yeah, i got more records than the k.g.b.

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Every year it’s the same thing. I’m not going. I’m ignoring it, too busy to attend, too old for a week of night after night of non-stop bar-hopping, long lines and overpriced beers. Usually I skip town all together. This year I was planning on serving as Official Babysitter to the TroubleKitten, but once that sadly fell through I was left with options open. Enter Gus.

Anyone who has ever click-wheeled through my iPod knows that I’ve got an eclectic taste in music. I am militant about what makes the cut, which has resulted in a hodgepodge of single-song artists known mostly to no one but music bloggers, DJs, and hipsters. And Gus. Lately the collection has been feeling a little stale, so I’ve been hitting the music blogs pretty hard to freshen Steve up. The unintended side effect of which has of course been to make my already music-centric self even more so obsessed. The workday iPod swapping with a friend just fueled the fire – more new music to discover, another person to expose my excellent taste to, music talk all day, Gus returning to Texas… I had ignored the first round of SXSW music fest wristband sales, but when the second round went on sale, I got in the virtual line and got mine.

Thanks to the anti-scalping efforts of this year’s SXSW organizers, Austinites now have another favor to ask of friends that ranks right up there with “Will you help me move this weekend?” or “Can I crash on your couch for a week or two?”. Gone are the days of the line snaking around Waterloo records, where you paid for your wristband and were free to do with it as you saw fit. Now you pay for it online and pick it up at the convention center a week later where it is immediately snapped around your wrist. Only those with Austin ID can buy, and good luck trying to get the thing off and on to someone else.

The Interactive portion of SXSW is always the first to start, drawing geeks and bloggers and gamers from all over the world. Downtown parking, which has never been easy, becomes impossible. Austinites in general have a love/hate relationship with SXSW. Love that we get to see awesome films, hear amazing music, benefit from thousands of people in town for weeks; but yet hate that there are thousands of people in town for weeks. Which is why when I rattled off the list of things we needed to do Sunday afternoon, I casually mentioned the one little stop I needed to make… and absolutely waited until after we had left the house and were in the car to do it.

Parking was relatively easy, requiring only a few laps around the block dodging badge-wearing SXSW’ers. Armed with instructions on which exhibit hall the music fest wristbands were in, Roomie and I entered the convention center and headed straight for it. Being the Interactive fest, it was geek central. Bloggers everywhere – playing with Legos, leaned up against the wall typing away on their laptops (no doubt blogging), talking on Blackberrys (look! I have one too!!), every single one of them texting, probably all to Twitter. (Hey, when in Rome…)

“You two look lost” said the woman handing out booklets when Roomie and I walked into the massive exhibit hall. He probably did have a blank what-the-hell-is-this-shit-she’s-gotten-me-into-now look on his face; me, my look was more of a OH MY GOD IT’S A ROOM FULL OF GEEKS PLAYING VIDEO GAMES HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN HERE AND WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME? Having zigged when we should have zagged, we walked into the ScreenBurn 2008 arcade, and well, it’s pretty much what I just said. Roomie responded to the nice lady by telling her we were looking for the wristbands, to which she nicely pointed us in the right direction. But of course, if we’re here…

I… I… wouldn’t mind taking a look around for a… while…” I said as I took a booklet from the woman up front, got the eye roll from Roomie and went on my way. “Remember sweetie, they don’t know what to do with a pretty girl” he cautioned. Warnings were unnecessary as I didn’t find anything that peaked my interest, other than the games of course.

I’ve often given thought to attending the Interactive Fest, as those are clearly my people – heck, they’re OUR people, they blog! – but haven’t since I didn’t consider myself official enough. But um, that’s dumb. For multiple reasons. And much like the music sharing getting me to the music festival, I think my little taste of the Interactive Fest might have me coming back next year for more.

And it’s not just for the ratio, I swear.