armchair cultural observation since 1995

SXSW a ‘Times Square billboard-sized commercial’


This month would mark my sixth consecutive trip to Austin for the sprawling industry feeding frenzy that is SXSW. It would be the sixth time I’d shell out hundreds of dollars to trek the 1,800 miles from my home in Minneapolis down to Austin, the sixth time I’d pile into an overpriced hotel room with five or six of my music-loving pals, and the sixth time I’d spend 20 hours a day racing up and down Sixth Street and blogging every sight and sound into my laptop while hunched over, sleep-deprived and slap-happy.

Emphasis on would, because this year I’m not going. I’m not going to do it. And it’s not just because the thought of going through all those motions again makes me want to take a week-long nap. It’s because, even in my relatively short time attending the 27-year-old festival, I can’t help but feel that it has strayed far away from its original premise as a grassroots gathering place for new, undiscovered talent and increasingly feels like a big ol’ Times Square billboard-sized commercial.

-Andrea Swennson, in an article for NPR titled “Why I’m Not Going To SXSW This Year

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