Four Reasons Why P4K’s SXSW Coverage Was A Disaster


I find it slightly embarrassing that the blog responsible for “discovering” so many bands used SXSW to see all the bands they have already endorsed. From The XX to the list of other Best New Music bands…it seems like Pitchfork used the greatest week in music to discover new acts as a way to catch all the music they already loved. Now, this assumption is based off their coverage…hopefully they had an entire different staff out there discovering new acts…but I don’t see it reported in their SXSW coverage.


Being in the music blog world, I can pick out most of the Pitchfork staff in a lineup. On three occasions I witnessed a P4K contributor show up to a show late, grab a free drink, catch one-two songs, take a quick photo and leave. I was shocked when two of these instances showed up as reviews the next day where the contributor wrote as they had absorbed enough of the show to be able to pass judgment. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the two reviews where I know the contributor showed up late were both negative…which is unfair to the band and the readers who use Pitchfork to gauge which bands are worth checking out. As much as I give P4K a hard time, I always gave them credit for working hard and being very detailed oriented in most of their work…after SXSW and seeing two contributors catch one song and pass judgment…that respect is gone.

2.) Amy Phillips

Amy Phillips is now my least favorite person on the Internet, sorry Ezra. Her coverage was brutal to the point of being entertaining to see what she would say next. She threw in these fifth grade lines that made me wonder if she even gave a damn:

Vocalist Jon Gray looked and sounded like he snorted a pack of Pixy Stix in the bathroom right before the set”

“The reverb made the music spookier, more goth.” (Really? Reverb makes music spooky?)

“I'm Julianna and I'm gonna sing some sweet, soothing songs for you tonight," Julianna Barwick announced to open her set. And there are few worse places to experience those sweet, soothing songs than in a tent in a parking lot full of drunk industry networkers with a metal band playing next door. (The middle of a construction site? An airport runway?) Going into this performance, I guessed that Barwick's gorgeous vocal manipulations are best heard in solitude, on headphones or in a quiet room where you can be alone with your thoughts. And this confirmed it. The music may be beautiful, but in addition to not being able to hear it very well, there isn't much to look at. Barwick stands stock still, singing and fiddling with knobs. The metal band playing next door sounded pretty good, though.”

If you knew that she would be better in a smaller venue where a metal band would drown her out, maybe you should have sought out one of the eight-ten other places she played. Also, what is the name of the metal band you enjoyed? SXSW is about discovery…why didn’t you go next door and give that name to the readers…oh, wasn’t on your P4K list to cover?

My favorite thing (the thing that makes me not like this Amy P) is how she cares much more about how things look than how they sound. (NOTE: These reviews are at most two paragraphs long…she choose to write about the look for more than half a few times) EXAMPLES:

“The placement of the band's double-x logo on producer Jamie Smith's speaker cabinets fell directly in line with the big wooden cross on the church's back wall, creating a juxtaposition of the spiritual and the carnal.”

“Producer/DJ Sammy Bananas, a wimpy dude in a suit and tie and bushy mustache, looked like the president of the Math Club who lucked into taking the most popular girl at school to the prom.”

My favorite: “Plus, Javelin's usual stage setup of a homemade tower of altered boom boxes was also missing.”

Who cares? I caught Javelin at a different show and it was the best show of the week. The music was tight, clever, fun, and unique. I too had seen a picture of the band playing before with boom boxes behind them…but could care less about the visual…plus, how much of an ass do you have to be to down a band for not wanting to lug eight boom boxes around Austin for the six shows they played that day? Did you give them credit for playing that many shows, their love of music, how impressively kind they are to each and every fan, the amazing music they played…no you care about color boom boxes and that Amy Phillips, that is why I don’t like you. (tweet me sometime).


I don’t have much to say…the P4K photos of SXSW are bad…really bad…really really bad. I would love to post the photos, but don’t want to get sued. Here are the links:

Whoever took this photo should be fired. Scratch that…who ever allowed this photo to be posted should be fired:

MORE CRAP: (maybe making a Washed Out pun?)
And so on and so on.

They have money right? They have more money than Rawk Blog and You Ain’t No Picasso who took amazing photos of the whole week. I, like most of you, will continue to read Pitchfork, they do some good stuff and have a large amount of amazing exclusives…but guys, you really dropped the SXSW ball. (the SXSW ball line is inspired by the writing of my mentor Amy Phillips).

Our review of SXSW will be up at the end of the week and if Amy P wants to write the same type of review bashing our coverage, I'll post it on our site to be fair.


  1. I can't speak to the write-ups or the staff, as I only read P4K for news every blue moon or so and I have no idea who works for them except I think that fluxblog guy is on there sometimes or something... So, I will only comment on the photography, something I do outside bloggerin' & day-jobberin'. Wow. I can take a better photo with my Palm Pre while I'm riding my bike, in the dark, on the interstate, while eating a banana, sucking down propel.

    PLEASE tell me those were shot with an iPhone or something, because whoever shot them should return their most likely 3x more expensive-than-mine dSLR to Ritz Camera and put those $3G's large back in P4K's coffer. They, honestly, make out-of-focus, mirror shot, amateur porn look like "good quality" photography.


  2. pwnz0red! Great write-up. Can't say I read Pitchfork much, but I should probably head over there and check their coverage out right about now.

  3. Everything you said is spot on. P4K barely even tried. And those photos are fucking atrocious.

    Except you ragged on Amy for describing what the place/people/set up looked like. I mean, isn't that part of the live experience? I understand that she barely talked about the music/performance, but one of the reasons I read reviews of live shows is not just to find out what songs the band played and how much energy they had, but what the atmosphere was like, how the stage was set up, all that shit. As terrible of a writer she is, I don't think you should fault her for trying to let people know what their eyes missed, as well as their ears.

  4. I feel like the photo or video in a blog post works as a way to set the scene for the reader. If it was a huge review then go ahead...describe away...but in a two paragraph review I don't want complaints about boom boxes missing.

    I agree with you Justin that it's important to report the mood/things that can't be shown in a photo...not sure if she did that.

  5. totally agree except one thing. you gave Pitchfork too much credit for discovering bands. they don't discover. they wait to see who everyone else thinks is cool and then expand it to a broader audience.

  6. I've seen better photos from 1940's grade school books.

  7. Great criticisms, especially about the writing. Your criticism here may be harsh, but it's totally healthy--if P4K ever reads it, they could take it to heart and make improvements. Amy Phillips criticism and comments on the other hand are generally non-sensical and a bit mean-spirited. What's the point of writing if you're just going to be a dick?

    Read an interview yesterday where Katrina Ford of Celebration makes that point:

  8. You lost me at "the greatest week in music". Srsly? That's fucking retarded. You couldn't pay me to go to SXSW.

  9. It's a poorly worded sentence...I was saying SXSW is the best week to find new artists and a large quantity of it has 1,000's of bands ranging all backgrounds and genres.

    As for the best week of music...not sure when that is, but SXSW was fun.

  10. Guys, the best week in music is art rock.

  11. I've never discovered a new artist/band @ Pitchfork.

    Great sites: