Whether staying or going, Cambridge is a bit South by Southwest
Monday was the first day of South by Southwest, the festival of music, technology and film that manages to draw the world’s attention to Austin, Texas, for at least a fortnight.
For those who aren’t going, social media expert Rachel Happe suggested people converge on Jasper White’s Summer Shack by the Alewife T stop in Cambridge at 6:30 p.m. Monday for North by Northeast (or So-What-If-We-Are-Not-at-SXSW). It’s really an excuse for seafood and drinks — Happe takes pains to point out “Just to be clear — this Tweetup has no sponsor … you are on your own for food/beverages” — but it’s suggested that people who stop in bring their “Top 10 Reasons I’m not at SXSW.”
The event seems to be filling in, Happe said Thursday via Twitter. Around 40 people had already signed the guest list, most from the world of social media and high-tech.
That takes care of the interactive part. Music lovers can fufill their aspirations to travel in Boston, rather than Austin, with Drug Rug, two Cambridge folks who played SXSW two years ago in a six-band show sponsored by the Austinist news and event site.
Drug Rug, which plays at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Paradise (967-969 Commonwealth Ave., Boston) is Thomas Allen and Sarah Cronin, who met four years ago as co-workers at The Middle East. Here’s how they describe themselves:
The songs are inspired by the story-telling style of early folk musicians, comic books, campgrounds, pet sounds, strange dreams, people who’ve passed on and the illustrations of Garth Williams …
While running the stylistic gamut, from the country duets of Ken and Dolly to the “Pet Sounds” harmonies of Brian Wilson, Drug Rug still stays true to their rock ’n’ roll roots, including The Velvet Underground and The Byrds.
There are plenty of Cantabrigians heading down to Austin, though.
Prominent among them are two competing socal media Web projects: Sponty and Riotvine, which encourage users to identify what events they’ll be attending so friends can join them. Riotvine, which launched in November, announced Feb. 25 that it’s whipped up a mobile app to connect people wandering Texas streets, poking their heads into events and trying to figure out where their friends are (the cool ones, anyway).
With some 2,300 events scheduled, SXSW is a “perfect opportunity for people to use RiotVine … it can really be an overwhelming experience for attendees. By giving people an easy tool to see where their friends will be, it can make their experience more enjoyable and less overwhelming,” said RiotVine founder Kabir Hemrajani.
Bands are also headed down, notably Monique Ortiz, the low rock, gothic blues goddess who recently wrapped up a residency at the Plough & Stars. She has guerilla shows scheduled at the Key Bar (617 W. 6th St., Austin) on Thursday and Saturday, new CDs to hand out at them and said tweeted last month that she was asked to give an industry talk. “No idea why,” she said, before ultimately opting out.
The festival itself lasts until March 21, with the three concentrations overlapping: Interactive starts today and runs through Tuesday, and film starts today and runs through March 20; music starts Wednesday and runs through March 21.
This who’s-going, who’s-staying question could mean less in the future. Councillor Ken Reeves has pointed out that a study commissioned last year by the Kendall Square Association suggests Cambridge create its own SXSW-style festival.