The South by Southwest music festival officially starts today, but the Soundcheck staff hit the town yesterday -- it turned out to be a great opportunity to see Austin before madness likely sets in sometime around noon today.
By the early afternoon, the Austin Convention Center was already packed with registrants picking up badges, wristbands, and various press passes. I'm using a teeny new digital camera (a birthday gift to my wife that I've somehow wound up using during the festival) that requires a neon-green press badge that is almost bigger than the camera itself. I had to sign an agreement that I would observe some ground rules: only shoot during the first few songs of a set, only shoot up to 30 seconds of video, etc. Also included: I am prohibited from showing off the pics from my niece's 2nd birthday, which are still on the memory card.
Of course, press aren't the only ones taking care of business at the convention center. Outside, we met the Austin band Quiet Company (pictured), whose four members bore sandwich boards with slogans like: 'Free CDs and Hugs From Quiet Company' and 'New Best Friends and Free CDs, Brought to You By Quiet Company.' It was a fairly brilliant stroke of grassroots promotion. The guys had exhausted their supply of free discs and placed one in the hands of Billy Bob Thornton's band, which I think is a good thing. They described themselves as a weird, rockin' version of The White Album and the songs on their MySpace page are great. Also there: a slate of SXSW dates, for you to check out.