Houston Calling

Lomax’s take on SXSW

March 18th, 2006 · No Comments

Houston Press‘ John Nova Lomax has penned what I think is probably his finest article.

In this week’s Press, his editorial — “The Hype of March: Who will be the band of 2006, and why you shouldn’t care” — tells it like it is. Having just spent three solid days in Austin attending the SXSW festivities, I can attest to the ridiculousness of it all. The hype machine is in full effect, from Editors posters on every lightpost to Arctic Monkeys posters glued next to chalk outline posters of Morrissey, the labels have been pumping (and pimping) their bands to the masses throughout the week. One one hand, the scene is inspiring. On another, it’s frightening.

Don’t get me wrong — South By Southwest is a great time, and is a great way to see a lot of bands, interact with media members, and hang out with friends new and old. It’s a great way to not have to pay for food or drinks for days on end, gets loads of free stuff, and also walk endlessly, since in Houston that’s something you never get to do. I had a great time doing it all, but more about that later (come back tomorrow for my recap).

For now, I want you to read Lomax’s article. It’s great. Here’s an excerpt:

The decisions have been made in smoke-filled rooms in London, New York and L.A. and in Pitchfork‘s Chicago office. The Arctic Monkeys, the Go! Team, Editors, Art Brut and Love Is All have already been bathed in the holy waters of Pitchfork‘s raves and are sure to wow everybody at their shows.

Why? Why are their shows sure to be epic? Because those who will be attending have been told they will be, by cool people on the Internet. I know this is true because I read the March issue of Harper‘s, wherein supercool person Bill Wasik – the evil genius behind the “flash mob” social experiment of a couple of years back, served up an amazing article on the state of hipness in the year 2006.

First, Wasik dredged up the old, now-neglected social psychology term “deindividuation,” which is defined in the article as “a state of affairs in a group where members do not pay attention to other individuals qua individuals.” (Sorry about that qua. It will never appear in Racket again.) Wasik elaborates thus: “When in a crowd or pack, the theory ran, each man sees he doesn’t stand out and so his inhibitions melt away.”

And then he applies the theory to today’s hipsters – whom he defines as “those hundreds of thousands of educated young urbanites with strikingly similar tastes.” In other words, the target audience for South By’s Anointed Few, who, in Wasik’s words, “make no pretense to divisions on principle, to forming intellectual or artistic camps; at any given moment, it is the same books, records, films that are judged au courant by all, leading to the curious spectacle of an ‘alternative’ culture more unanimous than the mainstream it ostensibly opposes.”

Read the entire article here.

Now Playing: the ringing in my ears…

Tags: Music

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