SXSW 2012: Day 1 – Initial Impressions and Oberhofer at Hype Hotel – 13th March 2012

By on Wednesday, 21st March 2012 at 2:00 pm

Tuesday at South by Southwest (which will henceforth be referred to as SXSW) is similar to Roskilde and other festivals in that it’s the calm before the storm. People are settling in to the rhythms (no pun intended) of their new surroundings. That said, after you’ve spent most of your day travelling to “the Live Music Capital of the World” (yes, Austin have trademarked that as their official motto), you owe it to yourself to catch some shows. Committing to a lighter schedule in the midst of your jetlag is the way to go.

And this is probably good advice, as I was told Tuesday is the day most people come to claim their badges and wristbands. As explained in the preview, wristbands are really only supposed to be going to locals with Austin billing zip codes, though unfortunately I could overhear people about badges and wristbands being sold under the table or swapped based on physical appearance, e.g., “I’m looking for a blonde who will buy my badge at half-price”. (I know how desperate some people are to see certain bands. But seriously, not cool.) I was stood in line with hundreds of others in the wristband line. When you’re jetlagged, you’re tired and cranky. Props to the convention centre staff who were giving out bottles of water and bags of Doritos to keep folks from going postal.

I don’t know what happened but I guess the festival pass gods were looking favourably down on me, as I managed to be directed to the fastest moving wristband line and got wristbanded up and my camera tags for press on my equipment in less than 3 hours, so I’m not complaining. But be forewarned, prepare to queue everywhere – for credential pick-up, to get into venues, to get free tacos, etc. Come to think of it, I must have RSVPed to a bunch of brunches, breakfasts and lunches and I don’t think I got any free food, except from the kind woman at the door for the Music from Ireland Irish breakfast Friday morning at B.D. Riley’s who realised I was good people when I explained I’d seen the Northern Ireland showcase on Wednesday night. (Cheers Angela.) I’ll stop moaning now, as I’m sure you want to hear about the bands I saw on day 1…

After a relaxing dinner with a PR friend, we headed over to the Hype Hotel (venue sponsored by the Hype Machine) on Trinity. He had his wristband but I didn’t, so I expected a massive queue like all the others I’d seen around town. Again, I had unusually good luck, as when we asked security on a side entrance if that queue wrapped around the block really was where I was supposed to go, he handed me what I needed and shooed us inside. The Hype Hotel has a very cool vibe; it looks a bit like a warehouse, but it has amazing brick overhangs that give it character. The stage was big but not too big; it reminded me a bit of the Music Hall of Williamsburg except there wasn’t a balcony.

Sneaking in through the alternate entrance and effectively skipping the queue, we were able to catch most of Oberhofer’s exuberant set. Upbeat and full of energy, this was a great band to stick my toes into the water of SXSW, and good timing too: I saw Paul Lester just wrote about the Brooklyn band on his New Band of the Day feature last week, so now I can say, “nyah nyah, I saw them at SXSW and you didn’t!” But no, I’m too polite to be that obnoxious. But trust me, there were plenty of people I ran into who were doing just that and wanted me to dissolve into tears because I hadn’t seen Bruce Springsteen. (I’ve never been a massive fan of his, so missing him entirely didn’t faze me one bit. British indie bands, please!) I don’t really get jealous of this kind of person, as I’ve been incredibly fortunate to see the bands I have in all my years of blogging. I just laugh at them in my head.

More photos (and in higher resolution too!) are available on my Flickr here. Stay tuned for much more coverage of SXSW 2012 in the coming days.

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[…] last year’s Hype Hotel where I’d spied Oberhofer as my first SXSW band ever, the place that had oozed character with brick archways, this year’s at the Whitley was more […]

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