brace yourself... it's coming
Primed for international success: SXSW announces first wave of bands, includingfirst-timers from Africa and Iceland
The SXSW excitement gets cranked up increasingly early as the festival has grown into one of the signature events of the year for the worldwide entertainment industry. Even though only seven months have passed since the last SXSW, it’s already time to start anticipating what the 2012 edition of the festival will have to offer—and with the announcement of the first handful of bands on the lineup, as well as panel announcements and more, there’s plenty to be psyched about.
The first thing to keep in mind when considering the list of bands announced is that this is the little pink spoon, not the whole sundae—the list has some exciting names, but it’s only a peek, with barely over a hundred acts on the list. Maybe that’d be a substantial part of the bill at a regular festival, but for SXSW, that’s not even 10 percent. No specific act on the bill is a game-changer, but taken as a sample of what to expect, it provides a good idea of what you might find at SXSW 2012.
That’s not to say that the lineup announced today isn’t impressive in its own right. Florida’s Against Me!, Ohio’s Cloud Nothings, Iceland’s Of Monsters And Men, San Francisco’s Thee Oh Sees, and Austin’s own Black And White Years are all on the bill, along with countless others.
It’s also clear that SXSW will once more include the chance to hear acts that are unlikely to spend much time in Austin otherwise. Of Monsters And Men, for example, is a rising star on the Internet, but they haven’t spent much time in the States at this point. African rock/hip-hop combo Just A Band is making the trip over from Kenya for the first time. And while some acts, like Cloud Nothings and Thee Oh Sees have spent enough time in town to earn them “honorary local” status over the past year (the former was an MVP of SXSW 2011, while the latter will be in town this weekend for Fun Fun Fun Fest), the opportunity to watch have they’ve grown after a year of dedicated touring is exciting in other ways.
In short, for a first look at what to expect from 2012, the number of surprises may be low, but the confirmation that the festival is going to keep pushing boundaries in exactly the ways that have made it such a success is a more than adequate substitute. There are two bands on the bill from Naorobi—how many other US festivals can boast that, especially when there are around 1,800 other names to be released over the next four months?
The selection of sneak peeks from the music conference panels are intriguing, too. With the release of the U.S. version of Spotify a few months old, discussions like “Pennies From The Celestial Jukebox” are likely to be an intriguing look at the future of the industry—in ways that may even offer some genuine new ideas for artists struggling to get paid. The nostalgia-flecked look at Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday, meanwhile, with family and artists participating, is the sort of one-of-a-kind event that makes the conference exciting.
SXSW Film and SXSW Interactive, meanwhile, have dozens of panels already announced. There’s smart stuff at play here, too; whether it’s “In Search Of The Muslim Sassy Gay Friend” from ThinkProgress, “Reinventing The Graphic Novel for the iPad,” at SXSW Film, or the previously-announced keynote speaker at SXSW Interactive of The Onion’s Baratunde Thurston, it’s clear that this isn’t going to be a “resting on its laurels” sort of year from SXSW.
There’s still a long way to go before we get too worked up, but there’s already an awful lot to look forward to come March.