SXSW 2009: The Fader Fort as Economic Indicator


This pic is tagged “Andrew Peeing on Fader Fort,” FYI. CREDIT.

I was intrigued to see this year’s iteration of the Fader Fort, generally one of the most elaborate “unofficial” SXSW entities, wherein the trendsetting mag takes over some disused warehouse space or whatnot and runs a four-day alternate universe of quasi-hipster cool and relentless marketing — a whole Levi store inside, just for starters. Surely this year, given the calamity in the music biz and beyond, would result in a more demure, cost-cutting operation. Ha, ha.

Instead, this year it seems to be like Woodstock-sized, a very literal fort in terms of both size and exclusivity, long lines to get the wristband to stand in the line to get in to buy jeans, Ray-Bans, sweet vintage T-shirts, etc. etc. There’s a whole “blogger room” full of computers, a DJ booth taller than many of Austin’s buildings, multiple art installations (the little bench where folks can sit surrounded by tiny mirrors is a bit too literal), a huge bank of Port-a-Johns, an XBox corner (Halo Wars makes no sense to me), the usual bewildering-fashion-based gawking potential… this place seems to have its own laws, culture, currency. Kanye West is Saturday night’s poorly kept secret; reasonably priced free wristbands are still available!

This is all completely ridiculous. But there I am drinking Southern Comfort mixed with Mountain Dew for some reason, just across the tracks from the Austin Pipe and Supply Company, watching endless torrents of bands I apparently should give a shit about (Lissie Trullie, boring the shoes off everyone) and bands I used to give a shit about (Tricky doing “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos,” still super OK with me), marveling that the fundamentals of our economy, if not our sense of culture exactly, are still strong. This sort of thing will die out eventually, but it will die in style.