A Sleater-Kinney Start-Up At Sxsw

Amy Dalness
3 min read
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After trekking to downtown Austin via the 1M bus line, I arrived at the convention center and received my SXSW Music badge and a huge bag of swag full of magazines, fliers, a hangover kit and a condom (for those really crazy SXSW moments, I guess). All really seemed quiet on the music front, unfortunately. I wandered up Guadalupe (pronounced Guad-da-loop here in Texas) shopping at a few secondhand stores. Then, I set to the task of “planning” my week … which meant looking through the 5-pound book they provided me with a complete conference schedule of speakers, workshop topics, official SXSW parties and (most importantly) a list of every band, every hour of every night starting tonight through Sunday. My “plan” consists of must dos (the New Mexico music showcase tonight at Las Manitas; gotta show the home boys love), should dos (the all-Japan party featuring some of the best music from the Far East—they say) and could dos (of course, there are like 30 bands playing every hour of every night … and I can only be in one club at a time). In short, I’m going to miss a lot, but I’m also going to see a lot. Madness! Last night, it was the SXSW Film closing and Music opening party in some warehouse in the “funky” part of town. I found out about the party in the 5-pound book, and I only cared to go because it featured a performance by Sleater-Kinney http://www.sleater-kinney.com/index2.php. Another ride on the 1M and a shuttle from the Hilton to the warehouse brought me to what looked like a beach party full of spring breakers. There was a 30-foot line to the three port-a-potties, a very large mass of people surrounding the stage and a large pull down screen near the bar on which was projected Sleater-Kinney’s performance so no one missed anything at anytime. Heaven.

Sleater-Kinney really was the perfect way to start off this music experience, and they are one of the few all-girl groups I like. I don’t know what it is, but I often find female groups boring and contrived. Not these girls. Each member has her own personality and huge talent to bring to the stage. At one point, the drummer, Janet Weiss, was playing the drum set and the harmonica, which I think is just incredible.

Sleater-Kinney’s performance was undeniable awesome, but another thing really captured my attention—the crowd. Music lovers from all walks of life filled what Sleater-Kinny’s Carrie Brownstein fittingly called “a giant cinder block.” Musicians, booking agents, promoters, record company reps and little ol’ me. I’m going to learn so much this week, and it’s not going to be just the about the music. This will be my crash course in the music industry proper … not just the little I know from talking to P&R types. Now I’m off to get some coffee before hitting up the trade show. Next post: The New Mexico SXSW Showcase. Let’s see what the tourism department can do for our boys and girls in music.

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