I started writing YHT shortly after attending SXSW in 2011. Ironically, I wasn’t there for the music. I was part of a group of coworkers who attended the event’s Interactive wing, which wrapped up just as the music festival was getting ready to start in earnest. Boy, was walking through the Austin–Bergstrom International Airport on our last day painful. While we were sauntering toward our departure gate, people holding guitar cases were walking in the other direction, bringing the “two ships passing” metaphor to life in an exceedingly unwelcome way. I wanted to be on their boat! I even tried taking mental snapshots of their faces, thinking (either optimistically or naively) that they’d soon be famous as a result of their SXSW performance(s), and I wanted to be able to say “I saw [him/her/them] at the airport at SXSW!”
I’m whining, but the truth is that the Interactive conference was incredible.
I’d call it life changing, even, because I wouldn’t have started writing this blog had I not gone to SXSW, and this blog has, without a doubt, changed my life. It wasn’t even that I attended a Music Blogging Made Easy panel — I credit, vaguely but totally sincerely, the creative energy I felt while I was there. Leading the discussions were all these people who had believed in themselves and made something. Podcasts, games, social networks — all things that had started out as ideas and had gone on to touch people’s lives in some way. It struck me that these people weren’t magical or fundamentally different — the term “creative class” makes me want to throw a brick at something or someone — they just had confidence and follow-through. Good, old-fashioned moxie! I took pages and pages of notes, tried to catch as many panels as I could and asked tons of questions. (LOL yeah right I avoid speaking up at all costs in situations like that. A panelist’s hair could be catching fire and I’d still wait for another audience member to say something. So much for confidence. I did take a shit-ton of notes though.)
Another reason I shouldn’t whine about my SXSW experience is that I did get to catch some live music where I was there. The group I was with stopped by a bar on 6th Street that was hosting a sponsored party, and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart went on not long after we walked in. I didn’t know much about the band at the time, but I knew enough to know that I was lucky to have blindly stumbled into the situation. They were just about to release a new record, Belong, and we got to hear a few of those new songs. I even posted a video from their set in my third post as a newly minted music blogger. (Check out that awesome vertically oriented iPhone video! What cinematography!)
It doesn’t look like Pains is playing this year’s festival, which kicks off today, but they are prepping another spring release. The follow up to Belong is called Days of Abandon (April 22) and the taste we’ve been given would suggest that good things are in store. I liked a lot of Belong, but “Simple And Sure” may be my new favorite track of theirs. It’s bright and unfettered, though the best descriptors for the song may very well be the ones that are right there in the title. Check it out below and click here to buy it on iTunes.
[Correction: Pains were scheduled to play Stereogum’s SXSW day party, but it’s either being moved or canceled due to the horrible accident that took place outside the venue. What an awful turn of events. Whoever you are, wherever you are — please don’t drink and drive. Please.]