With Austin, Texas and the crazy happenings of SXSW firmly in my rearview mirror, I’ve had the time to rest my feet, regain hearing and reflect back on my fond and a few not-so-found memories. These were the 5 best moments of SXSW and the 5 worst moments of SXSW 2013.
Top 5 Worst SXSW Moments
As great as SXSW is, there are also those moments that make you question if you’re getting too old for this and if you’ll return next year. Fortunately, the good usually outweighs the bad, but it’s still important to be aware that SXSW is exhausting and not always a walk in the park. Here are some moments that dragged the festival down.
5. Lines. I knew to expect lines, but this year it seemed like there were lines just to wait in lines. If you wanted to go to a Myspace show or exclusive party later in the evening, you had to spend a few hours in a line in the morning. And as much as I love volunteers, because the people running these lines were inexperienced, that often meant these things moved at a snail’s pace. There has to be a way to move these things along quicker.
4. Overpacked places. Yes, we all want to get into the “it” show, but it sucks when the venues oblige by pushing their establishment well past fire safety codes. It also doesn’t help that Austin is hot and SXSW attendees aren’t the best about staying hydrated. And people, it’s not always worth it to see an act when you can’t even move or are so crammed in that you can’t even see. Besides, there’s a good chance that act has like five more shows at the festival.
3. People just being plain rude and dumb. A lot of the workers at SXSW are volunteers, so it’s really obnoxious when these poor folks have to fight off drunks, linecutters or dumbasses that think they can sneak into VIP. People, just behave yourselves at this festival so you don’t ruin it for everyone else.
2. Rumors. The rumors were out of control this year. Sometimes it’s better to just walk into a random venue and enjoy a new act rather than sit on the capitol building steps checking Twitter for a Daft Punk performance that is not going to happen.
1. Pedicabs and traffic in general. Pedicabs, I wanted to like you and support you, but a vast majority of you were just jerks to pedestrians and drivers. Follow the road rules and don’t endanger people unnecessarily. Of course, the traffic problems weren’t entirely on you. I saw plenty of close encounters with unaware or drunk drivers and I even saw one pedestrian get hit by vehicle. Let’s all try to do better and be safer next year.
Top 5 Best SXSW Moments
The thing about SXSW is there are thousands of great acts and brands all fighting for attention. So to be the best, you couldn’t just be good. You had to be memorable (and memorable without being gimmicky or else you’d be on my worst list). So here’s my best moments of SXSW 2013.
5. Hanging with people that you never normally hang with. There are so many amazing people at SXSW that it’s really easy for the celebrities, musicians, bloggers and regular people to all just chill and chat. I was able to walk right up to Fall Out Boy on the street and they happily answered questions for me. Rachael Ray gave me a hug. I made friends at a bar with some fun Austin guys and of course, I made countless friends just chatting music with random people in lines to get into venues.
4. Surprise performers. There were tons of surprises at this year’s festival. From the Myspace Secret Shows with Sleigh Bells & Justin Timberlake to the special guests that artists brought out. It boggles my mind that I saw T.I. come out with Travi$ $cott as a simple guest artist when he is headlining sold out arenas. I loved that Macklemore had his entire posse with him for his shows because without that, I’d never really know the amazingness of Mary Lambert. I also loved that artists like the Flaming Lips teased about some of the hyped performers like JT before bringing out Jim James as a guest. If you caught a surprise artist, you felt like you had the hottest ticket in town.
3. Freebies. This is kind of a weird “best” moment, but if it wasn’t for some of the freebies I got at this festival, there’s a good chance that I would have passed out from dehydration. The Green Lounge gave out much needed reusable water bottles, free phone battery swaps kept me in touch with my group and free snacks gave me the ability to walk those extra necessary blocks to get to my next show. I owe the people handing out freebies so much gratitude.
2. The bands that warranted an encore. With so many bands in Austin playing really tight schedules, the expectation for encores was low. Audiences rarely asked for them. But when they did, you knew you were seeing a really special act. Icona Pop, Twenty One Pilots and Capital Cities were some of the best bands that I saw during the entire festival, and as a consequence each act was asked for an encore even though weren’t headlining their respective showcases. Icona Pop and Twenty One Pilots happily and humbly obliged, but sadly Capital Cities didn’t have enough time to fulfill the request. It’s safe to say that I would see any of those three bands again in a heartbeat.
1. Samsung. Samsung owned SXSW. Hands down. They were really just doing things officially for the Interactive portion of the festival, but they kept their marketing going all through the music portion. Everything they did was just brilliant. They had the basics covered with a lounge for people to cool off and test some products in. They had little freebies that they were giving out. But one of my favorite initiatives that they dis was the ability for Samsung users to tweet #powerup for a Samsung volunteer to ask for a DM of that person’s location to bring them a fully charged phone battery. This is GENIUS. Everyone’s phone’s are on massive power drains during this festival, so this was a great way to be useful, but also get a great buzz. I loved making the Apple jealous just from this awesomeness. The other big thing that Samsung did was to host a scavenger hunt. Using the NFC technology on the Samsung phones, users could unlock exclusive giveaways all over Austin. As if getting free cupcakes, beer and coconut water wasn’t enough, users that unlocked all of the freebies around town were then given FREE tickets to see Prince play at an intimate venue. What a great way to close out SXSW and make sure that you were the brand that everyone was rightly talking about.
Read my Tuesday photos/recap, Wednesday photos/recap,Thursday photos/recap, Friday photos/recap and Saturday photos/recap.