilogies and franchises, ahem.. Star Wars, Terminator…

And then there’s the trouble that some reviewers of the 4-day event didn’t really feel much of a buzz about any of the performances, that everything seemed more or less muted and unoriginal. Not to say that the event wasn’t a success, it certainly featured plenty of great music and artists; it’s only that nothing very interesting was said to have emerged from the performances.

Nevertheless, I’ll say this: if you’ve never been to a festival concert before, make it a point to go this summer. It’s an experience worth having – like driving 10,000 km back and forth across Canada 😉 – and new or not, great music is still great music! Even veteran concert-goers can find new reasons to go back again and again.

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