Before the plane lifted off for a flight back to NYC from Austin’s South By Southwest Music Festival, the airline attendant joked via loudspeaker: “You all look so hip and cool.” Some passengers laughed, but probably no one disagreed. How could a flight with members of TV on the Radio be anything else? In fact,the packed plane felt like a microcosm of the festival itself, where thousands of bands, industry executives, celebrities and music fans worked and played for five days at parties in clubs, bars and makeshift venues like parking garages.
Some would say there’s a downside to having so much “hip and cool” descend upon one mid-sized city. The quest to get into the coolest parties (this year: Kanye West and friends at an abandoned power plant) and encounter the biggest celebs (Jon Hamm was at Duran Duran!) feels at times like an intense competition, which is probably why there’s a backlash against oversharing SXSW details on Twitter. Detractors would argue that a cult of celebrity shouldn’t eclipse the music at a festival that originated 25 years ago to help expose coming-of-age bands.
But even detractors might have a hard time not having a blast. Several bands previewed entire upcoming albums, including the Foo Fighters and the Antlers. There were enormous stadium-sized shows (The Strokes, Bright Eyes), televised events (mtvU’s Woodies), must-see emerging acts (James Blake, Odd Future, Oh Land) and countless smaller bands grinding away around the clock.
Check out pics and videos of VH1 News interviewing this year’s SXSW artists, including the Foo Fighters, Janelle Monae, Yoko Ono, Duran Duran, Oh Land, Fitz & the Tantrums, Friendly Fires, G.Love, Two Door Cinema Club, Miguel and Moby.
Thanks to Chrysler and Samsung for sponsoring our SXSW coverage.