Because no matter how vividly the writer describes the waves of revelers on Sixth Street, or the sounds of 50 clubs simultaneously exhaling cigarette smoke and guitar solos, the underlying message of the article is always a personal one: I was there, and it blew my mind. You missed it, because you are an idiot.
This, I think, is a shortsighted view on a very expansive festival. Because whether you made it to Austin or not, by virtue of living in a hipster mecca like San Francisco, you're going to be seeing it (and wearing it and listening to it) all soon enough. With the style purveyors of Brooklyn, Oslo, Omaha, London, etc., all on hand for the festival's four days, South by Southwest has become a sort of de facto hipster Model U.N.; an underground Constantinople situated squarely along the trade routes of cool. In the past, the Texas cabal brought us such essential glory moments as the return of the jean jacket (1999), the nonironic appreciation of gold-rimmed cop sunglasses (2001), the rebirth of garage rock (2003), and the widespread rollout of the Fleetwood Mac look (2004).
As you read this, there is a whole new set of hot topics coming to the Bay Area, fresh from the most recent Austin Accords. What trends are going to be washing up on our fickle shores in the coming months? Well, glad you asked. As a public service, SF Weekly offers you this sneak peek at the 2005 hipster playbook, courtesy of South by Southwest 2005.
Item: Fun is the new Not Fun
Call it the Polyphonic paradigm, but shit is about to get goofy. Lemon-yellow shoes, candy-colored pants, and a smile that looks like you just filched the whole room's stash. It's part of the dance-y rock movement that's been all the rage for the last year (see Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, Futureheads, etc.), but now it's getting taken up a notch as clubgoers tuck those smart haircuts safely behind sweatbands and go for broke. Hands above heads, rocking back and forth -- Saturday nights will be sort of like church, but with more aerobics and beer. Check out the concert videos from Seattle's United State of Electronica (www.usemusic.com) for inspiration. Goths and last year's electroclash holdouts beware: Those frowns will be turned upside down. All that coke was just making you grumpy anyway.
Cutting-Edge Bay Area Early Adopters: Indie rock/reggae supergroup Still Flyin'.
Item: The Go! Team
Not Calvin Johnson's Go Team from the '80s. Nope, this is the British Go! Team, and it's going to unify the indie ranks the way Belle & Sebastian did five years ago. Six members, charismatic as hell, with a bassist who looks like Greg Brady and two librarian-lady drummers wearing oversize headphones and going nuts on the kits. The lead singer, Ninja (yes, Ninja), is no taller than a guitar, but she manages to produce twice the noise of a Marshall stack -- rapping, singing, inciting screaming contests in the crowd, and generally freaking the club like she's working a cruise ship for tips. Check out the band's supreme double-Dutch video at www.thegoteam.co.uk and you'll see what's about to mow you down. In a good way.
Cutting-Edge Bay Area Early Adopters: The Go! Team is charting on KALX-FM (90.7). Expect Bay Area tour dates soon.
Item: The distressed suit jacket over T-shirt
Men of the Bay Area have been rocking the suit-jacket-over-T-shirt thing since we stole it from the Strokes back in 2002. It's a versatile, commanding look that says: "Sure I'm stoned in an off-campus studio apartment right now, but I may have to put down this PlayStation controller at any moment to sign a lucrative record contract." As a testament to the jacket/tee combo's enduring popularity, it was being worn by half of the San Francisco rockers on my flight to Austin (Jason Falkner, I'm looking at you). The new angle, though, is to get all crafty on the jacket. After bringing it home from the thrift store, tear it up and then stitch it back together. Turn the sleeves inside out and the panels upside down; cover the thing with abstract thread motifs and yarn doodles. Maybe put your name on the back. Patch that sucker up. Does it look crazy? You're on the right track.
Cutting-Edge Bay Area Early Adopters: Homeless man at Sixth and Folsom.
Item: Corporate adoption of unknown indie acts will become more common, weirder
Category: Commercial direction
You thought Volkswagen leveraging your favorite unknown band to sell Jettas was confusing? Tylenol took that idea one step further with a strange debut at South by Southwest: It gave away a not-available-in-stores split-CD by American Analog Set and White Magic as part of a promotion called "Ouch." According to the Ouch Web site: "To do anything meaningful, you're going to have to deal with pain, whether it's physical or emotional or somewhere in between. ... Ouch is a program brought to you by the good people who make Tylenol® to showcase those individuals who face pain in order to create something positive. These amazing people brave the cuts, scrapes, bangs, bruises, headaches and heartaches to do something innovative pursuing the things they love." Uh, OK.
Cutting-Edge Bay Area Early Adopters: The latest CD in the Scion (as in the car) series features Raashan of Crown City Rockers. Pick it up at your local automobile showroom today!
Item: iPod DJs no longer mercilessly mocked
Category: Cultural shift
Blame it on the ubiquity of the festival's buzzword ("Podcasting!") but Austin in 2005 witnessed the dawn of a new tolerance toward real DJs dialing in the party direct from their iPods. It was strange at first, seeing tastemakers at the dance controls, not fussing over BPMs on their white-label vinyl, but instead thumbing through pre-made playlists on white MP3 players. Yeah, it's kind of lazy, but it's also unpretentious and highly practical, like wearing pajamas out in public because, well, they're just a hell of a lot more comfortable than real clothes. (And you know if they'd only invented pajamas a couple of years ago, all the snarling cool kids would be showing up at parties in their puffy cloud jammies.) Anyway, with the trend 10 minutes old, there's already a backlash, so go catch your local party-in-a-box while you still can.
Cutting-Edge Bay Area Early Adopters: N/A. According to party-hearty S.F. DJ Jefrodisiac, "The only people who just bring iPods are celebrity DJs, which don't exist in S.F." That means one of two things: There's still time for you to be the first DJ on your block to podcast, or Danny Glover is about to start headlining Ruby Skye.