I am not going to the SXSW music festival this year. I cannot tell you how relieved I am not to be going. The pressure to be hip, to be in five places at once, and to drink free beer before it runs out is not something I’m going to miss. Austin is not equipped to accommodate the drunken clusterfuck that the SXSW music festival has become. So I’ll gladly be skipping town after SXSW Interactive.
To all you folks who will descend on Austin the day I’ll be leaving, I can only say…good luck, suckas. Wouldn’t wanna be ya, but if I were ya, here’s who I’d go see.
The Black Angels
Corrosion of Conformity*
Girl in a Coma
High on Fire
Justin Townes Earle
Shiny Toy Guns
The Ting Tings
*If you see no other show, see this one: Zoroaster, A Storm of Light, Rwake, Saviours, Black Cobra, Corrosion of Conformity, Wednesday 3/14 7:30 p.m. Dirty Dog Bar. Do not miss Zoroaster.
If you haven’t heard already on a music blog or in your tweet stream, allow me to break the days-old news: Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman have raised over $95K (and counting) on Kickstarter for a five-city West Coast “tour”, the contents of which have yet to be determined. Except that it will involve the happy couple Amanda and Neil doing…whatever it is they do together onstage.
Here’s the explanatory video, in which AFP confesses she doesn’t know what the fuck they’ll be doing in the show, but that, even if they’re not coming to your city, you should still give them your money.
Within hours of the start of this campaign, the highest donation option of $500 had been capped. This means that the max amount of fans possible paid $500 for a ticket to the show (whatever it turns out to be), a grab bag of merch, and an “intimate” meet-and-greet with Amanda and Neil. The ironic thing is that you can usually meet Amanda after any of her shows. For free. One can only assume that meeting Neil Gaiman is more expensive. But $500? Really?
Here’s the kicker: the project is already 475% funded; it has 22 days to go; and people are STILL DONATING. It’s like this cult of followers can’t stop themselves from giving, even when the “tour” has been funded four times over.
What peeves me the most is that Amanda’s songwriting has been less than her best since about 2006. Yes, Virginia was the last strong album she wrote. No, Virginia was essentially a bunch of B-sides. WKAP was an incoherent collection mostly of self-indulgent ballads with an online fantasy game accompanying it and a commemorative coffee table book made collaboratively with none other than Neil Himself. (So it came as no surprise when AFP and Neil announced they were dating around 2009.) Now they’re married, and apparently they believe that their simultaneous presence onstage is worth anywhere from $30-$500. My question is, where is the music to back up this ticket price? Is Radiohead on ukulele worth that? Is a live album in Australia worth that–or is it just a way to avoid going into the studio?
It seems like Amanda has realized that she can sell anything on the Internet and that people will buy it–four or five times over; so quality no longer matters. She can announce a show on the beach while her husband eats a banana, and people will give her $95,000. She doesn’t have to write good songs anymore. (Maybe Neil won’t have to write books anymore.) They make more money standing on the beach than most people make in two years. This is not art. This is a musician-turned-megalomaniac e-personality run amok. It’s crowdsourcing at its worst, flippantly inviting people to pay for concerts that probably won’t come to their city or for an opportunity backstage that thousands of people have previously gotten for free.
I was a huge fan of The Dresden Dolls. They worked hard, toured incessantly, and made great music. And I never had to pay more than $40 to hear it. Granted, I may have Roadrunner Records to thank for that. According to AFP, being indie is more profitable for her than was having a record deal. When it’s profitable to the tune of $95K for a uke, a half-formed idea, and a banana, I guess she’s right. The fans have spoken: do little, and we’ll pay you a lot.