In two weeks, South-by-Southwest, the annual corporate branding showcase masquerading as a music festival, descends upon Austin, the world’s most eminent Important Music City. For bands looking to further their careers, the weeklong shindig (March 12-18) is a multi-day obstacle course and endurance test which hopefully culminates in a lucky stroke of music industry beneficence, which, in layman’s terms, is like having to slog through a canal filled with old beer and new sewage interspersed with flaming loops of concertina wire, all for the chance to purchase a lottery scratch-off. The key to maximizing your enjoyment is to lower your expectations and loosen your plans. If you’re in a band, one of the most rewarding experiences you can have is partying out of town with your friends’ bands, and SXSW makes this exceedingly easy, especially if any of y’all are playing the same showcase or party. Oh, sure. You could diligently make an itinerary of important acts you want to watch and then spend your time crawling all over Austin trying to find parking. But if you accede your need to see some over-hyped nonsense from Bushwick or Nashville or, I dunno, the lost city of Atlantis, you’ll have more fun wandering among random day parties with your buds.
Buried lede alert: There are three Fort Worth-centric day parties this year, all of which will allow you to interact with (read: buy Jameson shots for) the people you see at MASS, Lola’s, Magnolia Motor Lounge, the Owl, and the Chat in a centralized spot in a different city. The biggest, most official of these is Fort Worth Now, held at Austin Fair Market (1100 E 5th St) on DAYS TK, Mar 13-14. Fort Worth Now is basically a fest-within-a-fest, featuring official SXSW panels, a Fort Worth makers market, interactive art from Fort Worth photographer Rambo, and exhibits from Bell Helicopter and Lockheed, which will include content promoting general consumer goods like the F-35. Fort Worth Now even has some music: Grady Spencer & The Work, Reagan James, Green River Ordinance, Luke Wade, Quaker City Night Hawks, Mike Ryan, Jake Paleschic, and Bonnie Bishop (backed by the Texas Gentlemen) are all slated to play over the two days.
Then there’s a three-day party at the Key Bar (617 W 6th St), sponsored by The Loop, the Fort Worth rehearsal complex owned by Toadies’ frontman Vaden Todd Lewis. Called The Loop Presents, the bar will host a whopping 33 bands DAYS TK, Mar 14-16. Scheduled to play thus far: Royal Sons, Morningside Drive, Phantomelo, Calliope Musicals, Collective Dreams, and Moon Grave. Event organizer Jamie Knight told me that one day will be heavy on nerdcore – she also said they’re still filling spots, so if you want to play SXSW and can’t seem to get your foot in the door, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, Dreamy Life is throwing a party on Fri, Mar 16, at Electric Church (5018 E Cesar Chavez St). To be honest, this party is the team to beat. For one thing, the Electric Church is probably the coolest place for a party in Austin – in Cowtown terms, it’s basically a psychedelic version of the dearly departed Where House – and for another, it includes most of the Dreamy Life family. Between 7pm and 1am, you can catch some pretty rad North Texas bands across two stages: Pearl Earl, War Party, The Fibs, Cameron Smith/Sur Duda, Andy Pickett, Movie the Band, Sub-Sahara, Steve Gnash, Teenage Sexx, Starbass Laboratories, Party Static, Loafers, Bulls, and The Cush. All three events are free with RSVPs, so check Facebook for how to do that. Hopefully your SXSW is as fun and nasty as you want it to be.