If anything, though, the ever-expanding SXSW seemed to have too much to go around, a dizzying profusion of bands playing at 28 venues over three successive night. Though designed as a hip, laid-back exploration of the rock ‘n’ roll seed pond, the event feels a lot like Austin’s answer to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, complete with zig-zagging club itineraries, endless flowing beer, and the bleary-eyed transcendence that comes from stumbling onto an unexpectedly great performance in the wee hours.
“I’ve been here three of four times, and I really, really like this,” said Peter Holsapple, formal vocalist for 1980s cult faves the dBs, sometime-fifth member of R.E.M. and a current New Orleans resident. Holsapple came to SXSW to showcase his latest project, the continental Drifters, which features ex-Bangles guitarist Vicki Petersen and vocalist Susan Cowsill (of, yes, the Cowsills), Holsapple’s wife.