At noon Wednesday - day parties already roaring along Sixth and Red River streets — it felt like a SXSW Friday evening. By 5 p.m., lines at some venues still went down the block, and an over-40 fan was heard to say, "Can there be a separate entrance for old people?"
SXSW Music 2011 is all the way up.
Downtown lunch crowd gets White surprise
Jack White played a solo acoustic set at noon Wednesday outside Frank at Fourth and Colorado streets. White drove his Third Man Rolling Record Store van down from Nashville for the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival. Reports had him playing "Not Fade Away," followed by the White Stripes' "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground."
The van should be parked outside the gourmet hot dog restaurant for much of SXSW - because who wants to drive in this traffic?
British band the Vaccines also played a pop-up show outside First Baptist Church.
Japan relief efforts going strong at festivals
The Red Cross will have booths at Auditorium Shores on Friday and Saturday for fans to donate to Japan earthquake and tsunami relief efforts. Meanwhile, the Japan Nite booth at the Convention Center has collected thousands of dollars from SXSW attendees tossing bills in a basket.
The booth has a live stream of Japanese TV so attendees from Japan can keep up with developments.
"My wife's family lives close to the nuclear plants, so we are very concerned," said Ryo Shimizu, a Tokyo music promoter. SXSW publicist Elizabeth Derczo said only one or two bands from Japan won't make their SXSW appearances in the wake of the natural disasters. The annual SXSW Japan Nite will be Friday at Elysium.
And as of Wednesday night, the fundraising site created last week during SXSW Interactive, www.sxsw4japan.org, has raised close to $67,000 between donations on the site and another $5,000 corporate donation. (The URL sxswcares.org also redirects to the site.)
That effort has moved from the Samsung Bloggers Lounge to Matt Curtis' office at City Hall, where organizers Leigh Durst and Matt Wu have been joined by Dallas blogger Denice Crowell.
On Wednesday night, they were interviewed by a documentary film crew from Japan.
"I came to find out what South by Southwest is about," filmmaker Yasushi Psugihiro said. "Now I know."
Cee Lo, Lupe Fiasco drop out of showcase
"Hey Guys, sorry I won't be able to make it to SXSW but my good friends Janelle Monae, B.O.B. and Wiz Khalifah will ALL be there performing."
That was Cee Lo Green tweeting on Wednesday night after it was announced that both he and Lupe Fiasco had dropped out of tonight's show at La Zona Rosa. No reason for Green's absence; illness is the culprit for Fiasco.
B.o.B. and Janelle Monae have filled their slots at the Killers, Lasers, Papers showcase, which is scheduled to be streamed live to the artists' fan sites, www.rollingstone.com and www.killerslaserspapers.com. (Cee Lo and Lupe are still listed in today's Best Bets in Life & Style; that section is printed in advance.)
City plans weekend permit crackdown
So you might have to cancel that show in your front yard: The City of Austin announced Wednesday that the Public Assembly Code Enforcement team will be out and checking permits starting today and through the weekend. If you don't have the proper paperwork, you could be shut down. See a checklist of requirements and more information at www.cityofaustin.org/pace.
Technology behind Watson at summit
Well, it was a valiant effort, at least.
South by Southwest Interactive is over, but the new SXSWi Technology Summit is still going. At a presentation by IBM on Wednesday, the company showed off the Watson natural language processing technology that became well-known recently when it was featured on quiz show "Jeopardy!"
IBM's David Shepler hosted the presentation and explained the way Watson parses language and how it decides when to answer, but he emphasized that the technology is not just for quiz shows; it'll have more practical applications in medicine, engineering and other areas.
See a video of the demo of the Watson technology (not the actual Watson computer itself; that's back at IBM) competing against Austin game designer Richard Garriott and Nick Barbaro, founder of the Austin Chronicle, at austin360.com/digitalsavant.
Thursday eventsBob Geldof delivers the 2011 keynote at 11 a.m.On stages: Wu-Tang Clan, the Strokes, James Blake, Wiz Khalifa, the Bangles, Big Freedia and hundreds more.St. Patrick's Day: Two big green parties.