To compare it to another famous musical city, 6th street in Austin during SXSW is a combination of Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras. There’s an absurd amount of music being performed at all times along the popular downtown strip, but there are also thousands of people just milling about in the street, happy to do nothing more than drink and people watch.
Locals and those averse to crowds tend to avoid it, but the sheer spectacle is novel to out-of-towners like myself. Knowing that 6th street is the epicenter of all the SXSW music mayhem, I decided to try another experiential experiment: To take in at least a couple songs from every band playing an official SXSW showcase on Thursday night along 6th street between Congress avenue and I-35. Moreover, I would map out my route as a loop from one end to the other and back, hitting each venue in succession without regard to who was playing where or when (with one exception; more on that later). With 20 venues, I would have about 15 minutes at each stop keep on schedule.
The plan seemed ambitious but achievable, and with most venues of the small or mid-sized variety, it felt like keeping with the original spirit of SXSW: Discovering new and emerging artists of all genres and styles. My friend Scott and I embarked our mission at 8pm, fully expecting to hear a little bit of everything. Six hours later, “everything” felt like an insufficient word to characterize the breadth of styles we saw over the course of the night.
*Note: click on the artist’s name to hear a sample of their music, or for a full playlist with one song from each of them, click here.