Well another SXSW has come and gone faster than you can say, "badges only." After much reflection on this year's events, I'm left perplexed. I am beginning to think that maybe SXSW has outgrown Austin. Why you ask? Because I've seen more bad behavior this year than any other. It's embarrassing to see grown adults behave so poorly. Let's discuss some of these events.
Last Saturday, my dear friend Kenneth ventured east of downtown to meet some people. His outing was completely unrelated to SXSW, just a usual Saturday night. Before reaching his destination, he decided to grab a bite to eat from the #19 Bus(the big red double decker) located on the corner of 6Th and San Marcos in the East Side Drive-In. He noticed a lot of commotion going on behind the window yet proceeded to order a hamburger. The very rude woman at the window was a bit snippy with him. Kenneth noticed they were out of hamburger buns and in substitution decided to use flattened cheese steak rolls instead. He inquired about the buns in anticipation of ordering a different item. At this time, the woman would not even address Kenneth directly. He then overheard her snarl, "That out of towner doesn't want a burger!" This was a slap in the face for someone who's lived in Austin since the Clinton Administration and regularly supports local businesses. I'm sure the proprietors were probably overwhelmed and frustrated with the crowd, but who talks to people like that? Obviously, they were short on ingredients and probably understaffed, yet it is no excuse to be rude to anyone (local or tourist)! What kind of message does that send to visitors?
And where does this "locals only" attitude I've seen lately come from? What is this BLUE CRUSH? I have personally lived in Austin for twelve years now. the first year I attended SXSW I was a visitor. I absolutely fell in love with the city because of it's laid back vibe. I felt comfortable being myself and I especially enjoyed all the friendly faces I met. I still feel that way for the most part. Austin has inspired me to be a more creative, open minded, and compassionate person. True born & bred Austinites are as rare as that damn white squirrel on UT campus. So let's remember that we were all "out of towners" at one point or another.
SXSW may be inconvenient for some people, but it is easily avoidable. It's not some new event that just started. This has been going on for twenty-five years which is a lot longer than #19 Bus has been around. Bars and restaurants should know by now what to expect during SXSW. I myself realize that many places increase the price of food & drinks, but it's a small sacrifice for all the cool shows we get to see throughout the week. Most establishments are welcoming and pleased with the influx of visitors because it boosts business. SXSW is like Black Friday for most places in the downtown area. Businesses often make more money during one week of SXSW than all year! It is the bread and butter of Austin's economy and we need to be respectful of the people kindly spending their money here. I'm not saying every visitor is a perfect angel or great tipper, but let's try to be a little more hospitable. If I wanted to live among pretentious jerks I'd move to New York!
Our friend Bonnie also relayed a story to us about rude behavior at Swan Dive/Barbarella during SXSW. She arrived early at the venue for a showcase that was being sponsored by Sailor Jerry's rum. Several bottles of rum sat on the bar while the bartender prepared to setup. She noticed a patron swipe a bottle and immediately informed the bartender of the shenanigans. The bartender just scoffed at Bonnie then walked away. This was not her first run-in with said bartender. It used to be that you would only get bad attitudes at Star Seeds Cafe. However, it seems this apathetic disposition has infected the town.
Locals were not the only ones misbehaving this year. Let's talk about how Ben Weasel totally pulled a Mel Gibson. By now, most of you have seen the video of the events that took place at the Fat Wreck Showcase. It's horrific that he assaulted not one but two women in one night. What's more upsetting is that he picked a fight with someone who stood up to his antagonistic misogyny, something Screeching Weasel might have preached about 20yrs ago. Don't get me wrong, I remain an avid Screeching Weasel fan, but a fan of Ben Weasel I am not. I saw them a couple years ago at Emos for the big reunion and the performance was great, but it's no secret Ben Weasel is known for being an asshole. He is the patron saint of cynicism, but isn't that why we like his songs? At least liked his songs! I personally haven't been interested in anything since How To Make Enemies and Irritate People (no pun intended). So Ben Weasel spends an entire set dissing SXSW and "corporate stiffs," like no one has ever done that before. Seriously, if you don't want to play a "shameful excuse for a music event" then fucking don't, simple as that. Don't come to town complaining about only getting $250 & a "disgusting green room" as opposed to San Antonio who guaranteed you $25,000. You're lucky people still give a shit about Screeching Weasel! A man in his 40s with a wife and children has no business throwing a temper tantrum like that.
PS- Your half ass apology is not sufficient and the new album sucks ass.
UPDATE- Apparently, Screeching Weasel (the band) has up and quit on Ben Weasel (the jerk) as a result of his stupidity.
As soon as I heard about the Death From Above 1979 secret reunion show, I just knew shit was gonna hit the fan. There was no way Beauty Bar would be able to handle that madness, and of course a fucking riot of hipsters broke out. What's funny is that I do not remember that many people liking Death From Above while they were still around, as when they broke up. Their lifespan was very short lived with only one album released. I'm quit impartial to them, but I could care even less about MSTRKRFT which I suspect is the real reason for all the attention. My only interest in that show was to see hundreds of grown ass men weeping like the second coming, or some shit. I'm sure by Saturday most people were so delirious and drunk they hadn't considered the consequences of dismantling an entire fence. Yes, the cops WILL show up and fucking tazzer/mace your dumb ass! Was it worth it?
Initially, I had no real intention of attending SXSW this year because there really wasn't any artist I wanted to see until I heard OMD was playing. To be perfectly honest, OMD brings out the spell caster in me! I knew I wouldn't be able to catch them at Stubbs with Duran Duran so fortunately I found out about a free show at Mellow Johnny's. Good thing I missed the Stubbs set because a camera boom fell on the crowd crushing five people. A photographer continued to take pictures of the victims in a pool of blood on the ground until the fuzz forcibly removed him. Where is the humanity?
In all the years I have attended SXSW (going on 12yrs), I have never heard of anything like the events that took place this time around. How can these situations be averted? I just hope we as a community can take the next twelve months to reflect on our behavior and ensure that next year's event is much more pleasant.
Finally, I'd like everyone to consider what it would be like if Texas Relay Weekend was a week long event. Wrap your head around that.