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In most other aspects of my life, I'm not the type who makes spreadsheets, but somehow for SXSW minute-by-minute planning feels natural, even necessary.
JEFF LEVEN’S 2009 SXSW JOURNAL:
THE GRAND PLAN
Here We Go Again…
I used to feel silly emphasizing the marathon character of SXSW until I realized I wasn't alone in bracing for it. The week before the annual trek to Austin, people stay in a little more, get a little extra sleep, start popping vitamins, maybe even look for decent sneakers. This weekend as I fought to stave off that weird flu thing that seems to be going around, like several other people I know, there was an extra sense of urgency. Given that most years four solid days of SXSW tends to pummel me under the weather, I simply can't start that way.

Beyond the physical training, of course, is the logistical planning. In most other aspects of my life, I'm not the type who makes spreadsheets, but somehow for SXSW minute-by-minute planning feels natural, even necessary. There is, of course, a school of thought that acknowledges it's hard to maintain even the best-mapped schedule, but the inevitable entropy of the thing has never stopped me from pretending that the map matters. In some ways there's a joy in digesting all the offerings, surveying the scope of the bands that are there, and window-shopping even some things that you'll inevitably be jammed 12 blocks away from ever seeing.

Making the schedule this year, a painstakingly slow process that involves consultation with a few of the industry's finest sources: Conqueroo publicity-whiz Cary Baker's day party bible, Downtown/Mercer/RCRD LBL A&R hitter Michael Howe's well-compiled schedule, Atlantic hotshot Mollie Moore's carefully-crafted party matrix - what was most interesting was that this year offers fewer of the "received celebrity" bands than years past. Most years you can pinpoint about 3-6 bands that play 9 times at the most exclusive events, will inevitably wind up in almost every write-up, and generally launch their first career victory lap with a jaunt around Austin. Some, like Amy Winehouse or The Killers, quickly justify the hype commercially, while others fade more quickly or take longer to ramp up. While there are clearly bands like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and The Airborne Toxic Event that will receive some extra attention this year, there's room for a few surprises, which is refreshing to say the least.

While the field is more open, there will be a few megastars in Texas this year. By now, pretty much all of Metallica's faithful have sussed out that the nice long Guitar Hero timeslot at Stubb's just might feature a performance. Meanwhile, another high-profile LA band's reunion will continue with a secret show. Plus, there are even rumors of a U2 stunt appearance (not confirmed at press time)!

Los Angeles, in particular, has an amazing showing this year, with a slew of great bands ranging from bands like Local Natives, Castledoor, Honey Honey and The Happy Hollows, to The Silversun Pickups, who will debut their excellent new album Swoon. I had the pleasure of interviewing the band for Paste magazine (a side hobby when I'm not repping bands) recently, and this SXSW marks their welcome return to the stage.

Interesting, also, is the ascendance of a strong Georgia presence at SXSW. Aside from burning hot rockers Death on Two Wheels, the stunningly creative Janelle Monae and hip-hopper Dallas Austin, indie acts such as Maserati, Black Lips, and Dead Confederate have come to transplant the 40 Watt to 6th St.

As with every year there are some hard choices. For me, having grown up in Texas and having attended SXSW as a fan in high school, actually having clients play the festival parallels the general realization of the dream of a life in music, which makes the week that much more thrilling. But the soft obligation to make as many clients' shows as possible also has the effect of boxing me out from a few bands I'd love to see, including the sinewy Maps & Atlases, Tori Amos' late-announced stop at La Zona Rosa, and, perhaps a chunk of the Flower Travellin' Band's set (more on that below). Plus, as a new parent, the opportunity cost of missing a week with my son Dylan weighs heavy and makes the whole venture more of a sacrifice than it was in the days when this was just spring break in Shinertown. Still, I can't deny the fact that this is my favorite non-family week of the year, and one of the best annual doses of pure music you could ever hope for. So I dive into the set times and keep weaving the web.

