As you all know from reading the ‘About’ page, I am a lowly college student, and this year for spring break a few of my friends and I decided to stay in Austin and go to SXSW. If you don’t exactly know what SXSW is, i’ll briefly explain it to the best of my ability. The SXSW official website states: “The South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW is the premier destination for discovery”. The festival lasts longer than a week (technically two weekends and a week), and will test even the toughest of individuals. It’s a week of walking, accumulating free swag, waiting in line, partying, dancing, networking, etc., and it’s something everyone has to experience once in their life. If you’re broke, like us, and need a broke girl’s guide to everything SXSW, NO FEAR, we have an article for that. SXSW has four badge options: interactive, music, film, and platinum (boujee goals as fuck, allows you entry into any event pretty much). These badges designate the events you’re allowed to go to, or get priority to; usually this only matters for SXSW official events, something you’ll have to take into account when planning your SX schedule. In the weeks before SXSW, big companies and brands will start rolling out RSVP’s to their events happening during the week (this can be overwhelming, and there are a lot of local Austin companies who live for making master spreadsheets of all the official SXSW events). Different companies will buy out restaurants, bars, or spaces in the Downtown Austin area, and turn them into lounges, or musical venues.
For example: In the picture above I (day-drunk Noelle) am fiercely battling, and losing, to a robot in the Dell lounge. Company lounges, like the Dell Technologies lounge, also often hold events, panels, have free drinks, free food, musical performances, etc., so you really have to stay in the know. The best way to do this being checking the SXSW app, planning a schedule with multiple options for all times of the day & night, and following your favorite companies on all their social media accounts.
SXSW is also a huge conference, and hosts thousands of panels, key notes, exhibitions, etc., so while all the free drinks and sponsored lounges are fun, don’t sleep on the conference schedule. Some of the biggest speakers this year included Elon Musk, Spike Lee, Michael Dell, etc. Needless to say, SXSW is a crazy experience where free alcohol is easier to find than free water, and everyone experiences it differently. Here are a few of my personal favorite SXSW events from 2018.
The VICELAND bus is always a SXSW hit. VICELAND is a T.V. channel under the umbrella of the Vice company, a new media website that has a channel for literally everything (they’re pretty cool, second best to groovygirlblog of course). The VICELAND bus was parked on 98 Red River Street, and greeted guests with free swag, baby goats, and a secret party inside the bus that you had to wait in line for (pictured above).
We never ended up getting on the bus, because we were too drunk by the time we made it over to them, but the vibe of the lounge was a total hit. The bus was parked on a large patch of fake grass, had party music blasting, and had a nice black and white aesthetic, and honestly aesthetic is everything to a day drunk blogger with a disposable camera.
Bravo’s Cocktails & Con’s Party
Bravo came in heavy this year at SXSW, promoting for their new show ‘Imposters’. The ‘Cocktails and Con’s’ Bravo party was at 800 Congress, and had free saffron infused drinks, something I think is very important for any successful party, yummy bites rotating around the room on little silver trays, and a performance by Flo Rida. Of course, being college students, an open bar is basically insinuating a blackout (because if you don’t blackout at an open bar isn’t that equally as disrespectful?? This is a philosophical question feel free to discuss). The fact that they were ~saffron infused~ and just generally not Everclear/Taka (if you don’t know what these two liquors are, count your blessings) didn’t help either. By the time Flo Rida came on stage I was so saffron infused that they could’ve put a mannequin wearing Gucci sunglasses up there with a DJ playing background music, and I probably wouldn’t have noticed. (but also I generally had no clue what Flo Rida looked like, previous to this experience, so maybe could’ve been fooled sober as well??)
Going into the concert I was like “ok well I know Flo Rida has that one song ‘Low’, but I don’t really know any of his other songs”. WRONG. Flo Rida is so underrated, and has made so many pop-rap hits, which I knew, but had forgotten were his. He started the concert with ‘My House’, then went on to ‘Right Round’, ‘Good Feeling’, ‘Whistle’, ‘GDFR’, then finally got to ‘Low’, and brought about half the crowd (it was a smaller crowd) on stage with him to dance. Finally, he finished his concert with ‘Club Can’t Handle Me’. Needless to say we will be pre-gaming with only Flo Rida from now on.
Coffee and Mayhem – Featuring: Black Girl Nerd & DMC
Coffee and Mayhem is a podcast that describes itself as “From outlandish spur-of-the-moment exploits with celebrities, to “Squeegee Men”, and past relationships, Darren Passarello tells you the absurdities of his “unique” life amongst the long boxes”. This live podcast taping was hosted by the podcast sharing company TuneIn. Unbeknownst to us, the podcast taping was also a happy hour, and the guest speakers were DMC, from Run-D.M.C, and Jamie Broadax, from Black Girl Nerds.
During the podcast, comic books were heavily discussed, seeing as DMC just released his new comic book, and Jamie Broadax runs her own podcast, and blog platform, focused around comic book heroines. The talk was very interesting, and even included a motivational speech from DMC about overcoming depression, finding your passions, and embracing your true self. If I had woken up that morning knowing I would get a motivational speech from DMC I would have put a little more effort into my look…or at least taken off the previous night’s makeup.
