We had already been smitten with Austin by the time South By South West rolled around, so the week and a half long festival was icing.
The first five days of SXSW is the interactive conference which is mellow for business hours and free parties afterwards. There were hundreds of well-dressed European computer-nerds meandering through town during the day and schmoozing at the open-bar dance parties at night.
Our first few nights we pretty much controlled every dance floor we were on. The Dutch are a good looking people, but they can’t hold their own against a double fisting gang of twenty somethings with nothing to lose. Thanks for the parties Netherlanders and you’re welcome for the show.
Then comes the music and film portion of the festival which brings a whole different crowd of people. There are fewer sleeves, more facial hair, dreadlocks, and tall bikes all day everyday for five days straight.
Sixth street is the party section of downtown and the epicenter for the mess that South By becomes when the music starts. We found ourselves there or close to there most nights at least. We took the good with the bad because the pungent smell of sixth accompanies free music both in the venues and outside.
For those ten days neither of us paid a cent to see the live music we were witness to. The opposite actually happened for Andrew as he found a photography gig through craigslist working with a photo booth company that posted up at venues and took photos for festival goers. Good shows, a new pair of all-stars, and fun people to work with, boom.
The final night was coincidentally St. Patrick’s Day. By then, the entire downtown, as Andrew put it best, becomes one big bar. There were thousands of people stumbling through one another to get home.
Despite the overwhelming nature of South By we had a positive experience and didn’t really feel as though we had missed out on anything, even though there were literally hundreds of shows including artists we both love.
The festival, like our trip, is a mixture of opportunities that’s most agreeable if taken in stride. The entire experience we had with SXSW was coincidental. We never planned on being in Austin during the festival, but we managed to stumble into some of the most fun we’ve ever had. The time we have is our own and wouldn’t be any better if we tried to maximize it and cramp our schedules. We never have a chance to do everything and we’ve found that “whatever will be, will be” is a good motto to live by in that regard. So we’ll stick to that and hope for something memorable.