Robyn Hitchcock, co-founder of the highly regarded Soft Boys and prolific solo artist (among other things), will be writing about his experiences down in Austin for Billboard.biz each day of SXSW.
The Austin dawn is raked by merciless sunlight and the bats are safely under the bridge. In their multiple cells of their multiple hives, the SXSW throng of groovers slowly rustle into consciousness. I tap this message out on a glassy tablet that occasionally reflects my years back to me.
It's 45 years since I attended my first festival -- an afternoon in Hyde Park starring Traffic, Steve Winwood's soul folk psyche dream combo, in the days when you wouldn't actually have used those words to describe them; much as a stegosaurus wasn't called that in its own time. Back in 1968 the goals were simple: everything had to be long and smoky. With splashes of velvet colour.
Coming in on the plane yesterday I noticed that the ghost of that look is still around. I was the only male in a floral shirt ("You're a fuckin' faggot!" yelled a young man out of a car window last night, as I walked down Congress towards the bridge. I don't think he was driving but he knew how to lean out of a window), but long hair and beards are well developed on quite a few guys whose parents would have been too young to see Traffic in 1968.
The short-sleeved shirt and the black T remain the most consistent look for SXSW for males. Some females echo this approach but a fair crop of floral or black A-line dresses flickered across my eyeline yesterday. Maybe the man who leaned out of the car was upset because I wasn't wearing a dress. Striped long-sleeved scoop-necks are another thread from the '60s that gladden my psych-folk eye ( my eye doesn't have soul yet). Overall, it seems like there's less black around than there was in the industrial/goth days of 1990's SXSW, when the incoming planes were thronged with black-clad folk in shorts, goatees (fewer dames went for this option) and post-Stipe satchels. There's a little less hair dye than there was 20 years ago, it seems, but a lot more than there was in 1968. Tattoes subsiding, at a guess.
Now, I'm going out to resume my career in showbiz...