So, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when I gripe and grumble about how much I don’t like South By Southwest. For those that don’t know, I am a casual musician. While I’d love to make at least a partial living off music, I have absolutely zero ambition to play any arena tours or judge anyone’s singing ability on TV. In case you’re thinking this is a case of sour grapes because they’ve never selected any band I’ve been in to play their awful festival, let me make it clear that I’ve never submitted to their awful festival, and I have no plans to in the future. I’m also not the type of cynical prick who simply hates anything popular. I mean, well, I am a cynical prick, but I’m not that type of cynical prick.
I’m not saying the festival is 100% pure evil, and I’m not demanding anyone with a conscience boycott it or occupy it or any dumb shit like that. I’m just saying I really, really don’t like it. Also, I know nothing of the film/interactive/comedy/gaming aspects of it. I assume that stuff is just as much of an exploitative corporate behemoth as the music end, but who knows, maybe all that’s great.
It’s only fair to point out that even if this whole thing was just as awesome as everyone says it was back in the late 80′s, I still probably wouldn’t like it. Standing out in the sun all day with thousands of other members of the general public (who I, as a rule, try to avoid whenever possible), drinking shitty beer and listening to so many bands in a week that they all blur together and I don’t even remember which ones were great and which ones sucked with a vigorous fury does not sound like a good time to me. Clearly, there’s an awful goddamn lot of people who disagree, and let’s be honest, they’re probably not the assholes here, but it is what it is.
So, you ask, what then elevates this from something you’d just as soon not engage in to something you feel the need to piss and moan about every year?
HEY, LOOK DOWN HERE IF YOU’D LIKE TO SKIP ME RAMBLING LARGELY ABOUT MYSELF AND GET TO THE MEAT OF THIS.
SXSW makes giant piles of cash off of the independent artist community I love and doesn’t offer much in return. Now, I’m no communist. The people who thought up this idea and put a lot of work into it every year certainly deserve to make some money off of it, and of course it costs a lot to put this thing together, but this has gotten a little out of hand.
For starters, every band that wants to be considered for the festival pays $30-40 to apply. The purpose of this is to discourage the bands who have absolutely no chance of getting in from clogging up the works by submitting for the hell of it, and to pay whatever poor bastard has to sift through all of them. Still, thousands upon thousands of bands submit every year, and those $40 do add up to a lot of money.
There’s also merch. All your SXSW t-shirts and coozies and mouse pads and ball caps and duffel bags and whatever else you can silk screen a logo onto.
Then there are the corporate sponsorships. SXSW is sponsored by companies like Chevy, Monster Energy Drinks, Pepsi, Doritos, American Airlines, Miller Lite, etc. I don’t know how much money they pour into it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Scrooge McDuck could swim around in it.
Actually, none of that would be all that bad if they didn’t then gouge the ever loving fuck out of you for the price of admission. The absolute least you could pay for a badge for just the music portion of the festival was $625. That’s if you planned waaaay ahead and bought it in early September. Today, a music badge will cost you $795, and an all access platinum badge will cost a completely insane $1595.
I can’t find figures on how much of a profit SXSW makes (to be honest, I didn’t really look all that hard.) According to Wikipedia, though, “SXSW is the highest revenue-producing event for the Austin economy, with an estimated economic impact of $167 million in 2011.”
Of course, that money being injected into our economy is good for Austin as a whole, and particularly the music venues who do a huge amount of business during the week in question. They’re not seeing any of that $1600 badge money, though. I suspect Most of that $167 million has to do with people coming in from out of town and spending their money at bars, restaurants, and hotels, and they’d probably make even more money if more people came to town because the badges were actually affordable.
The 2500 or so independent bands who this festival would be absolutely nothing without? They mostly play for free. They have the option to get $250 (really $210, if you consider the $40 you spent to submit) or get wristbands that get them into the official events for free. Being music fans themselves, I suspect a strong majority of them take the wristbands, and I suspect the organizers count on this, as it costs them nothing at all. If you’re an Austin based band, $250 isn’t bad for one gig. If you’re from out of state, or better yet, another country, you’re probably taking a loss, maybe a really big one, to help make these people lots and lots of money. Fuck that.
But what about the enormous exposure opportunity? You can’t put a price on that, right? Yeah, here’s the thing…. In the last 10 years, how many bands who were complete unknowns do you think got signed to a major label because of a SXSW performance? The answer (and even this is probably debatable) is 3. They were Hanson, John Mayer, and James Blunt. Think your quirky, original band is going to get spotted by some record executive? Good luck with that.
Really, if you’re just 3-5 guys in a van booking gigs yourselves, you’re better off booking a bunch of unofficial shows during the week, especially since scoring an official showcase means agreeing not to play any other night time shows all week. Even then, though, you may play to 100 people or 5 at any given gig, and those people just saw 40 bands yesterday, and they’re going to see 200 more in the next few days, probably while pounding beers the whole time. If you don’t light yourself on fire on stage, odds are that they won’t remember you, even if they really liked you at the time. I did mention I’m a cynical prick, right?
