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Serious Austin powers at SXSW

Thousands of musicians from around the world are crowding into the capital city of Texas today for South by Southwest. They’ll rock out for the next four days and nights for industry insiders, press and fans.

Thousands of musicians from around the world are crowding into the capital city of Texas today for South by Southwest. They’ll rock out for the next four days and nights for industry insiders, press and fans. I’m happy to count myself amongst the latter two legions and will report on my findings in the paper and online here.

As SXSW enters its 25th year, the conference continues to adapt to accommodate an ever-changing music industry. A majority of the acts playing are still people you’ve never heard of, vying to impress the press, get signed to a label or do anything to leap out of obscurity. A smaller segment are established acts, promoting a new project or album, and an increasing faction are giants of popular music, like Kanye West and The Strokes — a blazing SXSW performance in front of so many media entities is a sure way to grab headlines, after all.

Amy Cole, keyboardist for Canada’s Rural Alberta Advantage, says that the first time her band went to the Austin conference, it was like a dream come true.

“Not to be totally cliche and lame, but it’s one of those things that you’re like, ‘That doesn’t happen. A band doesn’t go and play an amazing show and get signed at SXSW,’ but that’s what happened to us,” she recounts gleefully.

Cameron Keiber is a founder of Boston-based label Midriff Records. He plays music under the moniker Eldridge Rodri-guez and as a member of the Beatings. He and his cohorts spent roughly $5,000 to rent out a venue in Austin for a few hours with a realistic goal: Fun!

“I don’t have a real barometer for success,” he says. “If everybody has a good time and people make new friends and everybody gets home safely and the gear gets back in one piece, as far as I’m concerned, it was successful.”

Hey, what’s going on?

Other acts see SXSW as a chance to come out of hibernation. Two members of Sleater-Kinney are premiering their new band, Wild Flag, after not having per-formed together for five years; The Strokes haven’t had a new album in as long. And songwriter Linda Perry, who has written mega-hits for Christina Aguilera and Pink, is coming out with her brand new act, Deep Dark Robot. “I haven’t been on tour or in a band since my band,” Perry says of her time in 4 Non Blondes. “For 14 years I’ve been in the studio!”


Follow Pat Healy on Twitter at @metrousmusic.

 
 
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