By Dwayne Pride, VOICE vendor
Dwayne Pride visited South by Southwest in Austin, TX, this year. Below is his firsthand account of the experience.
Austin City Limits. Not to be confused with the longest running live music television show in American history. A place where thousands of people from around the country meet up to schmooze and network to the backdrop of some of the best music that is out there today.
That place is south by Southwest (SXSW) Music Conference, which has been around since 1987.
Austin Convention Center on Trinity St. is where most of the daily festivities for SXSW take place. Vendors from around the country sell their products and services to attendees from around the country—from around the world, really. Everything for people that are into music creation. There is a corporate atmosphere that supports everything that the attendees are there to do. Sponsors like McDonalds, Mazda, IFC, Miller Lite are there to lend a hand making it easier for people to get around downtown Austin while they are hanging at SXSW. Yet it is underground in many ways. There is a pervading feeling that encourages new artist involvement outside of the major rat race.
Austin is a really nice looking place. There are lots of eclectic looking houses and spaces ….inviting… makes you want to stick around the place to see what is going on. A Capital Metro Day Pass, Austin’s city bus, is $2.50, which lasts exactly twenty-four hours. Do you know the value of one hundred pennies? Well, that will get you everyplace in Austin. Getting around Austin was my only concern.
More than just living-out-of-a-bag-type of journey. The days and nights on the streets started to seem the same. Most of my time was spent in the actual downtown area of Austin. Venues, bars, the convention center, fast food, restaurants, and the streets played host to all of the events that were held. My focus was just the music that was going on all around. At some point I even looked around to see what the apartments were like, since there were talks of gentrification coming up in the area. Austin Resource Center is a place that I was referred to find out about shelter, but I could not get in touch with anyone.
But SXSW is also a showcase for technology and movies. So there is plenty to offer artists that are really trying to find opportunities. Everything there is what you make it. So much to do in a week (if you have that long). There is something for everybody. No one is probably there for nothing. Artists that take a shot at it may gain some exposure. There is a chance for anyone to be involved in the yearly showcase. Artists’ applications open up in July of 2015 for SXSW 2016.
As for this year:
March 17 -----March 21 -----------March 22. That was when it was all really going on in the city of Austin. Everything was really happening.
My list of things to do in Austin
Tue. Bus arrived late in Austin/ head to NYU New School info session at Hyatt House
Wed. Picked up a guest badge from Whole Foods/Go to the convention center to check things out / Ate some free food at McDonalds lounge/ Currensy, Wiz Khalifa, Kevin Gates, Ty Dollah Sign at the Yahoo! Lounge
Thur. Rhymesayers 20th Anniversary w/ Slug from Atmosphere/ IFC Party for great house music/ OkayFuture@Bungalow 92, then checked out Rae Sremmurd next door @Bar96
Fri. brunch @# HappySoundsLike UN event/ Talent showcase featuring Major Myjah, Gyptian, Opio, Angelo Moore (rain could not get an affordable hotel room)
Sat. Waterloo showcase feat Joey BadAss (more rain, stayed around the bus station)
Sun. --left early that morning
Everyone sampled beer day after day from Lite and Blue Moon. Stopping there made it easy to make it from point to point since it was the biggest booth before you walked out of the convention center onto Trinity St. And if you did not ever leave the convention center you could just hang out and take pictures or talk to the reps. Heads were all over the place taking pics for social media.
All in all it was a pretty good time. Without getting completely drenched or my bag coming up missing, it would have almost been perfect. One of the best things was getting picked up by the Mmmmmmazda girl after as I was on the way to the #HappySoundsLike brunch. She took me right to the place that I had to go. I thanked her, then gave her a Denver VOICE.
Colorado Music Party on 6th Street was a memorable place too. Just tons of people everywhere. Everybody who is anybody from the Denver music scene could have had the chance to play this venue that was dedicated to them and their involvement in SXSW. The place stayed crowded. So did the streets. It was definitely a blast! ■