SXSW Recap: Highlights, Lowlight and Gaylights of 10 Days in Austin

3.30.2011

By Rae Votta

Moment I Saw My Life Flash Before My Eyes: Crowds get intense during SXSW Music, espeically events open to non-badge holders, which are packed with long lines snaking along Austin's sidewalks.'This was the case for MTV's Garage Event, a one-day-only showcase with several bands who were playing bigger, closed to the public events throughout the weekend.'I managed to get inside just in time for headliners Matt and Kim. I grabbed a deep fried Snickers bar and stood as far back as possible because once the set got going, the crowd was so enthusiastic they made the cement parking structure we were on start to shake.'The first time it happened it was charming, but three songs in and I had to get on solid ground because while an interesting story, I don't really want to die in a SXSW-related catastrophe.

Gays At SXSW: This year was really lacking queer bands and films, at least that I heard about.' Instead I had to enjoy the small gay moments -- meeting someone gay and realizing we know all the same people because all gays know each other, telling queer girls I work for Out as a flirting tactic (not really successful).'I did go to the biggest "gay" event,

Perez Hilton's One Night in Austin, but the crowd was mostly straight dudes who were vicious about getting their free drinks.'And, of course, the gayest of all things I did at SXSW this year -- take a night off to sit in my hotel room and watch and recap Glee's big gay kiss.

Band I Saw For The First Time: While this is mildly cheating since I'd seen his old band, Fall Out Boy, a number of times, SXSW was the first chance I got to check out Pete Wentz's new group, Black Cards.' After an extremely long day where I walked by my hotel and almost gave up and went to bed, I rallied and found my way to Maggie Mae's for the group's one and only set at SXSW.'I'm extremely glad I did, as Black Cards is more energetic and world-beat than I'd expected and they definitely kept me dancing and smiling until last call.'The band even handcuffed one enthusiastic fan to their lead singer and invited the entire crowd up on stage for their final number.'Is emo officially dead if Pete Wentz doesn't play it anymore?'I'm not sure, but I'll definitely check his new band out again.

Band I Saw For The Millionth Time And Loved: My favorite unsigned band, Empires, came back to SXSW again this year, playing a staggering seven shows in four days.'I caught three, all completely different (sleepy breakfast show, evening Chicago-bands showcase and midday outside-of-downtown dingy rock bar show) and all completely wonderful. The band is currently in the second round of
Rolling Stone's Cover Contest, up for a chance at a record deal and the cover of an upcoming issue of Rolling Stone.' Hopefully by SXSW time next year I'll be seeing them headline Stubbs.

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