On any given night in the big little city on the banks of the Colorado River, you can walk around and hear faint guitar riffs and aromas of Texas Barbeque. There is rarely any honking or intricacies in finding that perfect spot to lock up your bike before venturing onto a rambunctious Red River Street. However, this gaiety that consistently engulfs the city of Austin goes through vicissitudes in mid-March. SXSW undeniably has grown to become a global event where even the most prestigious of people, the likes of Obama and Nardwaur the Human Serviette make Austin a destination of theirs. This global epicenter of music, film and technology for one week transpires with a subtle juxtaposition between the good, the bad and the ugly of SXSW.
Free Events & Cross Genre Availability
Every year, people plan, strategize and mobilize to take advantage of the cultural festivities. The immense amount opportunity during SXSW is astounding. There are copious amounts of free drinks, food, gear, and shows. This is great in 2017, where the tagline is ‘pay to play’ and that’s not the case at SXSW. Over 2,000 bands of nearly every genre, sub-genre, and musical classification you can think of coming into town to perform. Some are known, but most are coming to accomplish a dream of playing at the revered SXSW. For music lovers, this buffet spread of music is like eating at Caesar’s Palace premium buffet with no limit on your company’s credit card. What other place in the world are you able to see a hip-hop act while drinking a whiskey ginger and then walk across the street to another venue to catch a British punk rock band while drinking a beer? This is one of the great pieces of SXSW.
Beyond all the layers of all the booze, food and music, SXSW generates an incredible economic impact for the city. In 2016, over $325M was generated for the local businesses and government. Diving a layer deeper, SX Good was created, a showcase for non-profits around the city. SX Good provides formidable exposure to these various causes. Whether it is Austin Pets Alive having the chance to provide adoption opportunities and awareness to festival goers or Marta Riggins of Pandora. She gathered over 50 people at SXSW 2016 to put together care packages for the local homeless shelter of Austin, the festival provides circumstances for the goodness to come out of people’s hearts. The scale of SXSW provides the biggest impact Austin otherwise would find difficulty in achieving.
Pandora was back at SXSW for the sixth year in a row! Each day offered a range of music as diverse as Austin itself, spotlighting artists across the musical spectrum every day had something for everyone. The lineups were fine tuned to make sure they brought the best music that could be enjoyed by a wide range of music enthusiasts. Pandora did an amazing job of branding their events offering RSVP wristbands and an exclusive experience once you enter the Pandora area. You’re surrounded by refreshments, games, chances to win T-Shirts and prizes.
At only 18 years of age, Streatham, South London based rapper Dave (aka Santan Dave) is already leaving a lasting mark on the UK rap scene and beyond after the independent release of his debut ‘Six Paths’ EP in September 2016, which saw him debut at #6 on the iTunes album chart & #1 on the Hip-Hop chart. Created with production partner 169 alongside Grammy Award winning producer Fraser T Smith (Adele, Cee Lo, Sam Smith, Stormzy), the six track EP perfectly showcases the intelligent wordplay and social commentary that Dave has become synonymous for. The palpable sense of excitement around the young rapper has seen his debut UK headline tour sell out within 30 minutes of going on sale, not to mention earn him famous fans from Stormzy to Drake, with the Canadian artist recently remixing Dave’s track ‘Wanna Know’. We got the chance to see this old soul deliver one of the best performances at SXSW.
Born in Toronto, Jessie Reyez started singing at a young age. Inspired by her father’s talent for playing acoustic guitar, and singing Colombian boleros, Jessie was destined to be a creative herself. Creating came naturally to Jessie, as she began writing lyrics and adopting her father’s talents for the guitar. Keeping the music as authentic and raw as possible has been the most important constant to her art from the day she first put pen to paper. Lyrics of insecurities, dark fantasies and lost love alongside minimal production allow her music to live with no makeup. Check out a glimpse of this emerging artists raw and edgy performance.
Lines and Exclusivity
With the yin comes the yang. The sunshine comes the rain. Without darkness there is no light and SXSW is not exempt. With all the good parts that were just outlined, there are equal parts that compel people leave Austin when SXSW arrives. With every free music, booze or food event, comes a massive line. The bigger the bill, the bigger the line. Remember the old Nokia phones with the snake game? Imagine your high score but in the form of a line. Hundreds and hundreds of people waiting in anguish, trying to avoid sobering up in the hot sun and transforming into an agitated rampage because the event only has capacity for badge/wristbands, even after waiting for hours. This issue of exclusivity is spreading more than strep throat in colleges. The Fader Fort is invite only, Pandora House is a fortress to get into(I mean if you didn’t RSVP for a wristband) and you want to see Lil’ Wayne and Friends at Stubb’s? Be prepared to wait for 4 or more hours at least. It is as if someone opened Pandora’s Box and the evil of exclusivity has plagued the festival. This leaves people feeling that SXSW is no longer meant for music discovery because of the sheer complexity of exclusivity so why bother standing in Line by Line West.