SWSW. . . Meanwhile, What Are We Doing?
Most of you probably know that SxSW just wrapped up down in Austin Texas. For those who do not SXSW is basically the city of Austin celebrating music and those who make music. To be specific, it is a set of interactive, film, and music festivals and conferences that take place every spring in Austin, Texas.
It is one extended party and involving several hundred if not thousands of bands and artists. You have the bands, and you have music business people. There is even corporate people considering various sponsorship options in regard to music.
If you go through the listing of bands at sxsw.com you see a good number of bands from NYC and Brooklyn listed. (It is interesting that folks make that distinction. I am not from NYC, I am from Brooklyn. . .) It is cool to see they made the trip down to Texas and participated.
One can debate the benefits of going down. You probably will not come back with either a record deal or a corporate sponsor, you never know, but regardless of that, you were part of something. The music scene there is celebrated. The cool thing is that it is a week which is about making music, about getting out there and making some noise. It is a week of celebrating music and musicians.
Meanwhile over here, and this is not the first time this has been said, we have nothing. Oh we do have stuff going on. This weekend in Yonkers is the Alice Cooper and Kiss Tribute Show. Nothing against Alice or Kiss or the tribute acts doing these shows, but we are talking to different leagues here. It just don’t compare to SxSW.
Alright, that is Yonkers. NYC proper has a few things going on. I am talking good shows featuring local talent that should be checked out. One of my favs, Do You See the Dark is playing Baruch College in the next week. The Dirty Pearls are doing a show at the Trash Bar in Brooklyn. Me Talk Pretty is doing a show too in the next few days. All good acts-good shows, and I am afraid they are all on the same night!
So there is stuff going on, but unlike Austin, which is swallowed up by the music, NYC and the metro area, swallow the music. It is just sucked up like a giant black hole-gone and forgotten. Have no doubt, the music scene is here and happening, and there are some gems to be found, but they get little respect, little attention.
Further, the institutions of the city are disappearing. The old clubs are gone, the CBs, the Continentals. When you talk to bands and artists, they want to get out of the city. NY might be the base of operations, but they want to come to Yonkers (yes even Yonkers. . .) and Westchester.
On the other hand, maybe that is New York. We all know someone who came with a dream and who got beat. It is not suppose to be easy. As Phil Lynott said, New York “is high rise, concrete and complex”. It is that much bigger, that much more challenging. It can and routinely does overwhelm. Maybe New York subscribes to Nietzsche’s Will to Power-it is going to throw everything it can in your way, and you will struggle, and if you succeed, well now you are talking!
Regardless of that challenge, it would just be cool if the music scene in NY had a bit of that spirit, a bit of that recognition found at SXSW. And maybe that is just not New York, maybe NYC is the town that to live and thrive here is a badge of recognition. The problem is I am not sure anyone is thriving. I just think NYC, Yonkers and Westchester are just not tuned in. They are busy in their cublicle listening to the peak and getting the lowdown on who the governor is banging today.