Anyway, look, if you think it’s the most fun you have all year, go for it. It’s a good thing for Austin overall, and there’s plenty of stuff to do that doesn’t require a $1600 badge. I just find the idea of a festival that depends entirely on independent artists to make a huge profit, but then doesn’t pay most of those artists anything at all unsavory at best. Plus, I prefer my beloved Red River district sans giant throngs of L.A. douchebags, but that’s just me.
*Note* This is from our friend Frank’s blog who gave us permission to share it. It pretty much explains SXSW from a struggling local artist point of view. Frank plays with the awesome nerd themed punk band The Millipede.
Find them at:
The Great Art Scare is less than a week away! Here are some links where you can hear some music from bands that will be performing, see art from the artists, and more!
The majority of the Art Exhibitors will have their art for sale at the show. OMBG will have a booth set up with stuff for sale as well as some give away items. Many of the performers will have merchandise and other goodies for you as well! Be sure to come out and celebrate independent art with us!
October 9, 2012 (Austin, TX) - Greetings one and all!
TEFLON BEAST FALL/WINTER NEWS
September 18, 2012 (Austin, TX) – Greetings one and all!
We have some exciting releases to announce that will finish out our 2012 year. Coming first in Oct. (Pre-sale available now) is a funky & freaky split digi-only release featuring the classic “singles” of the Netherverse and new avant-electro compositions by Gary Busdriver.
Netherverse is a mysterious band whose origins date back almost twelve years to the suburbs of Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX. The group held secret meetings to make films, write poetry, and record music at a furious, nearly weekly pace. Over the years Netherverse has had some nineteen members, but largely the group consisted of three or four main collaborators. Their names and biographies are a matter of some conjecture, but in the end creativity was their only unifying rule. They recorded nearly half a dozen complete albums in their time, yet not one is currently in print. We at TBR hope to change that. For now, we are releasing songs considered too groundbreaking to even find a home on an album. These songs are too weird to even be listened to!
Gary Busdriver has had a busy 2012. He’s been trying different recording methods, different instrumentation, and different rooms all over Austin, TX to find his ultimate vision. His latest compositions are constructed around keyboard manipulations making for some very “out-there” electronic soundscapes. Busdriver’s currently recording and album of guitar improvisations…to be released spring 2013.
In November we’re pleased to announce a compilation of recordings by Italian (by way of the UK) artist/musician, Year of the Lips. Titled Cannon Street Road’s Feedback Rituals, YotL’s guitar torture compositions will be a must hear for shrieking GEE-TAR fanatics. We’re excited to unleash this monster.
Finally, in December NYC band Arklight will be releasing their first forays into “pop/rock.” A noisy-art band by trade, Arklight has started writing songs and, appropriately enough, they’ve titled their album The Beginners. The full-length album gathers some of the band’s best new recordings to showcase their interest in exploring the “out-there” aspects of the three-minute song.
Join us as we end 2012 in high-minded low-brow wickedness. What does 2013 hold for us? You’ll just have to stay tuned for trips into the cosmos, ear-bleeding country, and audio-verite.
Thanks for listening!
Teflon Beast Records
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Friday AUGUST 17, 2012 is the date – Mathias Isassi (Singer/Songwriter, Performer, Producer) is once again bringing together great, up and coming, independent musical acts, alongside regional art and local vendors of the South Texas town known as Kingsville, to
celebrate and let others get a taste of the culture of where we call home. Such an event of grand enthusiasm and inspiring efforts shows just what great motivation and strong will can drive – a happening with huge potential to grow, and evolve into something extraordinary that will prove to be of great importance to the Texan culture of its deep-south. Under his soon to be venue name The Old Folk House, Isassi will continue what he’s set out to do since 2010, and that is to bring music and art from afar close to home and encourage local support and collaboration within the community, which would include hosting live shows, open-mics, art exhibits, house concerts and festivals such as this one – The King’s Showcase II.
“I dream of a place where people of the local creative scene can gather, meet and mingle amongst each other – collaborating on work or sharing opinions, maybe even helping one another with anything from fliers and merchandise, to website design or tour planning; a place
where artists and enthusiasts alike can form as one and collectively celebrate such a feeling of togetherness and that simple aspect of LIVING.” – Mathias Isassi This year’s music line-up will be spectacular with local acts such as Hanging a Horse Thief, K-RECK, and Abandoned Experiment, plus plenty of others like A Growing Menace, Poor Favor, Stout City Luchadores, Corpus Gold, Ifrum Noj and more. Beau Walker – inductee to Texas Country Music Hall of Fame will be playing a set as well, along with other solo artists
blessing us with their presence – those including Clarissa Serna, David Martinez, and Melissa Engleman. Mathias Isassi plans on performing a set after the entire event is over, which in fact will include several guest appearances. Make sure and get your tickets today folks! $5-$10
Last festival, with nearly 200 attendees and 15+ bands and performers, was a huge success and this year’s will be even better, and it won’t stop just there – future events are already in planning! This year we prospect an attendance of 500 with 20 bands on 2 stages and lots of
great vendors. This is all thanks to the beautiful mind of Mathias himself and his great friends, family and circle of ever-so resourceful, talented, and respectable people whom make home, HOME.
