Here we stand once again upon Austin grounds, the city that hosts arguably the biggest most complex music festival in the world… SXSW. Through out the couple of weeks of the fest, the lone star city is occupied by a tsunami of tourist, artist and press from all around the globe, however do not expect to run into your typical ACL and Coachella like festival goers, these music fans are far more peculiar then that.
When in full motion SXSW is divided by different type of characters, in one end you have the opportunistic spring breakers who thought this was a great alternative from South Padre because they heard Migos and A trak were playing a free show together,but once they realize that is not so easy to get into the free shows they deviate their drunken enthusiasms to 6th street where they will usually drink until they get kicked out. On the opposite end you have the pissed off locals who tend to take a very defensive and personal attitude when trying to separate the city’s reputation from SXSW stereotypes, these people take pride on their city. It truly is a technological nirvana for the young and professional organic breakfast taco truck chasers and competitive disc golf playing kids, so they will defend their city to the core.
If will also encounter the troopers, these are the young kids from out of town that actually understand the formula of SXSW and know what it takes to get into shows. The reason why we call them troopers is because they will wait in line for hours, they know exactly when their favorite acts are playing and what time they must be in line to assure entrance, so respect to those guys. On a little more advance level then the troopers you have the independent press, those badge wearing individuals, who without any hesitation will flag their press badge in your face to ensure you know that you are not equals. Or the social media enthusiast that takes to twitter and snapchat to make a name out of themselves as the unofficial promotors of the fest, these guys usually spend day and night refreshing the news page to make sure they are the first to announce to the twitter world that Miley Cyrus showed up at the Fader Fort, or that Action Ronson threw another guy off the stage; all in hopes of capturing the attention of the curators of these events and exchange VIP passes for a few retweets. These kids are opportunistic and stubborn geniuses that technically run the fest and are the future of social media marketing, so respect for those guys as well. And at last you have the Artist, the most fortunate of them all, as an official act of SXSW you get to proudly go about your biz with no hesitation, just show your orange artist wristband to get into anywhere and everywhere, sometimes even the illmore. After all, SXSW is about the music so If these artist are willing to play 3 shows a day with no soundcheck, they deserve to have fun on their spare time. See SXSW isn’t for everyone, but it sure pays off if you are about it.
In any usual instance, rain would be a festivals worst enemy. But for SXSW it only ensured that every bar was full to capacity for the few hours that the rain poured.
After last year’s unfortunate incident, the city made it a priority to provide more security and more temporary hooded walkways all over the downtown area for the pedestrians. As well as a police officer that had the best attitude while directing the drunk and lost people trying to cross under the 35 bridge, shouting to the ones who walked too slow “Better pick up the steps, that car is willing to hit you. Its gonna hurt” and “This is not the park, this is when you run for your life. Go”
Overall, SXSW is a festival that can never be completely contained, but it is the risk factor that makes it euphoric, is survival of the fittest. To come out on top, you must be ok with walking 5 to 10 miles a day at least, to bump into hundreds of shoulders, to sacrifice a few snaps in the hopes of longer lasting battery life on your phone and sacrifice enough space in your pockets for all the mixtapes you will be handed walking down 6th.It sounds like a burden, but once you make it to the Fader, once you make it to the Illmore or Empire ATX or SXSW Takeover. It is all worth it, you will feel like a celebrity yourself, you get to enjoy free refreshments and noms, you get to see the artist that most inspire you up close and free, and you get to look back at those hundreds of people waiting in line and proudly say “Ni**a we made it”
In case you missed this years events these are our highlights of our SXSW Experience:
Action Bronson’s Food Truck and Curren$y
It seems like the one artist who got the best outcome from this year’s SXSW was Mr. Wonderful himself, he packed the SXSW Takeover show for his official release party and performed his new soulful and bitter slow jam “Baby Blue” with Chance the Rapper at the MTV Woodies. But it was his food truck that captured our hearts in the most southern way. For his release party Action Bronson provided free noms for all the attendees. His famous, “Texas Style Poutine” filled with potatoes, brisket, goat cheese and onions in a savory gravy like sauce, we had to come back for seconds and some of us even for thirds. Hey before you judge, we spend the entire day at the show even before doors opened so we earned those 3 bowls of goodness.
Another pleasant surprise for this day of madness was Currren$y, the New Orlean’s native had a short set before Action Bronson. But to everyone’s surprise most of the crowd was really there to catch Mr. Spitta. With a crowd that shouted word by word all of his songs Spitta was overwhelm himself, mentioning his respect for everyone who took his music to heart.
SXSW TAKEOVER RULES HIPHOP
Not on only did the takeover got to host Bronson’s release party at the beginning of the music week, but continued the hype with two more days of Hip Hop at the legendary ACL Live. Put together by Dallas owned Anton Schlesinger, with a stellar Hip Hop line up we believed SXSW Takeover could have overshadowed the Fader Fort if given the right attention. Acts like Wiz Khalifa, Rae Sremmurd, Joe Badass, Mike Will Made it, Red Man and Alan Kingdom made all HipHop fans sacrifice the walk to the far end of downtown austin and a couple hours of rain to try to make it into the theatre.
