By Robert Williams
South By Southwest (SXSW) is an annual music and film conference/festival held yearly in beautiful Austin, Texas. In the 21 years of its existence, SXSW has served as a launching pad for many unknown bands turned media darlings overnight. For one week in the month of March each year bands from all over the world gather in downtown Austin and showcase their music, their craft, for record executives, media big wigs, and most importantly in my opinion, music lovers!
This all sounds like a splendid and festive occasion with the exception of one detail. SXSW has almost exclusively all but overlooked metal and its many subgenres for its entire existence.
Now I won’t lie. In years past I have seen some cool showcases. Century Media and Relapse usually cart their bands into town, and scattered about my 12 year tenure in Austin I have seen some notable showcases featuring among others In Extremo, Sol Evil, Children Of Bodom, and Grey Skies Fallen. But when 1,400 bands come to town for one week in March each year, you would hope at least, I don’t know, 50-100 of them would be awesome heavy metal, right?
Well, this year Austin got a fair amount of killer metal. Kicking things off on Wednesday, the 12th I had the pleasure of witnessing my first Municipal Waste concert. A day later I got off of work early and headed downtown with some friends and caught a showcase featuring Enslaved, Mixhell, Napalm Death, High On Fire, and the mighty Motorhead.
Lastly, I witnessed the “It’s Grim Up North” showcase featuring Sabaton, 1349 and Enslaved. I partied like a true champion, saw some really, really good performances and got some really solid interviews. Read on metal faithful and I shall guide you through these conversations in steel conducted in my homeland of Austin….Let’s start at the beginning….