Actually, no, I probably wouldn’t have.
NPR Music’s Public Radio Showcase
Tank & The Bangas, a New Orleans musical group, brought the live energy, and had everyone in the crowd jumping, spinning, shaking and screaming random ‘repeat after me’ phrases. The band was founded by Tarriona “Tank” Ball, who first gained notoriety as a slam poet, which she seamlessly integrates into the group’s unique musical style. The group’s music is a fusion of spoken-word, soul, funk, pop, jazz and hip-hop, and even features some unconventional instruments like flute and saxophone. Tank & The Bangas was great at participating with the crowd, and even managed to coerce the entire crowd into ‘getting low’, so we could all jump up together; which is not a super easy feat with a crowd of 500+ people.
August Greene is the new collaborative project featuring Common, Robert Glasper, and Karriem Riggins. The group has it’s own music, which is available on AmazonPrime, but also performed a lot of classic Common songs. Most notably they performed ‘GO’, by Common, and Common came out into the crowd and walked around while singing. I touched Common, and that’s all I have to say about that.
Sony Music Showcase
Leikeli47 was the first act we saw, and we were all thoroughly shook. If you haven’t herd of Leikeli47 before, thank your lucky stars, because you’re about to be blessed. She absolutely dominated the stage in her trademark face-mask while playing hits from her new album “Wash & Set”. She had three badass dancers, dressed in all black, backing her up on stage. The crowd was small, and consisted mostly of people who had never herd of her before, but that didn’t phase Leikeli47 at all. Her high-energy, catchy, female empowerment hip-hop tracks had everyone in the crowd dancing, and singing along by the end of her set. Leikeli47 was definitely the most underrated artist I saw during SXSW, and probably one of my favorite shows.
The night ended with a set from America’s sweetheart Khalid. Khalid performed his entire album “American Teen”, along with his new song from the Black Panther Album, ‘The Ways’. The first time I saw Khalid was last May, right after the release of his first album. Khalid came on stage with a mic and chair, and just sat and sang to pre-recorded background tracks. This concert was a very different experience. Khalid, clad in a bright pink windbreaker, and accompanied by two backup dancers dressed as cheerleaders, danced around, interacted with the audience, did what looked like multiple split jumps, and even had some choreographed dance moves. I mean, I like Khalid and all, but he has felt more emotions in one album than I will feel in my entire life. Also he’s 20. If you think relationships are confusing now, well, well, well, how the turntables….
All jokes aside, Khalid was great, and he called out a woman in the crowd who has gone to every single one of his concerts, which is actually crazy.
Urban Outfitters Live
Urban Outfitters had free concerts all week, so we decided to stop in for the small Australian girl duo, Mallrat.
The atmosphere of Urban Outfitters was a lot of fun, and free entry also gained you two free locally brewed beers! Mallrat performed their new aged, disco-esque, pop jams to a small, yet receptive audience. Although I had never herd of Mallrat before seeing them live, their dance tracks like ‘For Real’, and ‘Uninvited’ instantly pulled me in, and the duo had no problem getting the crowd to vibe and dance during their set.
Heart Beats Loud
Heart Beats Loud was the only film we saw during SXSW. The film was directed by Brett Haley, and stars Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation, just in case you recently came out of a 10 year coma, and/or live under a rock in Bikini Bottom.) This independent film has actually been picked up by major production companies, and will be debuting in theaters within the year, so I won’t divulge any of the major plot points. The movie was very warm and fuzzy, and did indeed give you all the ooey, gooey, feel-good, feels. Equally important, Nick Offerman is hilarious, and thriving in his role of rundown rockstar dad; so what reason do you have to not see it? The film screening concluded with a Q&A with Director Brett Haley, and Nick Offerman. When asked about the film’s diversity, both sexually and racially, director Brett Haley proudly stated that “representation is extremely important” to him, and he wanted that to be clear through his casting, and script choices for the film.
Austin is known for it’s ‘instagram worthy’ mural walls located all throughout the city.
This wall was painted during the week of SXSW.
Rachel Ray’s Feedback party. Lots of people, lots of food, lots of beer, also St. Patty’s day.
Mt. Joy at the Radio Day Stage.
Contributor Leela at the Dell lounge, post free cookie and wine.
At the SXSW trade show getting free shit & reppin’ Texas.
Contributor Leela at Mohawks, while watching a Black Sabbath cover band.
In line for a party we didn’t get into. Ruined the night. I’m still butt-hurt.
The Chicago band Varsity at Esther’s Follies.
In the bathroom of who knows where, doing who knows what, about to see who knows who…???
A giant room full of cheese, sponsored by Wisconsin. Honestly I have always made fun of Wisconsin in the past, but I never will again. This was the most amazing lounge ever. Literally a room full of cheese. From wall to wall. Just artesian cheeses. Do you know how bad our farts smelled for days…? Worth it.