The numbers are enough to make any music lover's head swim: 1,090 bands in five days, occupying 52 venues, all across America's "Music City," Austin, TX. The 18th annual South by Southwest Music and Media Conference is truly staggering in its scope. Well known in the music industry as the fertile breeding ground for those as-yet unbroken acts with the potential to reach millions, SXSW has previously hosted groundbreakers like Beck, The Strokes, My Morning Jacket, Jurassic 5, MMW, and The Flaming Lips—all before they captured mainstream attention. This year promises to be no different, with music from all over the US and as far away as Europe, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. Every band at SXSW—no matter how obscure—has something to offer.

This reporter couldn't be more stoked to be covering the event for JamBase. But please be aware: although JamBase faves like Umphrey's McGee, The Slip, and Particle will be throwing down, my mission is to unearth those hidden gems that you might not be familiar with, yet deserve your attention for their uniqueness and talent. I want to see those bands that crawled out from the underground to strut their stuff before the cognoscenti at SXSW. Me, I'm curious about Perth's The Sleepy Jackson, Plastilina Mosh (Mexico's answer to the Beastie Boys), New York MC Jean Grae, the enigmatic Secret Chiefs Three, Berlin's Terranova, Telefon Tel Aviv, and anything from Scandinavia. I'm gonna do the digging so you don't have to, and you'll hear about tomorrow's rising stars first here on JamBase.

From now until March 17 I'm in serious training. A healthy musical diet provided by non-stop headphones, car stereos, boom boxes, and speaker stacks will leave my ears toned and tuned. I'm doing hand crunches with both the right and the left to ensure proper note-taking strength and stamina. And at least three shows a week until D-Day will sharpen my critical skills to razor-like precision. It's a tough regimen but I need to be in peak condition to tackle what might be the greatest music festival on Earth.

If you have any recommendations for bands I should check out, please send them my way. There's literally too much music going on to possibly see it all, and yes, being familiar with even five percent of 1,000 acts is still 50 bands, but the more I know the more efficiently I can spend every waking minute soaking up the music.

Jonathan Zwickel
JamBase | SXSW Correspondent
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 2/11/04]

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