Sorry to have ignored you, blog. South by Southwest is an all-consuming time and energy suck. I will do my best to recap. Apologies for the crap cell photos. I only took my camera out one night and it was too annoying to consider doing again.
How did the Betty’s fare? Pretty well, I’d say. We drank lots of free vodka and beer, ate free tacos, sushi, and all kinds of other great stuff. We visited the Paul Qui curated South Bites on several occasions.
An early highlight was heading home late one night and hearing the telltale wah wah guitar of Grupo Fantasma coming out of the Trophy Club on Sixth Street. Have you ever been to that bar? Me neither. But there’s a mechanical bull and a guy was riding on it standing up. And there’s a disco saddle hanging from the ceiling, so…I will definitely be back.
We spent the wee hours of the night dancing like fools and talking to the band, where we got the hot tip that Johnny Depp would be the special guest for Wednesday night’s Austin Music Awards. So, naturally, we spent Wednesday night at Austin Music Hall waiting for Edward Scissorhands to show up. He never did, but Gary Clark, Jr., ended up being the surprise guest and gave a great performance. It was a long night of great music punctuated by a really boring awards ceremony.
We spent another night at The Belmont, where there was a great lineup. We were there for hot acts Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and Action Bronson. It was a good crowd and the music was great. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Macklemore is exploding right now. He and his crew were clearly having the time of their lives and it’s nice to see hip hop come back around to a light-hearted, whimsical side. It’s been a while since rap has been fun.
We chose to do another night of hip hop at Empire Control Room, which might have the grossest bathrooms in Austin. But the rhymes were right and I’m a sucker for some good scratching. With the exception of one, all the acts were from NYC. I guess I’m looking to fill the hole in my heart left by the Beastie Boys. Most notable was Soul Khan from Brown Bag Allstars, who had the smooth flow that you just don’t hear outside the east coast. I also enjoyed the antics of Doppelgangaz, who had a huge doll on stage with them at one point.
SXSW is not for the weak. The parking, the crowds, the secret parties, the RSVP-juggling, the constant checking of Twitter for can’t-miss events. The walking. The traffic. The smell of beer everywhere. The people! Note: the Interactive attendees are nerdy cool, the Music attendees are dressed cooler and better for people-watching.
Some Mad Betty SXSW fun facts
Total paid for parking (over ten days): $21. My parking spots may not all have been 100% legal. But I parked free most days and not too far from the action. No, I cannot share my secrets with you.
Places I charged my cell phone: Trophy Club, ACL Theater, Empire Control Room, The Belmont, The Sheraton, Tap Room. The takeaway here is that it’s time to get a new phone. Farewell Droid, welcome iPhone. I give in.
Freebies included: Shampoo and Conditioner, Obama tattoo, tee-shirts, giant Post-its, Kind Bars, a Whole Foods gift bag full of goodies, a color-reactive cup, snap bracelets and other chotchky crap. I tried to minimize the free stuff I took, as I usually don’t want it. But I could have filled my apartment.
Some of the bands I saw:
- Action Bronson
- Alejandro Escovedo
- Ben Kweller
- Bill Carter and The Blame
- Budos Band
- Charles Bradley
- Charli XCX
- Como Mamas
- Gary Clark, Jr.
- Grupo Fantasma
- Icona Pop
- JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound
- The Lone Bellow
- Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
- Menahan Street Band
- Mister Loveless
- Open Mike Eagle
- Rockie Fresh
- Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
- Soul Khan
- Sugarman 3
- Talib Kweli
- The 4onthefloor
- The Tontons
- The Trishas
Did you go to SXSW? What were your favorite parts?