The Rise and Fall of the Great SxSW Empire ©

Posted in Music on June 15th, 2011 by Gary Etie – 13 Comments

From where I stand, 2011 was the turnaround year for the SxSw Festival. Interactive registrants outnumbered Music, with music becoming a more-than-anticipated part of Interactive. The Music part of things very nearly got out of hand. The perfect example is where greed and egos combined to make a very poor performance by the Strokes into a news-worthy near-disaster.

On closing night, with Kanye doing the Kanye thang at Seaholm until 4 AM (how was that OK’ed or allowed by P.A.C.E.???), Red Bull at 4th & Congress, and other shows, both official and fringe, going violently overboard in their attempts to garner attention, it hardly felt like the good SxSW vibe of as little as 3 years ago.

Permits for the unofficial, unsanctioned Levi’s event, during SxSW, had been somewhat tricky, ever since 2005, when the temporary event popped up an outdoor venue at the Habaña Annex at 709 E 6th St. After 2 successful years, SxSW rented that venue out from under Levi’s, and went around town bragging about sticking it to Levi’s, and me.

So, I scouted and helped negotiate a new home, at the former American Youthworks warehouse, at 4th & Brazos. 2 more great years there.

Here’s where, from my viewpoint, it started to turn weird, and downhill … precisely at 12 Noon, at the very moment that the Levi’s-Fader “Fort” opened its doors, on the opening day of SxSW 2008, the SxSW organization hired a fairly large group of homeless folks, gave them PETA signs, and proceeded to march them adjacent to the entry line that was stretched around the block, allegedly protesting Levi’s cruel treatment of animals(?!). I started to intervene … I couldn’t help it … I was so taken aback by the “dirty pool” nature of the tactic, I started confronting the “protesters” … but quickly got shooed out of there, and rightfully so, by the event production crew. It wasn’t any of my business anyway, so, I left, even though I was shocked and ashamed of how low SxSW would stoop, to fuck things up.

For SxSW 2009, the planning arm of the SxSW org, High Beam Events, leased the Levi’s, venue location out from under them, again.

However, even though I had been explaining the set-up that made the Levi’s-Fader event possible, High Beam and SxSW couldn’t figure out how to use the property for a music event, much less one that would include alcohol. Lame So, what did they do with the space, having negotiated a $40,000+ lease, for a 4 day event? High Beam/SxSW let American Apparel (the company known for its ads that featuring offensive photos of 18 year olds that look like 15 year olds) put a bunch of cardboard boxes of not-so-sellable clothing out in the parking lot, for sale. I have no idea how that went, but Yuk!

Sooo .. in 2009, I found a nice little spot just east of downtown for the annual Levi’s-Fader event, even suggesting a name the owner liked, “Pine Street Station”, and got that fully permitted for a great outdoor music venue. Unfortunately Kanye West announced a closing night appearance at the venue, 4 days prior to the 2009 festival, and caused major problems. The next year, 2010, the City’s guard was understandably up, but we worked everything out, even as Transmission Entertainment’s “Mess with Texas” event (also my client that year) moved in across the street.

Not long after SxSW 2010, I came to the difficult realization that I did not want to be the one to pull the Permits for the event in 2011. That, it ends up, was a lucky call.

The first mention of something afoot was by Michael Corcoran | Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 12:05 PM:

The Fader Fort is celebrating its 10th anniversary of annoying South by Southwest officials with a new partner and plans to stream performances live in conjunction with MySpace Music. Expected to be held at the same Pine Street Station location at East Fifth and Waller Streets, the four-day invitation-only event will be called the Fader Fort by Fiat this year.

Rumors have been swirling about Fiat flying in some big names (the Strokes?) this year. In the past, such acts as Amy Winehouse, Lou Reed, Kanye West, M.I.A., Kid Cudi, the Black Keys and more have played the Fader Fort.

Although officially-credentialed SXSW-goers usually get some sort of priority entry, the Fader Fort’s practice of admitting some lucky fans without music business ties, has made it the hottest fringe party spot of SXSW.

As it turned out, Levi’s payed for the official, free SxSW Strokes show at Auditorium Shores. Was there a lack of proper security measures? Notice the guy in the video with “SAFETY” on his T-shirt. He isn’t a licensed Security provider, and has no idea what to do:


and how did it go at the “unofficial”, but behind the scenes – SxSW-won’t-try-to-block-your-permits-this-year” Fader Fort byFiat? You decide:


Austin Music, Volume 10

Posted in Music on June 15th, 2011 by Gary Etie – 16 Comments

The Austin Music Office, a division of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau (Austin CVB) just released their 10th annual Austin Music album. “Austin Music Volume 10″ is a compilation of local music artists that celebrates Austin’s rich musical history, while showcasing the future of established musicians, alongside the voices of rising stars. It features an eclectic mix of genres ranging from indie rock, Latin, folk rock and blues, to experimental pop, hip-hop and western swing.

Buy the album

In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of this compilation, vinyl albums will also be made available for the first time ever. “Austin Music Volume 10″ will be distributed at many of the leading festivals and music events this year throughout the country, including: Americana Music Festival and Conference, Austin City Limits Music Festival, Fun Fun Fun Fest, South by Southwest Music Conference, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Sync Up Fest, Latino Music Month & Pachanga Fest, and Latin Alternative Music Conference. The CD will sell for $12.99 and vinyl will sell for $14.99. For further information or to purchase a download card, vinyl album, or CD, please visit

Outdoor Music Permits List Updated

Posted in Music on June 13th, 2011 by Gary Etie – 1 Comment

The complete list of Austin Outdoor Music Permits has been updated.
In the list, you will find:

  • A link to each and every OMV Application/Permit in the City of Austin database
  • The status of all OMV Applications/Permits
  • A link to a QR Code that provides a venue’s Permit information.

Fun Fun Fun Fest

Posted in Music, Music Commission on June 7th, 2011 by Gary Etie – Be the first to comment

Austin Music Commission, 06/06/2011:
James Moody, Transmission Entertainment, brings a critical “3rd Day” issue to the Commission, brought about by the closing of Waterloo Park, the former home of Fun Fun Fun Fest, for initial work on the Waller Creek Tunnel project, and the festival’s move to Auditorium Shores.

Austin Music Commission Archives

Posted in Music on May 14th, 2011 by Gary Etie – Be the first to comment

Austin Music Commission meetings are being archived. Video of the Feb thru May (Update: June meeting now archived), 2011 meetings are currently available.

Meetings prior to February are, hopefully, being added as they are processed by the City’s vendor. I know that I would especially appreciate the public being able to view the November 1st meeting.