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SXSW 2013 opens with names big and small

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Mayer Hawthorne performs at the Samsung Galaxy Sound Stage
on Tuesday at SXSW.
(Getty Images)


AUSTIN, Texas -- "It's like Comic Con, but without anything cool."

That early review of South by Southwest came from one of the multitude of hipsters strutting through the Austin Convention Center on Tuesday -- the final day of SXSW Interactive and the first day of SXSW Music. This annual conference and festival in the Texas capital has grown into a 10-day event encompassing rollouts of films, digital ventures and new music. The movies and online jibber-jabber started March 8; the music blares on through March 17.

The relative coolness of what lies ahead remains to be seen, but it's already shaping up to be a typical mix of fresh-faced new bands -- the showcasing of which was SXSW's original mission when it began in 1987 -- and big-name celebs.

In the latter category, Depeche Mode, Green Day and Dave Grohl's Sound City Players (an assembly of Stevie Nicks, John Fogerty, Rick Springfield, Rick Nielsen, Corey Taylor and many more) have booked big performances this week. Other formidable names -- Iggy & the Stooges, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds -- also are among the thousands of artists vying for attention from journalists, record labels and digital media.

The rumor mill, though, is buzzing about two other megastars: Prince and Justin Timberlake. Both taut pop-R&B legends have been floated as possible surprise showcases during SXSW. The Prince gig is just a rumor, with an unnamed source suggesting that His Purpleness will perform with a 22-piece band Saturday night at the cavernous La Zona Rosa club.

Timberlake -- whose new album, "The 20/20 Experience," is out Tuesday (read my review) -- is scheduled all week on TV's "Lat Night With Jimmy Fallon," but the Austinist site has pieced together clues toward JT's own possible Saturday night show.

Watch this blog for my own reports. My docket includes the big and the small, from seeing how Green Day emerges from their personal crisis to checking out up-and-comers like Foxygen and Lianne La Havas. I'll also be sniffing out the home-cooking that always pervades SXSW, from Chicago's Wild Belle and Chief Keef to the premiere of the blues documentary "Born in Chicago." Stay tuned!


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Thomas Conner

Thomas Conner covers pop music for the Chicago Sun-Times. Contact him via e-mail.

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on March 13, 2013 9:00 AM.

Review: Justin Timberlake, 'The 20/20 Experience' was the previous entry in this blog.

You don't have to be in Austin to see SXSW shows is the next entry in this blog.

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