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The crushing reality of just how many people are here becomes apparent the first time you try to actually see anything.

DAY ONE DISPATCH FROM SXSW

HITS Correspondent Jeff Leven Gets Ready to Elbow His Way Through the Weasel Hordes

Starting the day with a pool party at a newish Austin high-rise that faces the river, you could almost forget where you were. At its best, Austin really is a form of prairie Riviera, green and rolling. In the off corners of town, the frenzy of Sixth Street seems like another city, which, in some ways it is. Of course, the crushing reality of just how many people are here becomes apparent the first time you try to actually see anything, and lines remain a real issue, particularly for some of the better attractions.

A triumphant 50 Cent set was at capacity last night, as was Harvest’s buzzing showcase at the Haven, which Carson Daly was actually filming. There was an early mob at the Hype Hotel, and by all accounts Coldplay’s set at the iTunes Festival wasn’t an easy ticket either. The good news is that an increasing number of the bigger shows are now being simulcast somewhere, begging the question as to whether SXSW may gradually morph into a virtual experience, at least for some.

This year, the overlay between Interactive and Music somehow felt less visible, in part because they are probably increasingly blurring into one. By and large most venues felt broken in already, but the once-obvious transition from people in Google Glass to people with neck tattoos seems to have muted.

Musically, an early highlight was a taut and ambitious set from the Colourist, an Orange County band that I discovered on local radio in Westchester, NY (where 107.1 The Peak is a nice side bonus to life in the ’burbs). Also impactful was Windhand, part of a new crop of metal acts that take the atmospherics of traditional doom but fuse them with some of the personalization of emo. While it wasn’t as packed as you might hope, the Pitchfork "Show No Mercy" event at the Mohawk was beautifully curated, and brought a taste of a good night at New York’s St. Vitus to Austin. Veering punkier, together PANGEA closed the night loose and raucous.

The first night’s always a bit of a warm-up, but before you know it you’re deep in the thick of it!!! Onward…

LIVE NATION SET TO REBOUND—AND SCORE
Rapino predicts a robust future. (5/7a)
iHEART'S IN REVENUE RECOVERY MODE
Digital's drive time. (5/6a)
TRILLER, SOUNDCLOUD LAUNCH PLATFORM INTEGRATION
A heartwarming virtual hook-up (5/6a)
A ZHU-PHORIC NIGHT
Vaxxed and masked, Nicole ventures out. (5/6a)
BROADWAY REOPENS THE BOX OFFICE
The Great White Way begins to repopulate. (5/6a)
RHYTHM, BLUES AND THE FUTURE
The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
WHO'S NEXT?
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
JUST THE VAX, MA'AM
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
WORLDWIDE GROOVE
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?
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