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SXSW Overflows All Over SHFL, Starting This Week [3/10/2010 01:54:00 PM]:
Oh, how I love me some acronyms... We're coming up on what I happen to think is one of the coolest local festival-type things to be found in this here city of ours, the quasi-annual SXSW Overflow Fest over at the most cheerily-named place in the Universe, Super Happy Fun Land.

From tomorrow, Thurs., March 11th, on through Wed., March 24th, the SHFL gang is playing host to a huge, quirky grab-bag of musicians and bands hailing from all parts of the U.S., plus a handful of other countries, encompassing pretty much any genre you can name. And best of all, unlike a certain festival that'll be taking place to the northwest of us, it's cheap as hell -- $8 for a night or a ridiculously low-ball $25 for the whole two-week deal.

I've missed out on the festival the past couple of years, unfortunately, but I went to a couple of earlier incarnations and had a ball. I view the Overflow Fest as sort of this Crackerjack Box-like event, where you never really know what you're going to get -- yes, I've seen a few bands that really and truly sucked, but barely twenty minutes later I'd have my mind blown by one of the bands that followed.

Past years have included folks like my personal fave Jonah Matranga, Tacks the Boy Disaster, Transmography, Nakatomi Plaza, & Two Ton Boa, plus several hundred lesser-known acts. It's an eclectic, chaotic, seemingly anything-goes thing, and I find that to be astoundingly cool.

In honor of this year's installment of the fest, I quizzed the Super Happy Crew a bit about their festival and how things generally work:

SCR: Where did the idea come from for the SXSW Overflow Fest? What's the basic goal?
SHFL: A ton of touring bands starting asking for shows in mid-March the second year we were open -- we opened in March so the first year, [so] we didn't have the festival, because none of the touring bands had heard of us yet. It was kind of hard to pick just a few bands, because so many of them were really really good and were desperate to play any timeslot they could, so we decided to open up those dates on pretty much a first-come, first-served basis.
There are thousands of touring bands from all over the world in the region for SXSW, and most of them would love to play shows outside of Austin, so that is where we come in; we cram as many into a two-week festival as possible. The goal is to bring touring bands to Houston and give them a place to play; it is fun for them and fun for us!
How do you find the bands to play? Or do they find you?
We have never asked for a band to play on the SXSW Overflow Fest; they all come to us. We don't advertise that we are looking for bands for the festival, either, and we have over 100 this year. We built it and they came.
Do you pick and choose who plays, or is it sort of anybody-goes deal?
Pretty much any touring band. We ask local and regional bands to pick a different time of year to play unless there are a whole bunch of open slots on that day or they are on tour with out-of-state bands, because we want to accommodate as many traveling bands as possible.
Are there any bands this year who you're particularly psyched about? Any big names?
Blowfly is the most famous guy this year; he is the original dirty rapper, before Luke Skywalker and 2 Live Crew. There are so many great bands on the lineup, it is hard to choose, or even remember which ones sound like what unless I go through their MySpaces one by one, since there are over 100 of them, but here are just a couple that sound interesting to me -- keep in mind I like really weird music:

What's the response been like to the Fests in years past? I know the last time I was able to come out, at the old location up in the Heights, there was a pretty good crowd...
We usually have a decent crowd for most nights; it can slow down during the week and for the afternoon and really late night parts of the show, but even if the crowd thins, there are still like ten bands a night, so that is at least 40 people to watch the show!
Did you guys put on the Fest last year, just out of curiosity? I can't remember if I saw it listed or not...
We did. We found out we could re-open on March 4th, so it was put together really fast, but we still had over 70 bands!

For the full lineup and times -- some of which have already changed pretty drastically since they first went up, so be warned -- check out the SHFL calendar page. I'm hoping to do exactly what the SHFLers mentioned above and listen to as many Myspace pages as possible, so keep yr fingers crossed for a sorta-kinda detailed rundown of who sounds like what and a list of my own personal picks. Or, hell, ignore me and just go and see what you get -- it's actually probably more fun that way, anyway.

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