By David Krell
Each year, America and England share a moment. Such a moment exceeds all expectations, despite the media's attempt at exaggerating it.
Yet, there is no possibility of being upset once the lineup for the 2006 South By Southwest Festival is announced. 1400 Bands are officially signed up to play the five day music festival in Austin, Texas.
Everyone from Morrissey to Neil Young to Arctic Monkeys and Animal Collective play SXSW. There are also hundreds of other bands not on the lineup who make the trip out to Austin for possible exposure, but think "possible" rather than "impossible." These bands play parking lots, quickly made-up tents, tobacco shops, amongst other well-devised stages.
In other words, South By Southwest is the place where the world finds out about the next big thing in music. Lollapalooza and Coachella gloat about having over a hundred bands spread across a field, but how about thousands of bands spread across an entire city?
Every building becomes a venue- restaurants, pool halls, shops, rooftops, bare lots and any place with space for a band. Parking miles away from the center of town, yet having a parking space between two concerts is the norm.
Unfortunately, only those who work in the music industry can afford to attend the festival. Therefore, the festival is attended solely by those looking for the next big thing.
He or she watches a band's set for two to three songs and then goes to the next venue until he or she has seen 40-50 bands over the course of a day. The festival doesn't even title a band's time onstage as a set, but rather, a "showcase."
A showcase is another way of saying, "you have our attention for 10 minutes, so you better be good." Bands who were able to keep such viewer's attention included Arcitc Monkeys, Wolfmother, We Are Scientists and Tapes N' Tapes.
We Are Scientists were the highlight of the Spin Magazine party, while Tapes N' Tapes blew the crowd away at the Blender party. Both We Are Scientists and Tapes N' Tapes began the festival as opening bands, but left organizing their own headlining tours. In fact, Tapes N' Tapes were just recently signed to a major record label.
SXSW is monumental for just this reason, as it is usually the last place to see many bands before you need to dish out $50 and buy a pair of binoculars.? If you have the money, the energy and enough desire for music, this is the greatest musical gathering the world has ever seen.? If not, you can still come and stand outside each venue without paying a cent (psst...they havent perfected the soundproofing yet).