*FREE WATER* **B.Y.O.B.** – LAWN CHAIRS & BLANKETS WELCOME – Coverage of the festival provided exclusively by Old Man & Bitter Girl Podcast, Graphics & Merchandise provided exclusively by InVision Graphics, Main Stage sponsored by Precision Painting, Generator sponsored by Chris & Son’s Pool Service, Games & Recreations sponsored by D&C Amusement, Live Sound & Lights provided by Dave’s Music.
For More Information Visit: www.theoldfolkhouse.com -OR- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Comics Corner by Thurm
Today we’re gonna talk about Saga #5. It’s written by Brain K. Vaughn (the dude that did Y: The Last Man, and also wrote a little bit of a tv show called Lost. . .you might have heard of it) and drawn by Fiona Staples. Issue #5 continues to flesh out the story, and it’s just as good (if not better) than previous issues. Seriously, this book just keeps getting better. In this issue, our story starts to really come together, and you can finally see how all of these characters we’ve been getting to know for the last four issues are going to end up on a collision course.
Yet to be determined column title. . .
Wherein I review a comic book that came out this week. Sometimes it’ll be something that I’m reading at the moment, and sometimes it’ll be something I just decide to try on a whim. This week, let’s talk. . . .
Spider-Men is a five-issue limited series that brings together Spider-Man (Peter Parker, the regular old Spidey you know and love) and the Ultimate Universe version of Spider-Man (Miles Morales, the new kid). Previously, Parker found himself sucked into this alternate Ultimate Universe, met Miles during the obligatory “let’s fight and then be friends” scene, and then was about to find out if he was supposed to be dead here when Mysterio (or something like him, read on) blew their helicopter out of the sky.
Now, this being issue #3, it pretty much does it’s job. It wraps up Act II, in which the two Spider-Men have to deal with the threat of a Mysterio avatar or robot or some such that Mysterio is actually controlling via virtual reality, and sets the stage for Act III in which Peter Parker learns how he dies in this alternate universe and ends up going to see Aunt May and Gwen Stacy, who are understandably shocked by his presence. The bulk of the issue itself is a long battle sequence between the Spideys and Mysterio, and it’s pretty awesome. . .
. . . based in large part on the wonderful art of Sara Pichelli. I had heard the name and was aware of her as a penciller, but this is the first book I’ve really followed with her art, and it’s just superb. We all know how much better comics are when the art is really really good, and it’s one of the best parts of this book, month in and month out. The battle revolves around Mysterio creating the illusion of all of these villains fighting the Spider-Men, and therefore we’re treated to Pichelli’s versions of Venom, Hulk, Lizard, et al and it makes for great comics. And the second half of the book, featuring Peter Parker Spidey in a convenience store, and the emotion of the end of the issue, is just as awesome and enjoyable. The art here is just that good, and has failed to disappoint at any time.
Speaking of this second half, it’s the beginning of our Act III, when Parker learns how he dies in this universe. Really, there’s not much story here til the second half, as the first half is just a big fight. Kinda “by-the-books” crossover stuff, but I’ll let it slide. Bendis has handled Parker’s whole “is this real?” sensibility pretty well in this book thus far (with Mysterio in the mix, you never really know), and this is the moment it’s all been leading to since he found out that everyone here seems to know that Peter Parker was Spider-Man and he might be dead. Three issues in and Parker still doesn’t really know if this is all reality or just some sort of head trip, but when what should be his apartment is a convenience store, it starts to come together. There’s a classic Spidey scene where the clerk asks if he’s going to buy something, and he points out he has “No pockets. No money.” and then asks the clerk if her iPad has wi-fi, foils a robbery attempt in the next three panels, and then asks if the iPad gets a signal in the building without missing a beat. It reminded me of reading Spidey when I was younger, and makes for a fun read. But, it then turns pretty serious as Parker learns the truth and the issue ends with a stunned May and Gwen when Peter shows up on their doorstep.
Notice I said Parker learns the truth; the reader doesn’t. It’s just supposed to be understood (though it may be fleshed out in the next issue), and since I wanted to know how Spidey died, I had to go visit the Ultimate Spidey Wikipedia page. Truth is, this series has really intrigued me as to this Miles Morales kid and what he’s got going on as Spider-Man in the Ultimate Comics universe. Not intrigued enough to go buy the books (maybe a volume one trade or something), but I like the fact that he has a slightly altered power set and seems to be really doing his own thing. But this has been Peter’s story from the get-go, and I’ve liked that about it. If you’re a fan of both books, chances are you’re just loving this series, but it’s been accessible enough for people like me who hadn’t read an issue of anything Spider-Man is years, and it’s been quite good to boot.
In summary, the story moves right along after the big battle scene, and is entertaining and funny in true Spidey fashion, and the art is just ridiculous. Given our ending here, business will certainly be picking up in issue #4, and we’ll start to get into what it’s like to be in a world where you’re supposed to be dead and everything is changed (keep in mind, there’s really no way of knowing if Peter can ever go back to his reality, though I’m sure it’ll work out). In fact, every issue has left me looking forward to the next, and isn’t that what comics are supposed to do on some level? I give it four stars out of five.