My SXSW

Music fest diary

My SXSW

As I type this, I'm sitting at a picnic table by the lake, and it's just glorious. After a brief set at the Marriott this afternoon, where I'll be playing in a conference room for a bunch of Sony BMG people – sure to be a rowdy affair – I fly back to New York. What a drag.

I usually spend SXSW wishing I were here at any time other than SXSW, when I could hang with my Austin friends (who don't come near Sixth Street during this thing) and play for a real Texas crowd. But I had fun this year. I bumped into a bunch of old friends on the street, old homies from the days I was on Warner Bros., like my friend Jake Slichter, author of So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star, one of the best books about the music business I've ever read. We had a long talk, sitting in front of a parking garage on Congress, about how the right had co-opted spirituality, and an assorted bunch of musician pals. One friend that had moved to Bangkok was down here pimping Thai bands. I even dug my gig at Buffalo Billiards on Wednesday night, rare as it is to have a good show in front of an industry-convention crowd.

I can sum up my SXSW experience in seven words: I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness. I don't know what the hell they sound like, but I want to have their babies. If nothing else, they've proven to me that attendees actually read the SXSW guide.

"Dude, I just saw the baddest band name I've ever seen in my life; it was ... I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness?"

"Yeah!"

My piano player, Canada Dan Chen, and I took a $40 cab ride to the Salt Lick (my Austin friends are all vegan). Our driver was a guy named Leroy, who insisted that the Salt Lick was nothing special, and we should go to Black's, in Lockhart, but it was closed. Um, Leroy, are you trying to dissuade us from giving you $40? He also went on about his son, who'd moved up to Manhattan.

"He's met some guys into jazz and blues, which is good 'cause he used to play that New Wave.

"Huh! New Wave," he said disdainfully. "I hate New Wave."

The 2021-2022 Austin Music Awards Music Poll is underway. Vote now for your favorite bands, venues, and music until January 31.

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