In any event, after hours of slogging through schedules, guesstimating (overly optimistically I'm sure) travel times, and slugging vitamins in anticipation, I finally came up with a loose schedule which I promptly sent to a couple hundred of my closest friends:

_________________________________________

Hey everyone,
So SXSW is once again upon us (cacophonous cheers)!!!! As promised, or for those of you who at least feigned interest, below is my hour-by-hour mega-matrix for the festivities. I will be reachable at all hours by blackberry email or on my cell - 310-388-7048. I rent a car and am not afraid to pile nine people in it to go to one of the parties in the sticks :)
Before I go into all the schedule details, though, let me quickly highlight my clients who are performing (alphabetical order):
________________________________________
Crash Kings: http://www.myspace.com/crashkings

In a nutshell: Galvanizing pop/rock trio with dizzying instrumental skill, great songs and charm to spare. Signed by Linda Perry/Sylvia Rhone to Custard/Motown. Recently wrapped debut album with Dave Sardy (Oasis, Jet, Wolfmother, you name it), to be released in May! Building on the energy and ingenuity of their earlier demos, the new album has a thrilling swagger and showcases the band's incredible range. Best of all, the live show is utterly stunning - one of the best you'll ever see.

Shows:
Wednesday, March 18th
Swing House Party @ The Rusty Spurs/Black And Tan
405 E. 7th Street
5:30pm

Friday, March 20th
Worlds End/Playing In Traffic Showcase
Maggie Mae's Gibson Room (6th)
10pm

Saturday, March 21st
Troubadour Saloon
506 East 6th Street
2:25pm
___________________________________________
Dizzy Balloon: http://www.myspace.com/dizzyballoon
In a nutshell: Ultra-fun Bay Area up-and-comers with serious but subtle chops. Voted onto Live 105 Xmas show with Killers, Death Cab, Bloc Party, etc. Recent shows include Noise Pop appearance with the Matches and LA run with the Jakes, as the band has built an energetic, dedicated CA fanbase. With an absolutely infectious live energy and one great hook after another, Dizzy Balloon get you smiling from ear to ear.

Shows:
Thursday, March 19th
Red Gorrilla
Paradise
10pm

Friday, March 20
SFxSXSW
The Wave
2pm
_________________________________________________
The Henry Clay People: http://www.myspace.com/thehenryclaypeople
In a nutshell: The kind of music music lovers love to love, HCP combine elements of classic rock (the Boss, the Stones) and classic indie rock (Replacements, Pavement, Built to Spill) into an irresistible cocktail. With the right amount of alcohol in you (or the band) it's the most fun live show you'll see for months. Currently on tour with Airborne Toxic Event, Alberta Cross and Rademacher and playing an anticipated Spaceland residency in April (including a shows with Mike Watt and the Broken West), Esquire magazine has already named HCP one of the ten bands to watch at SXSW this year: http://www.esquire.com/
the-side/music/sxsw-2009-best-bands-031009


Shows:
Wednesday, March 18th
The Paradise (401 E. 6th Street)
set time: 1pm

Thursday March 19th
Dog and Pony Show Party w/Vetiver and more
Opal and Devine's Firehouse (700 W. 6th Street)
set time: 4pm

Aquarium Drunkard/My Old Kentucky Blog Party w/Roadside Graves, Le Switch, The Grates and more
Peckerheads (402 E. 6th Street)
set time: 5:00pm

LA Record's SXSW Showcase
The Independent (501 N. 1-35)
set time: 10pm

Friday March 20th
Hot Freaks Party w/The Wrens, Hold Steady, Rosebuds and more
The Mohawk (outdoor stage)
912 Red River
set time: 2pm

Little Radio Party w/Horse Feathers, Great Northern, White Denim and more
Red Eye Fly
715 Red River
set time: 3:30pm
___________________________________________

