Tuesday, April 7, 2009

SXSW Part 6 - Day 4

Saturday got off to a somewhat inauspicious start. The shuttle was a no-show so I had to call the folks running the service to get one to swing by. The plan was to grab food before the day's festivities began, but I ended up not having time. So onto the...

12pm Quickie Session - "In the Studio." This turned out to involve highly technical discussions regarding recording equipment, the engineering process and the like - way over my head. When I posed questions that were specific to my situation and interests, I got some rather broadbased answers. Not too helpful.

For some odd reason, I was totally fried at this point, so I scrapped plans to participate in the Mentor Session, and picked up some much-needed nourishment. The Mentor Sessions were designed to offer an opportunity to speak one-on-one with a number of industry "experts," but I didn't even see anyone particularly intriguing on the list. Looked like a bunch of local Austin-ites.

At 3pm, I attended a panel discussion on fan-based marketing. A few interesting ideas were thrown out, but again, a little underwhelming. That did it for the seminar portion of SXSW. As you can tell from my comments, I was a little disappointed at the perceived value I got for my money, but I think time will have to tell. If even one of the little tidbits I picked up turns out to lead to something good, then it will likely all have been worth it.

Crashed for a few hours back at the motel and headed back downtown around 10pm. I couldn't for the life of me find anything that piqued my interest on the show schedule prior to the Third Eye Blind set, which was scheduled for 1230am. So I had some dinner at a Thai/Vietnamese restaurant, which was pretty good.

Got to Stubbs about 1145pm, which was about half hour into the Indigo Girls set. I caught the last 4 or 5 songs they played. Surprisingly enough, they were really good. I've never been a fan, and know practically nothing that they sing, but they sounded spot on. Glad I got there early.

After a riveting 50-minute equipment check, Third Eye Blind came on at 1250am. I have mixed feelings about this one. The songs of theirs with which I was unfamiliar (read: most of them) did not blow me away. A couple were decent. And I have to hand it to Stephan Jenkins; he's an undeniably charasmatic front man. I'd heard that they had a rabid following - even years after their commercial peak - and accordingly, the place was packed to the rafters. They did play "Jumper" and "Never Let You Go," which were probably the two lesser-known of their four hits. But continuing in the mind-numbing tradition of one-hit or few-hit wonders who seem to have an aversion to playing songs for which they are best recognized, they left out "Semi-Charmed Life" and "How's It Gonna Be." If you have fewer than seven hits or so in your entire career, your setlist shouldn't really involve that much guesswork. They're about to put out their fourth album. It's not like they've been around since 1972. Unless the set is otherwise blistering, this "hit neglect" automatically ruins the whole experience for me. Sure - the die hard fans knew the other songs. But there's a reason why these songs were hits - they were probably amongst your best. And there were several other fans expressing dismay when the lights came back up. You're there for the fans, not for you. Play the freakin hits. Especially when one was arguably one of the catchiest pop tunes of the 90's. GRADES: Indigo Girls B+/Third Eye Blind (A for stage presence), (F for setlist) - C overall

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