The music festival season us upon us! Every year, the festival circuit starts in the early spring. Austin, Texas’s South By Southwest (SXSW or “South-By”) is one of the first music festivals of the season.
Live Music Capital of the World
Being a huge Austin, TX fan (we used to drive the 7.5 hours from Baton Rouge, LA on the weekends to see friends and music fairly often. The quirky city was often referred to as the “live music capital of the world”), I’ve had SXSW on my radar for many, many years. I’m not really sure why I’ve never made it over there for the festival. I always seemed to prioritize Austin City Limits Music Festival, which is set up a lot like our perineal favorite, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest. ACL Fest is always a good time, but three days of summer Texas heat is a killer! Luckily, they’ve pushed the dates for ACL back to October (in years past, it was in September- one of the hottest months in the south).
Regardless, I’ve always heard such great things about South-By; that it’s more of a smaller, indie-focused festival (and there are also multiple components, such as the film festival and the interactive portion). This year, I had a four-fold reason for wanting to make it to the festival:
- Both of my sisters live in Austin
- I LOVE Austin and go there any chance I get
- I’ve always wanted to experience SxSW
- I don’t have kids…yet
Alas, the stars have not alined for me this year, and I am not able to make the trip for the March 12-17 music fest.
The Next Best Thing
Luckily, I currently live in “Music City”… Nashville, TN, which I have often heard compared to Austin in vibe and character. Cool musical opportunities constantly present themselves, like the FREE Official SxSW Festival Sendoff Party we attended last weekend at The Mercy Lounge and HiWatt Stage.
Ten bands (most representing Nashville) jammed on two different stages for five hours last Saturday, March 2nd. The free show was sponsored by Third Shift Amber Lager and No Country for New Nashville. The former also provided free and discounted beers to concert goers (first one free, then $2.50 thereafter).
There were two stages to choose from. We decided to hang around The Mercy Lounge stage, where we saw Luella and The Sun, Patrick Sweany, Wild Cub and The Protomen preform.
Luella and The Sun
And my favorite, The Protomen
There was no better way for a group of young adults to spend a Saturday night! I felt like, even though I was unable to make it to the festival this year, I got a good dose of what it would be like. And I’m keeping SxSW on my festival wish list. Maybe next year!
A list of 2013 music festivals can be found here.
Some of my past favorites include:
- Virgin Fest – October 5 (estimate), Columbia, MD. If you get your tickets early, this is a free festival. It was easy access while living in DC. We saw the likes of: Nine Inch Nails, The Beastie Boys, The Black Keys, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wu Tang Clan, Peter Bjorn and John, The Stone Temple Pilots (after reuniting), Velvet Revolver (before STP reunited), and many others.
- New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – April 26- May 5, New Orleans, LA. This was my first festival and will always be one of my favorites. The lineup is always great, and the food! You won’t find better food anywhere else on the planet! I love going home and reconnecting with friends and family at Jazz Fest! Some artists we’ve seen: Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Dave Matthews, Jimmy Buffet, Rebirth Brass Band….
- Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL)- October 11-13, Austin, TX. We’ve seen Bjork, REM, LCD Soundsystem, The Flaming Lips, Ween, Ghostland Observatory, Blonde Redhead, Bob Dylan, My Morning Jacket, Sonic Youth, Polyphonic Spree, Willie Nelson, Ben Kweller, Son Volt…..
- Voodoo Fest – November 1-3, New Orleans, LA. Here we saw STP and Ween, among many others.
- Bonnaroo – June 13-18, Manchester, TN. I wasn’t a huge fan of camping in the mud and heat for three days. Throw in some serious dehydration, and it was a bit of a disaster! We saw Trey Anastasio,Widespread Panic, Keller Williams, Les Claypool, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Umphrey’s McGee….
- H.O.R.D.E. Fest (none currently scheduled). The fest was started by The Blues Traveler. The first time I saw Ben Harper was here.
*These lists are not nearly inclusive enough of the many, many bands we’ve seen at these festivals. Frankly, some were just too long ago to recall (and I get a bit mixed up over who I’ve seen where or who I’ve seen at an independent show/concert). Apologies! But the gist is there.
Wish List Festivals:
- French Quarter Festival – April 11-14, New Orleans, LA. I’ve heard that this FREE festival is even better than Jazz Fest (in value, at the very least). My friends and family who live in New Orleans love to go and check out the amazing array of local musicians, and they say it is simply a blast. And it’s free (no-brainer). I plan on heading down there to check it out next month (and will report back, of course)!
- Hangout Fest – May 17-19, Gulf Shores, AL. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven past the venue for Hangout Fest, as a frequent visitor to the Gulf Coast beaches. I’ve never been to the fest, though. There’s been talk of making it happen this year…?? It’s pretty hard to beat live music on a white sandy beach!!
- Bonaroo – I’d like to give the fest another chance, since I’m living just down the street in Nashville. Plus, the lineup this year is pretty sweet: Bjork, Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, Wilco…!!!
- All Good Festival – July 18-21, Legend Valley, Thornville, OH. I think of jam-band types when I think of All Good. It’s on my list because I had friends who would go most summers, and I always like their lineup.
- Burning Man – August 26-September 2, Black Rock Desert, Nevada Q. What is Burning Man? A. Burning Man is an annual experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance. (citation)
- Jazz Fest (I always want to go!)
- Red Rocks – August 23- September 8, Phoenix, AZ. I’ve heard amazing things about the venue/setting. Plus, I’ve always wanted to check out the great state of Arizona.
I’m sure my wish list will increase/change as I’m exposed to more musical events and options. I tend to focus on festivals that are closer in proximity, for obvious reasons.
Expect more live-music related posts in the future, especially as I discover more about my new home, Music City!
Thanks for stopping by!