NOISE: SXSW beckons, grins widely, then swallows...

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I know what you're thinking. "Oh, poor you - poor you, having to hear so much music, drink so much beer, inhale so much barbecue, and party so hard with all those rock stars, random actors, and piles o' Texans." You can wipe that little sneer off your mug - it's unbecoming, and I see marionette lines in your faded future. Anyhoo, South By Southwest it was. Expect fresh dispatches daily, when I can slog back to a computer, from yours truly and contributor Kate Izquierdo. Pray for us.

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Who were the strange, frisky, equine-masked dudes making loud, frisky punk with a theremin, fer chrissakes? Rubber Robot, I'm told. All photos by Kimberly Chun.

Wednesday, March 14, I finally landed after missing my plane - again! - and hopping on a jet packed with bizzy types hailing each other in the aisles with, "John Schmoe! John Schmoe! Now I know it's going to be a good South By, seeing you." It's a big ole honking reunion partah down south for the music industry. But it's a working - and listening - excursion for me. So don't get me too Texas-toasted.

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A small sampling of the fliers, mags, and literature around the Austin Convention Center during SXSW. I wouldn't want to be handed a duster.

Early on I was looking forward to listening to talks by keynote speaker Pete Townshend, tropicalia pioneer and politico Gilberto Gil, and renewed Stooge Iggy Pop at the actual conference (Remember that? Sometimes it's tough with all the parties, brisket tacos, and 40s in the haus). I wanted to check out panels on the relevancy of music labels, selling music online, and the greening of the industry. I had goals, yes, goals however humble to see and hear, to name just a few, the Fratellis, the Good, the Bad and the Queen, Charlie Louvin, Ghostface Killah, Jay Reatard at the Goner showcase, Thurston Moore's new project at the Ecstatic Peace hoedown, Cyann and Ben, Peter Bjorn and John, Fujiya and Miyagi, and all those other bands of two names that actually include more than two members. Clever! Misleading! Pass the corned bread and shrimp tacos.

Honestly, despite that a cursory look at the overall fest bill left me slightly underwhelmed - no Whitehouse reunion this year - and other vets concurred. "Everytime you see a 'special guest' slot," said one, pointing to the SXSW showcase sched, "just think, 'Peter Townshend.'"

Maybe we're just jaded. Maybe we suck. Yet, ever the optimist, I say our cynical, overcooked state makes us ripe for having our minds blown. Blow me down, babies.

So to get things started, check out the typically Mardi Gras-with-live-music scene down Sixth Street, the entertainment hub, on Wednesday night.

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Pizza scarfing, street walking, and loud, loud music thundering down Sixth Street on a subdued SXSW Wednesday night in Austin, Texas.