Not that anyone was waiting for it, but 2011 may have been the year that the interactive portion of the festival was bigger than the music portion. SXSW began 25 years ago as a music festival, and the shift is clearly reflecting real world changes.
Interactive parties were filled with live music from the hottest bands this year. Zynga featured the discordant NIN-like Sleigh Bells, while Facebook teamed with IFC to feature the Kills. In a surprise appearance, the Foo Fighters graced the tech crowd (distant pic above) with a first play of their new record, Wasting Light, at the Media Temple SXSWi closing party. 2000+ SXSWers packed into Stubbs to see the band, while music attendees could only stand on the other side of the fence, literally, to listen.
Much of the conversation during the music panels was around technology. The truth is, both sides could learn a lot from each other, especially as the publishing industry struggles with similar issues around content and payment.