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  South by SouthWest 2005  
  The Hole in the Wall  
  Austin, TX  
Reviewed by:
  PostLibyan and Tracers  
Performance Rating:
Sound Quality:
Overall Rating:

South by SouthWest is much more than just a Music Festival.  It is more like a pilgramage for serious music geeks, such as my Minions.  There were over 1300 musical acts performing, and over 20,000 guests and visitors.  For one week, Austin, TX truly earns its title as The Live Music Capitol of the World.  This year, for the first time ever, i sent two Minions to check it out.  Here is their story.


So after getting up at an ungodly hour ( 4:45 EST ), PostLibyan and I flew to Dallas , where, we disembarked and went to get our rental car. It was supposed to be a compact car, so I was thinking a Neon or something like that. Instead, we got an Electric Blue PT Cruiser. O.K., now that's cool. The only thing more Indie Rock than this vehicle would have been a Mini.

Anyway, we loaded up and trekked on down to Austin …roughly 210 miles. Youch, what a drive. I don't know what we were thinking when we almost decided to drive from Atlanta to Austin . If a 210 mile drive seemed long, think about what a ~ 1100 mile drive would have seemed like.

So we reached Austin …and our room wasn't ready. Egads! I'd been awake for nigh unto forever, and all I wanted was a nap. But, it's not the hotel's fault, really, in that guests weren't checking out on time. So to kill time we wandered around downtown Austin in search of coffee and the registration booth. Both goals were accomplished fairly quickly.

But after registration we trekked back to the hotel where our room…still wasn't ready. Sigh. After some wrangling, and some help from the front desk, we finally managed to check in, wherein our free Internet connection wasn't working.

Lack of easily functioning Internet capability thwarted EvilSponge's
plan to do posting from the festival.  Oh well.

Dammit. In my real life, I work on servers and networks, so I was able to fix things in short order. With all of that now set, I took a nap, and then we prepared for the evening.

Around 8 or so, we headed off in the PT Cruiser to a pre-SXSW show at the Hole in the Wall, where one of my new favorite bands, Austin 's own Hitchhike, were planning to play. The lead singer of Hitchhike had warned us that, since things were free, it would get crowded fast. And indeed, once we reached the bar, it did get crowded. I, the short little girl, was stuck towards the back of the crowd, so I couldn't see anything. But you know? It didn't bloody well matter, as I had a relatively open place to stand.

The first act was a singer-songwriter named Jon Nolan. He was rather good, with nice crowd interaction and good songs. Of the three songs he played, the second, a song about being broken down in a van outside Hope Arkansas was the standout.

  Well, he was doing that Americana thing. Call him a solo artist I guess. Overall, I wasn't too terribly impressed, but I didn't hate him either. Not like the woman who came after him. Ugh, I forget her name but she did three songs of perfectly generic vaguely twangy crap. But then Hitchhike came on….  
  I've only heard Hitchhike via their debut EP, which I reviewed here. I really really liked the EP, so I was looking forward to their set, and the band didn't disappoint at all. The first two songs were really good, but the last one was the best. It's called I'm Not Tired, and is a highlight of the EP. In concert, the song worked even better as lead singer Kyle Barnett's voice soared above a wall of sound backed by the excellent drumming of his wife, Lisa. Wow. Just simply, Wow.  
  The first two tunes they did sounded pretty cool, but the whole band jelled together when they hit I’m Not Tired, which is a damned catchy song to begin with. And I had this wonderful moment, wedged in the back of The Hole in the Wall between the cigarette machine and the bar, drinking my insanely cheap Shiner Bock ($5 a pitcher!!!), bouncing along to this great tune, watching the massive crowd (since I couldn’t really see the stage) and I thought “Wow, I’m on vacation!” It was perfect, and the song really fit the moment.  
  After they finished, we stayed for a few more acts, none of which introduced themselves. One was I think called Mark Spottiswood and his Enemies, who played a Motown influenced British blues/rock. He was very good as well, and I think I'd like to see him again.  
  I really liked his set, too. I would call him an artist in the British Northern Soul tradition, kind of like The Blue Nile or Simply Red. He had a wonderful voice, and his band (mostly consisting of horn players on this night) did a fine job. A very interesting performance.  

Otherwise, everyone else we saw seemed good. And I would have liked to stay, but by 10:30 or 11, I was just plain exhausted. So rather than wear ourselves out before SxSW really began, we headed back to the hotel, and promptly passed out.


Go on and read about the other days of SxSW05:
Day 1: Wednesday.16.March.2005
Day 2: Thursday.17.March.2005
Day 3: Friday.18.March.2005
Day 4: Saturday.19.March.2005

Related Links:

Many of the bands mentioned here have been reviwed on EvilSponge before. Links have been placed where those bands are mentioned.


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