There isn’t enough hyperbole in the world to illustrate the scope of South by Southwest (SXSW, Southby) and every year it gets bigger. Events will fill every available space in and around downtown Austin for two weeks as the entire city becomes one massive festival for the 17th SXSW March 7-16.
Everyone from Spin Magazine to Rachel Ray have events scheduled at every established venue, bar and restaurant in town. Even empty parking lots become stages. This year’s official start comes Friday, March 7, with the Film and Interactive portion, but major headlines have already been made. Celebrities like Zac Efron and Seth Rogan will be attending the Film and Interactive portion at The Facebook Live event, promoting their new movie “Neighbors.”
Julian Assange from Wikileaks is scheduled to appear via Skype at a SXSW Interactive event, as well as NSA leaker Edward Snowden. iTunes announced its first ever festival in the United States with huge names, including Keith Urban, Cold Play and even Soundgarden is set to perform the entire Super Unknown album (featuring “Blackhole Sun” and “Spoonman”).
News broke a few weeks ago that Lady Gaga was denied a permit by the City of Austin to perform at the Doritos Bold Stage (which also doubles as the world’s largest vending machine). But late Wednesday night, March 5, rumors became reality as a concert poster began to circulate on Twitter confirming the performance.
Many local artists make the short journey to perform during the March madness, but time is limited and I’ve got a few San Antonio related events on my radar: Stephanie Guerra from Puro Pinche will be a speaker at “Blogueras: Latinas & The Importance of Their Voice.”
People can expect the discussion to be centered around “female bloggers’ influence and how the landscape has changed in recent years,“ Guerra said. Growing up in San Antonio and blogging out of her own interest, Stephanie said thinking of herself “as a ‘Latina blogger’ is new to me – but across the country this is a part of larger picture of (Latinas in new media) that are really influencing a lot of people.” The panel , open to the public, will be held at Saturday, March 8, 3:30-4:30 p.m. at The Holiday Inn Town Lake in the Sunflower Room. I’m looking forward to this presentation because the conference aspect of SXSW becomes forgotten amid the celebrity sightings and free booze.
“Jazz for the Masses” is an annual, unofficial SXSW showcase organized by the online jazz magazine NextBop. San Antonio native and NextBop editor, Anthony Dean Harris, is also an on-air DJ at Trinity’s KRTU 91.7. The show will be headlined by the three-piece group from Toronto, BADBADNOTGOOD.
Their cinematic instrumental songs take you on a dark, yet exhilarating ride. The band gained notoriety in recent years, collaborating with controversial shock rapper Tyler, the creator of the hip-hop collective Odd Future.
Catch them and others Wednesday, March 12, 12-7 p.m. at El Sapo’s Cantina.
Nekkid Armadilla is an annual showcase hosted by San Antonio’s Tim Slusher. The showcase features Americana, folk and singer-songwriter musicians. This year’s show takes place at Lucky Lounge on 5th Street and will feature Central Texas artists Little Brave and be headlined by Glossary.
I will be live-blogging from these events on Twitter. Follow @PunkSoda for a real-time glimpse of San Antonio at Southby. Then check back next week for a review and recap of #SXSW2014.
PLAYLIST: PunkSoda’s 2014 SXSW Picks
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SXSW PRO TIPS:
- Be prepared to walk and be prepared to stand in line. Higher profile and corporate events with big names have lines that develop at 5 in the morning. To avoid lines, make a bold statement and try to see bands that are unknown (GASP!) I suggest finding an event with bands or a genre you care about, get there early and park it.
- Your RSVP may not even be checked. This annual ritual started somewhere around ’06 or ‘07 when TABC began enforcing rules related to providing free alcohol at events. The event coordinators were required to have a list of names of the people getting free drinks. The RSVP later mutated into what we see today: a way to create massive email lists for ad targeting.
- Have a plan B, C and D.
- Charge your phone and bring your charger with you. Cell services become clogged and it takes longer to post those pictures to Instagram and it eats your battery.
- Drink water. Eat tacos. Time can fly by and it is easy to lose track of how many trips you’ve made to bar. Staying hydrated with plenty of calories is key to maintaining a fun day.
And then there is Twitter. The ubiquitous social media site is useful for last minute show announcements and for keeping updated on any changes that might be happening. Staying informed helps you to find out if your Plan C or D is still an option.