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Sound replaces tech fury, but long lines echo as common gripe

Nicole Villalpando
nvillalpando@statesman.com

Tuesday marked the official changeover from South by Southwest Interactive to South by Southwest Music.

In the morning, Interactive attendees were hearing celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, Pintrest co-founder Ben Silbermann and Stratfor CEO George Friedman. At night, the music scene took over clubs across downtown and East Austin. SXSW Film handed out awards at the Austin Convention Center, and Interactive handed them out at the Hilton Austin.

Tuesday didn't feel like the first day of SXSW Music, however, as music increasingly has become part of Interactive, with Monday's Jay-Z concert at ACL Live providing one of the crowning moments for Interactive.

The conference, which attracted big money and big names like Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore, had another big year of growth, though its rate of attendance growth slowed a bit from the 30 to 40 percent of recent years.

On Tuesday evening, the festival said its official paid attendance count for 2012 was 24,569, up from 19,364 in 2011, an increase of about 27 percent. That number includes people who paid to attend Interactive, as well as Gold and Platinum badgeholders, who also have access to other parts of SXSW.

The continued growth in fest attendance has been a concern because of the shortage of hotel rooms downtown able to accommodate attendees and the requirements of putting on a downtown show with more than 1,000 panels and hundreds of parties and meet-ups.

This year, Interactive, which began Friday, had to deal with rain and cold weather on Friday and Saturday that forced many attendees indoors, leading to more crowded conditions and perhaps longer-than-usual badge lines when Interactive began.

Lines are a rite of SXSW Music, and they started in force on Tuesday. People lined up at 11 a.m. for the noon start of wristband redemption at the Fader Fort, which has gone official after nine years as one of the most popular side parties during the fest. Performances there begin with Santigold, Danny Brown and Oberhofer among the acts scheduled.

Other music fans talked of waiting an hour and half in line at the Pure Volume House at Second and Trinity streets. A few blocks away at Fifth and Trinity, the Hype Hotel seemed to be living up to its name with equally long waits. The DMX party featuring Pandora at Clive Bar also had long lines.

Contact Nicole Villalpando at 912-5900

Additional material from staff writers Sharon Chapman, Peter Mongillo and Omar L. Gallaga