I realised this week that 2014 marks my ten year anniversary of SXSW. Back in 2004 I headed to this music festival and conference in the year before I started doing overnighters at triple j. I came because I’d heard it was a place where you can run from bar to carpark to record store to vacant lot and find your new favourite band. Major streets were closed off, and a hungry party atmosphere filled those few city blocks in Austin, Texas.
The first visit, with fellow music lovers and community radio mates Tamara and Ryan.
A lot has changed at this festival since that first visit, but that core feeling still exists. I still get butterflies as I roll into another SXSW Music Conference, thinking about all the incredible moments I’ve witnessed something I had no idea existed, and wondering which of those will fill my heart, feet and head this year.
Over that decade I’ve been covering the festival for triple j, and I’ve felt incredibly lucky to be able to. I’ve seen some mindblowing performances, I’ve met new artists on the cusp of becoming stars…
Meeting sweet fellas MGMT a month before their debut made them stars.
Up close with Bon Iver, as he gathered attention in 2008.
Grimes in 2012. A year before, I watched her perform to 3 people in a carpark.
Bemused by my meeting with Tyler the Creator, 2011.
Posing like schoolchildren with Chvrches, who would see out the rest of 2013 with a heap more fans than they started with.
And I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and have wonderful conversations with some of my musical heroes.
A secret interview with Justin Vernon about the anticipated second Bon Iver record. He only did two shows at SXSW 2011: one with his old school mates, and one with Kanye.
Being charmed by Jack White, after our interview on his solo debut.
Meeting a hero, Kim Deal, to talk new Breeders records, in 2008.
I convinced an unwell James Mercer to chat with me about The Shins new album after he cancelled all other interviews in 2012. He kindly obliged. The hustle muscle reaches full effect during SXSW Music.
This year? Who knows what it’ll hold.
My dance card is filled with everyone from BANKS to Eagulls, Pusha T to Asgeir, Cloud Nothings to Sohn, Future Islands to Ratking, Jungle to Wet. That’s the beauty of this beast. The discovery. But you know I’ll bust a gut finding you the bands that everyone else will be catching onto, in six months time. Keep an eye across the blog every day this week to get the first word. I’ll be tweeting like a mad dawg all week too, from @triplejmornings and Instagramming lots of pics of bands and food (of course) from @zanrowe.
And while I’ll try not to cause too much FOMO, know that you can experience some of SXSW from wherever you sit right now. The Fader Fort always has a killer line-up and streams all of their live performances from here. Jimmy Kimmel is coming live from SXSW all week, if you have the means to watch his show, too.
This town in Texas has been good to me over the the last few years..
Me and Captain Bad Ass in 2005. Good hat Zan.
Interviewing James Murphy (or is he interviewing me?) during happy hour at a Cuban restaurant. Note to self: not a good idea for radio interviews.
Meeting the always classy Santigold for the first time in 2008.
Like I said, one of those lucky-to-be-here vibes. So be here with me.
See you in the throng.