15 minutes in and I can say thirty plus with a badge will seriously change your whole sxsw world. Lard. Plowing through my “big bag” of goodies unearths 3 (3!) pairs of earplugs, “the entertainers secret” throat softener spray thing (with my cold this is a score, and I can say those entertainers really are onto something, works like a charm), pretzels, a powerbar (instantly got killed), matches, a monster energy drink, condoms, a pin, a first aid kit (thanks aol!), charming “key covers” from myspace, three what appear to be nation-state funded promotional packets (the “German Music at SXSW” one features a welcome statement from the parliamentary state secretary of the federal ministry of economics and technology, the “British Music at SXSW” looks like a beautiful graphic novel), dozens of stickers, a pill-shaped keychain, 9 promo CDs, copies of Music and Musicians, American Songwriter, Guitar Player, The Best Buy Gear Guided, Music Connection, the Austin Chronicle, Paste, Filter, Exclaim! (?), and a calendar from Sony Music International (weirdly low budg, lookin’ like your church’s (I know you got a church) annual spring barbecue poster). After sifting through this bag of nonsense I am surrounded, in my plush leather Austin convention center seat, with plastic and paper befitting a kid under the xmas tree. As the pretty tattood rockers pass by on their way to wrist-band pick up I feel very much the dude with a big canvas bag full of crap. 15 minutes into my 4th sxsw, I’m discovering that old music fest truism: if you a) pay enough or b) get a company of some sort to cover you, you will get a giant bag of stuff that will both make you feel like you hit some crap-lottery and that you are singularly responsible for destroying the effing planet. Thanks Miller Lite, Sonicbids, Chevy, Zone Perfect, IFC, AOL, Monster Energy, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, and The Chronicle (your officialy sponsors)! I’ve been needing ear plugs. And those key covers are pretty cute.