Little Monsters & Super Freaks: Lady Gaga &Neil Young Deliver SXSW 2014 Keynotes

neil Young hat crop

The South By Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference and Festival runs March 11-15 in Austin, natch.

 By Uncle Blurt

 Back in 2006 at SXSW Neil Young made for an intriguing, at times inscrutable, but thoroughly entertaining, keynote artist. Now comes word that he is returning to do it again, this time on Tuesday, March 11, at 5:00 pm at the Austin Convention Center. He will be unveiling his much-talked-about PonoMusic, called “a revolutionary new service aimed at providing studio-quality music in digital form.”

 “Our goal was to offer the highest quality digital music available from all the major labels with the world’s greatest sounding, user-friendly portable music player.  We’ve achieved our goal and we are excited to launch our Kickstarter campaign next week to invite music lovers everywhere to join the PonoMusic community and reserve a PonoPlayer for their own enjoyment,” said John Hamm, CEO of PonoMusic.

 Wait, what? You telling me that Neil Freakin’ Young needs a Kickstarter campaign to fund his project?

 At any rate, the PonoPlayer is described as “a purpose-built, portable, high-resolution digital-music player designed and engineered in a “no-compromise” fashion to allow consumers to experience studio master-quality digital music at the highest audio fidelity possible, bringing the true emotion and detail of the music, the way the artist recorded it, to life. It also features a convenient, easy-to-use LCD touch screen interface that is totally intuitive. The PonoMusic desktop media management application allows customers to download, manage and sync their music to their PonoPlayer and other high-resolution digital music devices.” 

 Well, all right! Expect a little of Neil and a lot of marketing schtick at his keynote. Maybe Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine will be on hand as well.

 Lady Gaga SXSW

Meanwhile, incoming attendees for SXSW received further word of a major iimpending clusterfuck hitting Austin this week: Lady Gaga will also be a keynote artist this year. Led by John Norris of Fuse, it will take place on Friday, March 14, at 11:00 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Austin/Downtown.

Wait, what? We’ll all be in Austin days earlier, most of us by Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. Two or three days later, by Friday 11a.m., nobody’s going to be in any shape for a late-scheduled, sit-down talkathon.

Traditionally, the keynote ceremony has taken place on either Wednesday evenings or Thursday mornings, with artists as lofty as Young, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed, Dave Grohl, NRobert Plant and Pete Townshend easily slotting into those timeframes. That only makes sense, given that a keynote delivered as late as Friday means delivering to a crowd that is already 2/3 done with the entire event, not to mention 2/3 out of energy.

Still, expect a MAMMOTH logjam at the Convention Center on Friday… hell, outside the ConCenter for that matter, just to get near it, given all the nutty Little Monsters that will no doubt be descending on Austin now that the news is out, nevermind the fact that none of them will be registered to attend SXSW.

Anyhow, here’s the press poop from SXSW central:

The annual keynote is one of the most highly anticipated events at SXSW, and with this Lady Gaga joins an impressive roster of past keynote speakers including such music legends as Lou Reed, Dave Grohl, and Bruce Springsteen.


Lady Gaga’s keynote will be open to Music and Platinum registrants and Showcasing Artists with wristbands, and follows her prior night’s performance on the Doritos BoldStage at Austin’s legendary Stubb’s benefitting the Born This Way Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to empowering youth and creating a kinder and braver world. In 2011 she also built & launched a social network just for her fans,


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