SXSW 2013 music, film, and interactive festival review


For weeks I anticipated this event. It didn’t matter that it was an 18 hour drive from Chicago to Austin because it was all going to be worth it in the end, the memories and the experiences alike. In case you’re unfamiliar with this large fest, SXSW simply stands for “South by Southwest.” It’s a massive festival that lasts for 10 days and is divided up into sectors of 3 categories: film, interactive and, of course, music. It’s where thousands industry pros of gather to network, scout for talent, share, promote, educate, etc. This event is also open to the public.

March 12, 2013 (Day 1): I drove down South with a very respectable Chicago band called Ready To Live . They played 3 unofficial showcases throughout the fest bringing in a decent sized crowd to each. After an excruciating drive, we arrived around in Austin at around 7pm.

March 13, 2013 (Day 2): After reviewing my Facebook and Twitter statuses, I feel like more happened this day than what I’m about to share with you. SXSW had me all over the place. I wish there were 70 of me so I could experience it all. I caught an unofficial showcase from Noah Caine and Trillwave. The sun was setting as I made my way to a place called (and for the life of me, I could never say this venue’s name correctly) La Zona Rosa on 4th Street. After some crazy obstacles, the next thing I know I’m inside this freezing venue listening to Valentino Khan. I was ready to embrace this night. Fast forward a little bit. Baauer takes the stage as a headliner with Just Blaze. It was a solid first night. As I’m exiting the La Zona Rosa, my friend spots Just Blaze on the phone so we walked over for a picture and a brief conversation. He was as real as they come with a faint, raspy voice.

March 14, 2013 (Day 3): I was prepared to make this day my bitch. I wanted to catch as much as I could, meet as many people as I could and no matter what, I somehow HAD to see Dillon Francis in the flesh. Well, none of that happened at first. I ventured to a garage showcase drinking an IPA. Borgore was playing. He hops on the mic before a bass drop and suavely says, “I love you ladies.” Of course, Borgore. Later that night I found myself at La Zona Rosa again for the second night of the AM Only showcase. This night was an Electronic showcase. Prior to entering, I waited outside for some time. As I was waiting a tall, skinny, dirty blonde haired man walks up to security and asks “where should I enter?” He further explains that he’s playing a show tonight to the security guards. Eavesdropping on the entire conversation, I’m thinking “WHO IS THIS GUY?!” So I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “hi, I’m just curious..who are you?” With the sexiest British accent possible he smiles and responds, “I’m Alex Metric, what’s your name?” We shook hands and he proceeded with his task. I know, I’m a horrible blogger for not knowing who he was. But at least I didn’t act like a fan girl, right? I watched Popeska, then Alex Metric charge the crowd with energy. I moved from the general standing area to VIP. As I was standing there watching Alex Metric finish up his set, I took a look around me. Yasmine from Krewella and Leighton from Adventure Club were standing behind me, she with her head on his shoulder. I wanted introduce myself to both of them but Yasmine was gone by the time I decided to walk over. Krewella was now on stage, killin’ it as usual. I watched the crowd and their performance simultaneously. Every time Yasmine got on the mic demanding everyone to touch the sky, the deck I stood on rattled. I’ve seen Krewella play many, many times and at this moment, at this medium sized venue was when I realized that duh, this is why they’re famous. I don’t think anyone will ever get sick of seeing them live. Their stage performance is unlike any other. Zedd was now on stage and the venue was practically filled. There were glow sticks in darkness and I wanted more to drink. I calmly watched and listened to his set. I was actually trying to critically think/listen until one girl broke my focus and probably Zedd’s too. Out of absolutely nowhere, a fan from the front row of the crowd hops on stage, giddily runs up to Zedd and obnoxiously waves hello in his face. I’m talking about right in his face! I was pissed I didn’t catch it on camera because it was that type of random awkward humor that’s rare. After a guard gets her off stage another kid runs on stage and flashes his nips. He immediately ran off before the guard can run over. I’m sure everyone was saying “wtf?” Finally Wolfgang Gartner closes the night and in case you’re wondering, his set was pretty normal. I lingered around to try and talk to Wolfgang but it seemed like he was in a rush. I was only able to introduce myself. A crowd of people surrounded me in the VIP area so we all started getting to know each other. I noticed Mord Fustang standing directly across from me. Trying to think quickly, I said to him, “hey you played a show in Chicago recently, didn’t you?” His response: “No, I’m Joel Zimmerman.” He later reintroduces himself to me as “Po from the Teletubbies.” Gotta love him.

March 15, 2013 (Day 4): This day was fun. Being in Austin is a place where you HAVE to admire every street performers’ hustle because you’re surrounded by them. I grabbed almost every demo being passed out, and then I met Chance The Rapper and his manger. Pretty Dope. You’ll never know who you’ll see! The night took over and more fun was on the way. I headed to a bar called Maggie Mae’s. I stood side stage with some friends and started talking to the guy next to me. Little did I know he was The Underachievers manager. I really had no idea who they were before that. But hey, that’s what this event is for right? To discover and learn. I swung back over to La Rosa Zona or whatever and caught Tokimonsta set. Then I went back to Maggie Mae’s to catch xxyyxx performance. He played with a crowd of very interestingly dressed people surrounding him. He told security that it was alright for fans to dance on stage and once that was over my night was too.

March 16, 2013 (Day 5): I decided to wander around alone on this day. SXSW is fun when you’re with friends and meeting new people and getting hammered but sometimes you miss a great deal of what’s around you because you’re so caught up with other things. This day I walked alone. I didn’t talk to anyone, just observed. I observed everything that was around me and enjoyed the good music occupying the open space. I heard all genres being collected into one. Austin is really a beautiful town. Everything I saw was so rich in culture. I spent 3 hours wandering aimlessly and have the tan to prove it. One this final day I saw Modestep. Their set was undoubtedly fantastic. I remember seeing 1 beach ball, then 6 , then there were too many flying around to keep count, all of which bouncing off your head. Hate beach balls? Don’t worry! There was confetti and inflatable water creatures such as dolphins being released. I felt like the god damn Little Mermaid in an underwater rave. Modestep closed with their jam “Sunlight Hurts my Eyes” and the crowd went nuts. I was so happy leaving their set. On my way back to my temporary home, I was smiling really hard because I knew that my SXSW just ended on an amazing note. Right? WRONG IT GOT SO MUCH BETTER. As I was walking back, I turned the on the corner of some street and saw this majestic being walking, NO, gravitating towards me. My heart fell out of my butt and my jaw dropped. I whispered to myself “no fucking way.” About 500 ft in front of me was Dillon Francis holding his girlfriend’s hand. All I could think was “why am I the only one freaking out about this?!” “DO YOU PEOPLE KNOW WHO THAT IS??!” He was getting closer and I still had no idea what to say. Normally I can compose myself around artists and have a genuine conversation with them, but this was unreal. I’m pretty sure I saw his aura glowing from the distance; it was the same color of his hair. He was one step away from me. Shit. Quick, say something!!! Without thinking much, I touched his shoulder and said in the ditsiest way possible “oh my god heeeeyy!” I acted like a FANGIRL. Am I mad at myself for this? Yes. Does it make me smile every time I think about it? Absolutely.

I highly recommend everyone to attend SXSW. There is something for every one. You can hear stories but it’s something you just have to experience.

Thanks for sharing fam! Stay in touch!