SXSW, A Newbie’s Diary: Day 1

By Brian Braiker

Mar 18, 2010 8:39pm

Woke up painfully early for the 6:45 am flight from Newark to Austin today to embark on my first trip to the musical wonderland and smorgasbord that is the South by Southwest Film & Interactive festival. 

Sure, the plane was overheated and overcrowded but there was plenty of buzz about the cabin. I counted more than one guitar in the overhead luggage space, while publicists, musicians and scenesters twittered (and Twittered) in their seats. 

But that was nothing compared the scene on the ground in Austin. Music is everywhere here. Wherever there’s a free space, someone will have set up a sound system and an impromptu stage. Bands fill the streets carrying loads of equipment — instruments, cameras — like hipster sherpas. 

I made my way to the Eastbound and Found party to see the Morning Benders. They’re a five piece from San Francisco, whose lead single, "Excuses," has a beautifully haunting sound. The San Francisco-based videographer Yours made a gorgeous video of the band and their friends (including Girls singer Christopher Owens, and John Vanderslice) singing along in a joint recording of the song. They went on at around 4 pm to an appreciative crowd, closing their airy set with "Excuses." 


The band that opened for them was the LA-based all-girl group Warpaint. They’re a little less animated than Morning Benders but they definitely had their groove on. The crowd was quite into it.

Tonight I’ll be heading to a Merge showcase show featuring She & Him (comprising willowy, winsome actress Zooey Deschanel and whisper-raspy folkster M. Ward).

Stay tuned. Tomorrow we've lined up a slew of interviews for Amplified (VV Brown, Morning Benders, Liars, Andrew WK). Meanwhile, Nick Diamonds from Islands will be playing the part of Dan Harris for our time here, tweeting from Austin as anchorman Dan was unavoidably detained in New York. 

– David Wharton (who will be Tweeting when he can at @whartonds)

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