’Tis the season for music festivals, anchored by possibly the best, most progressive, easiest-to-navigate festival in the world, South By Southwest. Created some 25 years ago as a showcase for up-and-coming bands, the annual Austin-based festival and music conference has strayed from its mission occasionally over the years, opting to spotlight such hungry no-names as Neil Young and Tom Waits instead of, y’know, real no-names, but South By seems to be back on track. Maybe fest organizers have realized what side their bread is buttered on. Hint: It’s not the major-label side, because major labels have become the sole province of multiplatinum artists, leaving the independent underground wide open for commercialization. (Don’t you dare say, “Exploitation.”)
If you’re in to keeping score, South By is the perfect opportunity to see bands before they become famous, “become famous” in this case meaning “have their songs played on an Apple commercial” or “perform on Jimmy Fallon.” For the 2013 edition –– now through Sunday –– Fort Worth will be representin’ hard. Novelty metalheads Complete, surf-punks Fungi Girls, the Stones-ian Longshots, yacht-rockers Madràs, the roots-rocking Orbans, swamp-bluesmen Quaker City Night Hawks, and the psychedelic Skeleton Coast are the Fort Worth acts chosen to play sanctioned showcases this year –– check the bands’ Twitter feeds or Facebook pages for show dates and times. The last time as many F-Dub acts played sanctioned gigs was probably ’08 or ’09. Way to go, newbies.
Of course, South By isn’t all about sanctioned gigs. In fact, you could argue that the real action happens at the nonsanctioned parties. From Thursday through Saturday, dozens of Fort Worth musos will be at Doc’s Motorworks on South Congress for local upstart booking agency Blackbox Presents’ second annual blowout. Among the local acts slated to play SXSCongress are The Hanna Barbarians, The Longshots, The Phuss, Nice Major, Ice Eater, and Dallas’ Air Review. National acts include Little Barrie (London), Stardeath & White Dwarfs (Oklahoma City), and The Blind Pets (Austin). Admission is free. Have fun.