Garth Brooks

At The Drive-In’s surprise appearance at Mohawk was just one of the moments that made SXSW 2017 memorable.

Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At The Drive-In. All photos by Dakin Hardwick.

Every year in mid-March, music nerds from around the globe gather in downtown Austin to test their ability to handle long lines, blisters, alcohol poisoning, and dead cell phone batteries. Why? To get that first scoop on the “it” band of the year? To luck into a once-in-a-lifetime music experience with their all time favorite band? Masochism? Shit, I don’t know. Every year I say it’ll be my last, but I keep coming back. Maybe it’s the barbecue for me. Maybe it’s Austin: the worst kept secret in Texas. Without the quirks and charm of Austin, this music festival would just be ordinary — and like every other year, SXSW 2017 was definitely not ordinary.

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32 bands in five days. My feet still hurt.

All Photos by Dakin Hardwick

For those who aren’t in the know, SXSW is a conference in Austin, TX. It’s a place where folks in the technology, film, comedy, and music worlds come together and share ideas. The music portion is the primary reason why I come down, because it gives you an opportunity to see a large amount of music, often crossing dozens of genres, all in intimate venues all across town. This year, I feel like I “took it easy” and managed to see 32 different bands during the week (I saw Lizzo and Bleached both perform twice. You’d want to, too, if given the chance).

Without further ado, here are my thoughts on all 32 bands that I saw, in venues ranging from a donut shop to a lakeside amphitheater.

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garth2Yes. You read that right. At approximately 4:30 PM on the 11th of November, Garth Brooks tweets this: “SURPRISE! Meet me @IndySF at 5:30 pm for a free #ManAgainstMachine listening party (Yes, really!) -love, g”.  It’s one of his very first tweets. I also had no idea what this really means. I mean, he’s one of the biggest stars in the history of popular music. When he tours, he does residencies at arenas. Even if it’s really just him sitting on a stool playing a CD of new songs, this is huge.

So I abruptly left work.

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How much would you pay to see these guys?

How much would you pay to see these guys?

This started with a Facebook post I made on my personal wall:

The cheap seats are $171 for The Rolling Stones at Oracle. $660 for the top price level (not including VIP which costs GKHM). Makes Prince look like a bargain.

 

To that, my friend and fellow blogger John Marcher of A Beast in a Jungle responded with a long post that started with the line, “Gordon, I want to debate this with you.” So over the next few days, we sent some emails back and forth doing just that, and getting into deep topics like whether career artists are truly artists. I promised him the last word, and he’ll have it between us. We do invite you, however, to post your thoughts in the comments.

John Marcher:

Gordon, I want to debate this with you. The prices are what they are, and they are fair. Is $250 too much to see Prince in a small venue? Absolutely not. He and his band deserve to paid for the show. The people setting up and tearing down the show deserve to get paid. They have to eat on the road and stay in hotels- and do you think Prince and his band are going to eat at fucking Mel’s Diner and stay at the Holiday Inn? [read the whole post]

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