FROM AUSTIN, TEXAS South by Southwest kicked off last Friday and runs through Sunday, bringing hordes of film and music lovers to Austin, as well as hundreds of bands, filmmakers, and corporate (party-hosting) entities. This year, IFC, a longtime sponsor of the festival, sought to bridge the gap between the more low-key film festival and the highly popular music portion with a party that could appeal to both sets and introduce the channel's brand to music fans. The Crossroads event, featuring Yo La Tengo and My Morning Jacket, kicked off the music festival to a packed crowd on Tuesday night at the local landmark live music venue the Parish.
Given the nature of SXSW, which has long been a source of new and upcoming musical talent, the IFC event team had to decide which kind of acts they wanted to book. “We considered classic, established acts as well as newer ones,” said Lauren Burack, vice president of promotions and events at IFC. “At the end of the day, the one-two punch of My Morning Jacket and Yo La Tengo was too tempting to pass up. Both are established bands with fiercely loyal fan bases, and they embody the essence of the SXSW music scene.”
IFC recruited Morpheus Media to reach out to those fan bases with postings on social networks and other online forums. The wristbands for free admittance to the small venue were distributed at Sixth Street’s Waterloo Records on Monday morning, where hundreds of people had been lined up for hours. Some of the bravest had spent the entire night in the rain.
For decor, Burack went the simple route, relying on gobos flashing the IFC and sponsor Absolut Vodka’s logos on the walls and several flat-screen TVs rotating clips from network’s original programming, while Absolut fitted the open bar with three signature cocktails. Doors opened shortly after 10 p.m. to the 400-plus crowd who’d secured access the day before, and Yo La Tengo opened the performances shortly thereafter. My Morning Jacket followed with a two-hour set. Almost everyone in attendance stayed until the band wrapped up just past 2 a.m., and those who lingered were swept out with hundreds of beer bottles and plastic cups that littered the Parish’s floor.
Not everyone in the line that stretched two blocks from the door was able to get in to the party, which reached capacity within a half hour. The handful of ticket holders who weren’t able to gain admittance were compensated with complimentary festival wristbands, giving them access to events and other shows throughout the week.