Monte Negro: http://www.myspace.com/montenegrorocks
In a nutshell: Mind-blowing mix of alternative rock, reggae, punk and rock en espanol. With part of the band born in Mexico, but raised in LA, Monte Negro makes explicit the cross-cultural connection gestured at by bands like Rage, the Mars Volta, Jane's Addiction, etc., and like the Clash before them, Monte Negro's internationalist vision is infused with both ambition and a sense of humanity. The band's debut album "Cicatrix" came out on Epic in August '08. For a sense of what the shows are like: http://futuresounds.blogspot.com/search/label/Monte Negro

Shows:
Thursday, March 19
BMI Showcase
Maggie Mae's
11:15pm

Friday, March 20
Mexic-arte Museum (Congress)
2:45pm

Saturday, March 21
Greetings from Austin Party
Ace's Bar (6th Street)
2pm
_________________________________________
Ok, so if THAT's not enough, here is my planned overall schedule, which, as always, is aspirational, not necessarily geographically or physically possible and very much subject to change. Note the DSLH party as well as the Paste parties (I also write for Revolver these days as well).
Our firm has a couple dozen clients playing, too, so if you're at a loss for ideas, just hit me up over email and I can suggest a couple dozen other things to see. To run through just a representative handful: Death on Two Wheels, Daniel Martin Moore, Shiny Toy Guns, Passion Pit, Lissie Trullie, Cold War Kids, Local Natives, Kid Sister, Delta Spirit, Major Lazer, Diplo, Eli "Paperboy" Reed, Greg Camp, Miranda Richards, etc., etc., etc.

Also, just for the music geeks, you'll note there's a few particularly exciting reunion dates on here. Classic Japanese psych-rockers Flower Travellin' Band (featured on the cover of Julian Cope's sprawling Japrocksampler book) are in Austin, and then favorite Austin native sons The Arc Angels have reunited. Featuring Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon from Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble, the inimitable Charlie Sexton and Doyle Bramhall III, the Arc Angel's 1992 Geffen debut was one of the best blues-rock records of the early 90s (hell, probably ever), and now the band is back, playing SXSW before launching on a series of Royal Albert Hall dates with Eric Clapton! Rumor has it there will be another secret show this week for another much-discussed reunion, this one a band that defined alternative rock in LA and beyond. I'll leave it to your imagination ;)


Apologies if I seem to be missing your band/your showcase/your party,etc. I'll try to cover as much ground as humanly possible and am open to being redirected on the fly where it doesn't conflict with client and/or firm obligations. I also tend to try to catch stuff that won't come through LA - so if there's something I'm missing that will in the next few weeks/months, by all means let me know.
So the gameplan for now is:

Wednesday, March 18
9:30am Leave LA - Arrive Austin 2:35pm
3-4:30pm: SXSW check-in, etc.
4:40pm - Twin Atlantic (Mother Egan's)
4:30-5:15pm - Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Red 7)
5:30pm - Crash Kings (Rusty Spurs)
6:30pm - Dinner
7pm - The Golden Filter (Peckerheads)
8pm - Gallows (Emo's)
8:30pm - Death on Two Wheels (ASCAP - Dirty Dog)
9pm - Other Lives (Buffalo Billiards)
Or 9pm - Lissie Trullie (Red 7)
Or 9pm - M. Ward (Central Presbyterian)
9:40pm - Anathallo (Mohawk)
10pm - Vetiver (Emo's Jr)
10:30pm - Roky Erickson (Music Hall)
or
10:45pm - Dan Auerbach (Parish)
11pm - Miniature Tigers (Spiro's)
or 11pm - Avett Bros. (Stubb's)
1145pm - Glasvegas (Vice)
12am - Maserati (Soho)
1am - Rubber Kiss Goodbye (Latitude 30)
2am plus - Red Bull Moontower


Thursday, March 19
11am - 12pm Breakfast @ Guero's
12pm - Miranda Richards (Guero's)

