R.E.M. Peter Buck at BackYard to see Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price

This was the year I went to the South by Southwest Music Conference & Festival and said, “Screw it.”

In its 21st year, the Austin, Texas, confab officially went over the top. Something like 1,400 bands were on the bill, and hundreds more played unsanctioned shows. An incomplete list of daytime events ran to 23 pages. Any SXSW attendee with enough stamina and some high-grade speed could see live music from, say, noon until 4 a.m.

On Friday, I opted for some personal space and slept in until 2 in the afternoon; on Saturday, the last night of the fest, I opted out completely and hit an out-of-town venue called the Backyard to see Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price. Waiting in line at the men’s room there, I ran into Peter Buck from R.E.M. Such is the nature of SXSW week in Austin.

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Chris Morris

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