The best and worst of SXSW 2009

23 03 2009

Phew! What a week! I’m running on a five-day hangover of too much loud music, booze, sun and everything else imaginable, and I gotta say, it was one of the best weeks ever. Here are my top highlights from the week:


photo by James Trevenen, Playboy

Best Show: Jane’s Addiction @ Playboy’s Rock the Rabbit. What business did Jane’s Addiction have playing SXSW, who cares, cause this show killllled. To top it off, it was in an abandoned grocery store and included complimentary Jack and a buffet. What’s not to love? I get that this award is supposed to go to some up-and-comer waiting to be discovered, but screw it, Farrell and Navarro deserve it.

photo by James Trevenen, Playboy

Best Showcase: Tie: SPIN Magazine @ Stubb’s BBQ/Village Voice @ La Zona Rosa. I’m sure there were a few showcases that could compete for this award line-up-wise, but my time spent at Stubb’s was enjoyable, despite how crowded it became for Echo & the Bunnymen. Stubb’s is a top-notch outdoor venue, Echo was fantastic and tallboys were free and easily accessible. Village Voice is up there, too, for the free Mexican food (seriously, damn good), as well as the lineup, which I unfortunately only caught half of (saw: Crystal Antlers and Cursive; missed: Gomez and M. Ward).

Best Venue: French Legation Museum. This outdoor space was absolutely lovely (and only a block from where we were staying!) — big, green lawn, trees, WAVVES beating a pinata. I didn’t have time to catch much live there, but the time I spent just hanging out felt perfect. Someone also shared with me the history of what the French Legation Museum actually is, but I may have been too drunk to remember …

photo by Jillian Mapes

Best SWAG: EB101 Earbuds and Altec Lansing speakers, courtesy of the AP gifting suite. Booyah.

Best Meal: Brisket sandwich at some off-the-beaten-path BBQ joint near our house. I have no idea what the name of this place was, and I have never in my life had such unreasonably slow service, but oh wells, it was worth it.


photo by Nick Jones

Best Drink: Tito mixed drinks @ mayor’s media welcome reception. They may have run out of BBQ, but the beverages were delish.

Most Efficient Bathroom Line: Levi’s FADER Fort. They were running that shit military style. Bravo.

photo by Nick Jones

Overall Best-Of @ SXSW ’09: I’d love to say that this was hanging with my best buds from New York, spending quality time with good friends from out of town and meeting tons of new people, or any one of the many nutty situations I found myself in, but in all honesty, it was having my wallet returned. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Austin Police Department, for all your help and understanding.

And now, the worst …

Worst Show
: As I think back on all the shows I caught this week, none stick out to me as particularly “bad,” but there was one singer/songwriter wailing off-key from a rooftop downtown that immediately made me wish he would shut up. And the fact that it’s STILL vivid in my memory must say something.

Worst Venue: iheartcomix/Jelly NYC showcase: This event was a ways from downtown (in a strip mall? I think?), in what had to be the worst setup at the fest. After hopping in a cab just to get out there, the line stretched for blocks, and after running into some friends on their way out, they said it was 20x worse inside and infested with teenagers. So without even bothering to check it out myself, I’m declaring this the worst of the week.

Worst Meal: Rachael Ray.

Worst Drink: Whatever they were serving @ Vice Party. Waaay too sweet. Being able to smoke inside was nice, though.

Biggest Regret: Missing Rye Rye. I heard nothing but positive buzz about Rye Rye all week, and every time I tried to catch her, I missed out.

Overall Worst-Of @ SXSW ’09: Losing my wallet. Durrr.  — Jill Menze

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