12:30pm - Paste Party @Radio Room

1:30pm - 3pm - Lunch Meeting
320pm - Alberta Cross (Little Radio @ Red-Eyed Fly)
4pm - The Henry Clay People (Opal Firehouse)
5pm - The Henry Clay People (Peckerhead's)
5pm - Custard Cocktail party (Lanai)
6-8pm - Davis Shapiro Party at Shoreline Grill
8pm - Chikita Violenta (Music Gym)
8:30pm - Anya Marina (Parish)
9pm - Dirty Projectors (Emo's Annex)
10pm - Dizzy Balloon (Paradise)
10:30pm - Daniel Martin Moore (Radio Room)
11pm - Flower Travellin' Band (Smokin' Music)
11:15pm- Monte Negro (Maggie Mae's)
12am - Flower Travellin' Band (Smokin')
or
12am - Passion Pit (Emo's)
1am - Pigs in Zen @ Warehouse
or
1am - Local Natives (Central Presbyterian)
2am plus - Red Bull Moontower

Friday, March 20
11am - Little Steven speech (Convention Center)
12pm - David Garza (SESAC Day Stage)
or
12pm - Bedouin Soundclash (Troubadour Saloon)
12:30pm - Obits (Hot Freaks at Mohawk)
1pm - Little Boots (Emo's)
1:30pm - Titus Andronicus (Habana Calle 6)
2pm - Dizzy Balloon (the Wave)
2pm - The Henry Clay People (Mohawk)
2:45pm - Monte Negro (Mexic-arte)
3:30pm - The Henry Clay People (Red Eye Fly)
4:30pm - King Khan & The Shrines (Windish/Pfork - Emo's)
or
4:30pm - Arc Angels (Antone's)
or
4:30pm - Hold Steady (Hot Freaks @ Mohawk)
5pm - 6pm - Earthless w/ J Mascis (Habana Calle 6)
or 5pm - Ben Harper (SXSWLive taping)
6pm - Third Eye Blind (SXSWLive taping)
7pm - TOMBS (Room 710)
8pm - Year Long Disaster (Red 7)
or
8pm - Shiny Toy Guns (SXSW Live)
or
8pm - Kuroma (Aces)
9pm - Silversun Pickups (Stubb's)
10pm - Crash Kings (Maggie Mae's)
11pm - um, Metallica? (Stubb's)
or
11:10pm - Wino (Emo's Annex)
12am -Black Lips (Emo's)
or 12am - Gary Louris & Mark Olson (Momo's)
or 12am - Wovenhand (Spiro's)
1205 - Wolves in the Throne Room (Emo's Annex)
1am - Skeletonwitch (Red 7)
or 1am - Late of the Pier (Aces)
or 1am - Dredg (Buffalo Billiards)
or 1am - Sam Roberts (El Sol Y La Luna)
2am plus - Moontower

Saturday, March 21
12pm - SXSW Interview: The Hold Steady
12:15pm - Black Gold (Cedar Street)
1pm - Rachael Ray Party (Maggie Mae's)
2pm - Monte Negro (Ace's)
2:30pm - Crash Kings (Troubadour Saloon)
3pm - Shurman (Kenichi)
3pm - Arc Angels (Antone's)
5pm - Bronx (Waterloo Park - Mess w Texas)
520pm - Thermals (Waterloo Park - Mess w Texas)
6pm - Lucero (Waterloo Park - Mess w Texas)
730pm - Lex Land (Ale House)
8:20pm - Black Lips (Waterloo Park - Mess w Texas)
8pm - Telekinesis (Parish)
845pm - Razorlight (Stubb's)
9pm - Jeffrey Steele (the Ranch)
10pm - Cage the Elephant (Antone's)
or
10pm - Tinted Windows (SXSW Live)
11pm - Hot Leg (Emo's Annex)
12am - Janelle Monae (Vice)
1am - Marnie Stern (Central Presbyterian)
or 1am - Dredg (Emo's Jr)
2am plus - Vice? Moontower?

Sunday, March 22
Waterloo/Marsh/I-10
Crash Kings at Mink in Houston, TX

Monday, March 23
Vacation
In office and swamped Tuesday, March 24.

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