This year’s SXSW was over-shadowed by the deaths of two participants – one local, one from the Netherlands, due to a stolen car running from a police stop down a very crowded (and very closed) street. A large number of people remain in the hospital. I was already home, but they remain my thoughts and prayers – no one should come to a town for a good time, and suffer due to the selfish and reckless actions of another. Update (March 17, 2014 11:00am) – a third person has passed away in hospital from this crash.
My first night (Tuesday) I went to see a friends sister (Alyssa Kelly) play at a coffee shop on South Congress Avenue, and then walked around quite a bit. Tuesday is probably the least busy night of SXSW – it’s the day where the Interactive portion is officially over, but the Music portion has yet to start. People are coming and going, sites are transforming from their Interactive (think dot-com) setups to Music (recording labels) setup. On Wednesday night, Music was getting started, and you could notice a definite vibe around downtown.
My final night at SXSW this year was on Friday for a photo walk with some photographer friends, mostly from here in Austin. Friday and Saturday are the biggest nights – college kids come back from spring break, people take a long weekend, so on – it gets pretty packed.
While a big part of “official” SXSW are big parties where you have to have a badge ($$$$s), a wristband ($$$s) or pay an inflated cover ($$s), my favorite parts are free – the acoustic musicians from all over on the streets, the rappers who show up and perform on the hood of their van until the code enforcement officers shut them down, the magical noises from all over. While some of us local types complain about it, it really is a magical time in our magical city.
The fun and wonder of SXSW can be seen in Erica’s smile here – it’s a very joyful time for many.