By Mikael Wood
9:00 AM EDT, March 14, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- It's too early to identify trends after the first night of the South by Southwest music festival, which revved to life Tuesday. Folks are excited -- giddy, even -- about the prospect of seeing some of the more than 2,000 acts scheduled to play here from now through early Sunday, while others have already begun availing themselves of the many, many open bars that dot the sun-scorched SXSW landscape like booze-dispensing cactuses. In other words, festivalgoers can't necessarily be viewed as accurate reflections of the zeitgeist.
That changes on Day 2, by which point folks have begun to establish their routines and settle into the patterns that will define (for better or worse) their festival experiences. Herewith, five observations from Wednesday morning and early afternoon:
1. Prince had better show up. The Purple One's promised presence at a gig he's reportedly playing Saturday night is a frequent conversation topic on the streets and in the hotel lobbies of Austin, so much so that his devoted fans are sure to be disappointed -- like, let's-go-crazy disappointed -- if he fails to materialize. One amped-up youngster on Wednesday could be overheard alleging that not only was Prince going to play but that A Tribe Called Quest had been recruited as his opening act as well.
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2. The eyes have it. If you thought the Wayfarer couldn't possibly expand its domination of the hipster marketplace -- that perhaps it had reached saturation level at Coachella last year -- then you were wrong. Be they black, white or various shades of neon, the sunglasses are beyond ubiquitous in Austin at the moment. Buy stock now.
3. Facial hair is still happening. If you thought the bushy beard couldn't possibly expand its domination of the hipster marketplace -- well, you get it.
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4. The crowd is getting way, way younger. There are people who bring babies to SXSW. At the Austin Convention Center early Wednesday, I spied a pair of them -- a young mom and dad, presumably, perhaps members of some promising indie-pop outfit -- queuing up to retrieve their conference badges. Yet as the parent of two under-4-year-olds, I can tell you that SXSW isn't a place for children. It's about squeezing into small rock clubs with no room for strollers, and failing that, it's about waiting in long lines outside those small rock clubs on crowded sidewalks with no room for strollers. And more than anything, it's about people staring at their smartphones as they walk down the street -- even as unseen toddlers come hurtling toward them. Godspeed, you hardy souls. You'll need it.
5. Hydrate often. Did I mention the open bars? Folks are enthused.
Follow Mikael Wood on Twitter: @mikaelwood
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