The Sound Strike's Spin on Their SXSW Panel, Old 97's and More from SXSW

Categories: SXSW
Thumbnail image for SoundStrikeOrganizers_sxsw.jpg
The Sound Strike
Arizona activist Leilani Clark, Sound Strike organizer Javier Gonzalez and rapper Immortal Technique pose after The Sound Strike panel at SXSW.

​A day ago, I told you what happened at the panel discussion The Sound Strike hosted at South By Southwest. The group, which is organizing a boycott of Arizona because the state's legislature passed a draconian anti-immigrant law called SB 1070, which was blocked by courts and will likely never go into effect, is now telling its side.

To hear their version of the story you'd hardly think they were at the same event where a crowd that was mostly made up of upset but polite Arizonans confronted the group about its heavy-handed tactics after politely listening to lengthly lectures about U.S. history.

"Those in attendance agreed it was one of the best and most informative panels they had ever seen at SXSW. With some of the most unique and creative perspectives on this issue, the Sound Strike panel gave an initial overview of the issue and the recent uptrend in the belligerently harsh approaches being taken up by far right wing extremists."

Ummmm, not so much. One woman who posed for pictures with the panelists afterward like a schoolgirl meeting Justin Bieber seemed to really dig it, but other than that everyone who spoke was either angry, sad, or both.

Organizers hinted at the real story on The Sound Strike's official twitter account, where the group posted: "Despite what phx nt spews haters got schooled @Sxsw"

This of course begs the question: What haters? I thought, "Those in attendance agreed it was one of the best and most informative panels they had ever seen at SXSW."

Also, it's pretty funny to hear the group bragging about "schooling" people when they wouldn't give them a space on the stage to make their case and tried to encourage the few randoms in the room to take up the few minutes of question time.

That's not the only bitter hypocrisy here: As you can hear in a recording of the speech given by organizer Javier Gonzalez, he began by stating that, "We don't want to have a conversation about tactics or strategies -- I know I, for example, represent The Sound Strike, the artist boycott of Arizona -- that we look at that as a tactic. This isn't a debate about boycotts or no boycotts, playing or not playing. It's a debate about what we can all be doing."

How the hell a boycott doesn't fall under "what we can all be doing" since it's what they're doing and how organizers planned to promote their boycott but not answer questions about it, I cannot say.

Then again, it's pretty hard to imagine why this panel was allowed -- especially without giving a voice to the opposition.

Southby is a apolitical music festival and conference that's supposed to promote business. Yet someone in the management structure decided to give a slot to a group that's promoting a boycott of Arizona's music industry over the state's stupid-but-never-gonna-take-effect-anyway immigration law SB 1070. They were allowed to stack the deck, too -- no boycott opponents were permitted on the panel, which meant the "discussion" was mostly centered around the group's controversial historical narrative.

After the lectures, a crowd which was at least half upset Arizonans, stood up to confront the boycott organizers, asking tough questions and getting the group to explain that it plans to move away from a full-on boycott of the state. You can hear it in the group's recording, and it's the closest thing you're going to get to truth from them.

Other notes from Austin...

  • I wish The Sound Strike stuff wasn't casting a pall on my SXSW experience. It is, though. I did, however, catch some great shows yesterday including a packed Old 97's set behind Swan Dive which really wowed me.
  • Old 97's didn't play a single song from my favorite record, Fight Songs, and strangers kept pushing me toward a foot-high drop-off but it was an incredible 45-minute set, anyway. Their song selection was heavily Lone Star State-flavored, including both "Living In The State of Texas" and "West Texas Teardrops." "Big Brown Eyes" really brought the house down. Thanks to Brooklyn Vegan for bringing the band over to Austin.
  • Likewise, AgesandAges were stellar in their official showcase at Rusty Spurs. The band will be at Trunk Space in April -- don't miss them.
  • The Vaccines were not good at Stubb's. The band is only a year old and they sounded like it -- not much chemistry at all. Although they had a choice slot on a huge stage they would have been much better off playing a club. I only stayed for a few songs, but I'm not sure if Greg Kot saw the same show I did.
  • Kinch, on the other hand, was super tight at their afternoon show hosted by Common Wall Media at SoHo Lounge.
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