WMC 2009: Is SXSW Cannabilizing WMC?

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Kyle Munzenrieder
Kid Sister at Don't Mess with Texas during SXSW.
Before heading off to see Wavves (for the third time in 36 hours, as it turned out) an No Age (for the second time in 24), one of the last shows I saw at last week's SXSW was Kid Sister at the Don't Mess with Texas fest. Flanked by DJ duo Flosstradamus, the trio admitted that their voices were on its last legs after a week of partying and playing countless show, literally, giving credence to the meme that Winter Music Conference is getting South By's leftovers.

But, lets get it straight, while WMC has certainly taking a back seat to SXSW in the media, the two conferences couldn't be more different than the sun and the moon, or The Sun and The Neon Lights and "My Moon, My Man". WMC started in 1986 in Fort Lauderdale as an eighty person conference, a year later SXSW debuted in Austin, Texas with a whopping 700 person attendance. For the next decade and a half the dance-centric WMC and the indie-fied SXSW really didn't overlap. Then somewhere along the way someone started "playing Daft Punk to the rock kids," and in 2002 two dudes called the DFA resurrected dance-punk and produced a little song called "House of Jealous Lovers" for The Rapture, leading to a weird world of cross over dance acts, house remixes of punk bands, and all sorts of MP3-blog fuckery.

So yeah, there's a lot of overlap now. Fuck, even Ultra mainstagers Booka Shade and Deadmau5 played SXSW this year. Though, I didn't hear a peep about it in Austin, and can't even find a decent write up of the party anywhere on the internets. If you play SXSW and no one blogs about it, did you even make a sound?

But, as a certain blogger would say, it's probably important to some band's "personal brands" and aspirations of cross over success or whatever to play both conferences. I mean WMC isn't going to help some euro-DJs get paid to do some big money remix for a buzz band, and playing SXSW isn't going to lead to respect in Europe, and the lucrative DJ gigs that come with it. So until SXSW makes a Villalobos booking coup or gets the Belleville Three on one stage, I'm pretty sure WMC can tolerate a few Hype Machine favorites worn out by Austin, and still retain its status as the go-to American festival for dance music.

Anyway, for those of you who care, here's my badge-less, all free show SXSW experience contained in a graf and this photograph:

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Kyle Munzenrieder
Bruno Wizard of The Homosexuals during SXSW at Ms. Bea's.
I heard "So Bored" live four times, three times by Wavves, and once covered by the Vivian Girls, and wasn't bored once. The second time I saw Wavves, he was improptuly accompinied by some local guy who wandered in called "Sho' Nuff," who stole the show. King Khan and the Shrines even topped Sho' Nuff in terms of showmanship, and I am totally pissed I didn't see them earlier this month at The Vagabond. The only band I hadn't heard of before, who I came away excited by was Silk Flowers, who plays droned out electro with the occasional Kraut-riff or dub vocal. I saw No Age twice, and didn't have to go through any guest list bull shit ala Basel. Mika Miko I also saw twice, but only paid attention to once, but that's no diss. The highligh of the festival for me was seeing Bruno Wizard (the only man from the first wave to be too punk rock for punk rock who is still alive) and his revamped Homosexuals on the patio of some dive bar. He hugged me once, and moshed into me multiple times. I saw another "legendary" punk band, The Circle Jerks, but I just don't get it. I saw Camera Obscure (my twee quotient) and Efterklang, who are amazing. Dept. of Eagles was hungover and underwhelming, but Ed Droste was in the crowd, which was the most exciting "celeb" spotting for me, even though he's just some dude in a band. I was really pissed I didn't see Soft Circle, Telepathe, Beach House and Grizzly Bear, but what can you do? Then I ended my trip witnessing an impromptu '90s Euro-pop dance party that got shut down by the police, and an underwhelming show on a pedestrian bridge, though if I would have stuck around 'til 5 a.m. I would have heard "So Bored" at least two more times.

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