Like so many of the world’s great ideas, the Southwest by No Fest began as a joke. It eventually manifested on some flyers last year, and in 2010 SWxØFest has morphed into something resembling a full-fledged festival. Events, which began last week, the convergence of a handful of atypical venues and the bounty of touring bands passing through town this month. KUNM 89.9 FM DJ and longtime promoter of local music and arts events Derek Caterwaul is among those at the helm of the endeavor. He says this month's fest is not so much a spin-off of the music industry spectacle that is SXSW but more a spinout inspired by a concentration of creative energy and counter-SXSW Austin events like Fuck by Fuck You and GAYbiGAYGAY.
Shows, scheduled with the avoidance of overlap in mind, are being hosted all over town at coffee shops, galleries, retail stores and otherwise—places like The Kosmos, REVLIS Art Space, the Coalmine, Another Door Store, the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, Winning Coffee, Heaven and Hell, Gold House, Gold Manor, Black Market Goods, q-Staff theatre, and band practice spaces.
When asked about the appeal of playing at unconventional places, Caterwaul says (via e-mail), "I'm sure some see 'underground' and 'DIY' as badges of credibility to collect on their way to some fantasy notion of fame and fortune, but it's also a much friendlier and personal way of sharing culture. And that's not always absent in conventional venues." Caterwaul cites resent shows at Burt's Tiki Lounge and the Launchpad as examples of familial exceptions. He says that do-it-yourself implies a certain amount of integrity that's not forced by economic pressures.
Between now and Monday, March 29, SWxØFest events around town will take the form of art exhibits, film screenings, a bike crawl, a quiet night gathering, a fashion show and, of course, performances by dozens of live bands.
"Everybody's gonna be grinning like fools at each other,” says Caterwaul, “because they all realize that they're part of something really exciting and fun and important in their own town."