SXSW 2013 – The Music Starts Today

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Well, yesterday was the last of the serious stuff, and today the madness commences. I went to a couple of talks yesterday, but they weren’t that serious, and by the evening the music had kicked off in earnest and this morning I have my first official SXSW Stinking Hangover. Joyous.

Firstly, I dragged myself out of bed at 10am to see A Conversation With Nick Cave. I wouldn’t do that for just anyone, and for a while I wasn’t convinced I was going to get in, such was the queue. Fortunately young Ian was there before me and saved me a seat. A seat right behind the bloody projector, and as you can see from above the view wasn’t great. Thanks Ian.

Fortunately, that chair you can see in the tiny gap between the projector stand and those two heads is exactly where he sat, so it didn’t end up being all that bad, and the talk was awesome.  You’re not really looking to learn anything at this kind of thing, I guess, more just get a feel for what one of your musical heroes is really like. And in this case it turned out he was laid back, comfortable, permanently amused, and enjoying himself.

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I tend to put my foot down about standing in line for stuff, particularly at events like SXSW where there is always something fun happening somewhere else you could go to instead, but I made an exception for Matthew Inman from The Oatmeal and got into my second ludicrously long queue of the day (above) for his keynote speech.

He was funny. There wasn’t much in the speech you wouldn’t know from reading his website, so if you missed out you didn’t really miss much. Nevertheless he was an entertaining speaker, slightly hyper, but very engaging. He described himself during his talk as a stand-up comedian who works through the medium of comics, and that summed it up pretty nicely I think.

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Anyhow, after that I met Mrs. Toad for an early dinner. What with chasing from one queue to the next I realised I hadn’t eaten all day, so I was suddenly starving. We find we’ve formed quite a few nice habits early on in Austin – I suppose it helps you feel at home in a new city a little more quickly – and one of them, as of last year, is dinner at Truluck’s, above.

It’s over the top as hell, they have a piano player who plays along to a schmalzy backing track, utterly repellent blue cheese martinis, and a rather preposterous Art Deco interior. They even have a dish of prawns served over dry ice, so that there is a sort of bed of billowing smoke – it’s all a bit silly, but for some reason we love it. That ‘some reason’ might just be related to their awesome food, of course. The steaks are amazing. Unusually for America they are left alone as well, which is a relief, and served bloody with just some steamed asparagus. Perfect! And the crab claws are awesome too – the shells perfectly smashed, but the meat undamaged.

Anyway, after that, and swaying somewhat from excessive consumption of martinis and French red, we stumbled along to Latitude for the first of the British showcases. We caught Y Niwl (below), who were excellent, and someone else, and I think I said something stupid to Huw Stephens, and then the fog of booze descended completely. We got home somehow, but I am not sure how. And we did buy some strawberry laces from the garage, which is nice. And the whole crazy party doesn’t even really start until today…!

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