SXSW is a hugely successful festival that began as a small gathering of indie music bands and fans back in the 20th Century. While its current combination of music, film and digital business is a powerful one, its indie spirit is much smaller than its size. But talk of the next SXSW misses the mark. A wide range of festivals and gatherings have emerged to fit the indie spirit of the 21st Century and two great examples are the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, held in Cleveland, and the Northside Festival, taking place in Brooklyn.
Cleveland's Weapons of Mass Creation Fest
Weapons of Mass Creation Fest takes place in Cleveland June 8 through 10 for the low, low price of $60. But that doesn't mean it's cheap. It means it's accessible.
WMC Fest describes itself as the "premier art, design, and music event in the Midwest" and as a "young grassroots movement to inspire and enable the creative mind." This is its third year and they expect around 1000 attendees to experience and interact with 20 speakers, 20 designers and around 30 bands.
Though they say they're not trying to emulate other events, they do point out that "some have compared WMC Fest to SXSW...but with an indie/diy flavor", a statement that probably seems simply accurate to a young person. To an old guy like me, for whom SXSW once exemplified indie music, it's a true sign of the times.
But that's not a slam on SXSW, a festival that has made history. It's more a statement about the fresh energy of the WMC Fest which is focusing on timely topics, the continued importance of music as a creative force and the emerging recognition of design as a powerful cultural and social influence. However, the Speakers and Designers are still a step behind the Musicians who have a Free Music Sampler available for download.
Brooklyn's Northside Festival
Brooklyn's Northside Festival takes place June 14 through 21 and it's a bit bigger and more complex than WMC Fest. Billed as "NYC's largest and most accessible discovery festival", 80,000 attendees are expected to check out music film, art and entrepreneurship presentations from hundreds of participants." The badge options are also more complicated with the opportunity to spend a bit more as well.
But Northside Festival doesn't seem overpriced. Though the final details are still being sorted, there's an impressive array of musicians, films, panelists, and art events scheduled to date with the possiblity of more on the way.
New this year is a two-day Entrepreneurship component celebrating the emergence of young, creative business people as a social force.
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Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith blogs about business at Flux Research: Business Changes and about dance at All World Dance: News. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.