South by Southwest may be losing direction

The annual “South by Southwest” music festival begins in Austin, Texas, Friday. For Philadelphia musicians, it’s an essential gig. But, after 24 years, the festival is in danger of growing unwieldy.

Spinto Band, a Philadelphia indie rock outfit, recently created an Internet video parodying SXSW. It opens with six people standing in line for a show.

“This line goes on forever!”

“My free energy drink is wearing off.”

“This line is as daunting as a Decemberists song cycle!”

The video mocks elements of SXSW which are marked by the vapid and tiresome posturing endemic to the music scene.

“It’s magnified in Austin,” said Spinto Band guitarist Jon Eaton. “Everyone is trying to get into the hip show. I remember getting excited a few years ago to go to the Rachel Ray party of all parties. There’s this huge line that wrapped around the block.”

On the up side, Eaton said the festival is still a lot of fun, and a great networking opportunity. This year will be his fourth trip to SXSW, and it’s like a reunion of friends who spend most of the year on the road.

“I don’t know if it’s the festival getting bigger or me getting older,” said Philadelphia concert promoter Joe Lekkas, who has been going to SXSW for five years. “It’s harder to wait in lines all day long, walking around in the sun for 10 hours a day. It seems to be getting a little harder to do every year, a little more crowded.”

After every festival, Lekkas swears to himself it will be his last. And every year he goes back. He said going to Texas in March is an early spring after a Philadelphia winter.

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