To most Canadians, Dan Mangan’s known for two things: First, he’s known for being a Vancouver music staple, who built his name on hummable folk songs before dovetailing into proggier work with his band, Blacksmith. (And to bridge the gap between his older and newer work, while touring for Club Meds, Mangan brought Hayden and Astral Swans as support.) Secondly, he’s known for being a helluva nice dude—if you’ve read any of his interviews, critics are quick to call him nice. Loveable. Even teddy bear-like.
But as it turns out, Mangan’s a helluva funny dude, too. While at SXSW this week, he’s realizing what many of us know about the Austin festival: It’s the best, but it’s also the worst.
Yes, the music and media worlds congregate on the festival, but it’s also a networking nightmare: It’s full of tech entrepreneurs trying to sell you on their new weather app. It’s ram-packed with thirsty musicians, absolutely desperate for any recognition. It’s a branded hell, where you’re bombarded with free bags of Doritos and Camel cigarettes [ed: wicked.]. It’s a celebrity-watching hole, chock full of tales of SXSW past (remember when Bill Murray served shots at a bar? Ugh). And maybe worst of all, it’s obsessed with talking about itself, its perfect weather, its tacos, its food trucks, and its status as the—truthful—centre of the universe. It’s perfect, but it’s also humiliating.
This is the world Mangan waded into. And we’re thankful that he did, as he’s posting up updates on Twitter. Read his hilariously sad, bizarrely existential, and frequently on-point SXSW commentary above.