The Crossing Border Festival left my brain slightly overcast
By Audra Schroeder,
1:50PM, Wed. Nov. 25, 2009
God bless Holland and its generous weed laws and walkable city centers. In Den Haag, Holland, last week for the Crossing Border Festival, a whirl of music and literature that lands here in March, I had a foggy vision of Austin.
The Hague, a historical city and seat of Dutch parliament, was the perfect backdrop for this cultural summit, much like Austin is during South by Southwest. Their "downtown" was being reconstructed to accommodate only pedestrians and bicycles, the latter of which almost outnumber cars. The city government was involved with the fest at almost every level, proud to be exporting their arts scene. And the main venue was pleasantly efficient: a lovely theater that doubled as multiple stages.
It was an interesting collection of talent, too. McSweeney’s celebrated its 10th anniversary with readings by Me Generation figurehead Jay McInerney, young Brit author Richard Milward, and Liz Taylor lover Kathe Burkhart.
Grizzly Bear, Monsters of Folk, and Steve Earle proved the Dutch love big-name singer-songwriters, but there were also more intimate performances, like a solo Steve Malkmus doing "Shady Lane" acoustic to about 100 people, Jim White playing fireside during the day, and Belgian proto-metal trio Madensuyu.
Earlier in the week, five bands from the Hague who will be coming to South by Southwest played a teaser showcase. These kids were young and mainlining rock & roll almost exclusively. There's something in the air there, or maybe the water, or maybe it's the FEBO.