The takeover was also one of the only few showcases to feature J Cole and Dreamville records who closed the last night of the fest with a bang. We are not sure if it was the exhaustion from the week long craziness, the lack of sleep or the marijuana haze int he air or all combined that made the J Cole final set a very nerve-racking an emotional one. It was that wax stamp that encloses the letter of the perfect SXSW story, for that we thank you Takeover.
Partying with Portugal The Man
We arrived to the fest on Monday afternoon with one purpose in mind, to catch the Portugal the Man crew and their set over by Rainey st, as we waited in line to hear back from Zach from PTM we ran into Danger Mouse who showed up to find out that his name on the VIP list had already been marked off, maybe by a Danger Mouse doppelenger. Twenty minutes into the city and we were already reminded that at SXSW no one is important enough until proven the contrary, no one bypasses the Firemarshalls you bet they are the Beyonces of this festival. Even A$AP Rocky had to wait a couple minutes to get into this show. PTM proved once again the reason why their follow up is so committed, their live shows are ones that most rock bands could learn from.
So we gather a strong group of people and headed to the Applauze after party, the open bar and the Silent Disco had the people feeling some type of way, it was 4am and the party was in full motion. If you are from Texas, you know that parties don’t usually run that late, but this is SXSW and its the only time of the year we that Texas gets to experience the whole party till the morning light thing.
Atrak OG Maco and Migos at the APWeekend stage at the Main
Once you exit the fader grounds, and explore more into the 6th st crowd, over by “The Main” venue APWeekend hosted a series of shows through out the whole week. We got a chance to capture one night of their madness and it was all we needed.
Lido kicked in the night with a beautiful light backdrop that wasn’t what you would expect from an EDM show but more like a high end award show, it truly was a visual experience. He then started remixing “Ain’t no sunshine” and for the people old enough to recognize the cover, it was a very refreshing sensation to hear a more complex electronic sound then the same EDM formula we had been hearing all week. The slow jams kept coming and only getting better, it was an electronic set for the older souls and we the older crowd were buying it all.
Although most acts that played this showcases passed through noticed, H09909 was not one of them. With Death Grips feeling, hanging from the ceiling and shouting “Fuck your politics, meet the apocalypse” the group had one purpose in mind, to get a rise off of you, to confuse you and make you uncomfortable. Then once you let go of your doubts and understand their concept and their set, you were left wowed by the energy and anger these guys had. You’d want to start a riot on your own, you’d want to mosh till your teeth fall out and you’d want to make sure to keep up with their music, because you sure know every now and then you could use that kind of empowering careless attitude with your coffee in the morning.
Then after hours of not so many interesting acts, Atrak finally hit the stage and brought OG Maco and Migos with him. It was a short set, 30mts at max. But it was well worth the wait, this is when we realized that trap still runs the scene. It was powerful, with multiple well timed frequencies with the right amount of drops and a bass so loud it kept knocking my hat away. Im not kidding. As OG Maco came on the crows picked up the intensity, there was enough attitude going around you couldn’t space the feeling. It made you want to cynically walk into a bank mid day, dancing and smiling, grab all the money from the vault and walk out with ease shouting “Bitch You Guest it, you was right” It was fantastic and well worth the $15 you’d pay a the door. I mean it SouthBy, you can earn bad rep for charging.
Fader Fort overshadowing the Hype Hotel across the street
In reality SXSW is marketing show off game, and no one is better at that then the Fader Fort. The legacy of the magazine is gradually owed to the success of their showcases during SouthBy and this year was no exception. With no RSVP submission and being an invite only event, the exclusivity of the invite for the event was everything fader fans, it was all they would talk about. Having Miley Cyrus and Porter Robinson as secret guest as well as Big Sean, Rae Sremmurd and Kali Uchis as part of their line up, fader never fails to create an experience for the experienced SouthBy attendee. On the other hand, Hype hotel another veteran of SXSW but with a more colorful uplifting vibe, not so black and white and urban as the Fader. Hype Hotel is a showcase that reinvents itself every year, backed by Taco Bell’s Feed the Beat campaign the Hypem has evolved from organizing a series of shows at smaller venues to having their own festival grounds on the other side of 35 freeway, where all the big shots get to hang. And although they had a successful year a line up that had a few big names that Fader did could not match, an indoor and outdoor stages and more activities that the typical SXSW goer can handle, their lines still seemed a little bit lonelier then the ones from across the streets at Fader.
Kali Uchis covering Selena a the Entourage party.
The L.A girl with the Chicana flair and the pink phosphorescent skirts took our heart paying a tribute to the Texana queen Selena in he home state. She sang an acapela rendition of “Si Una Vez” one of the biggest classics of Texana music. It was a consequential performance that seem to mean a lot to her and everyone that understands what this could mean to a true Selena fan.
The Zombies at the Rolling Stone Stage
The Zombies came on stage and no one really knew what to expect, do they still have it or nah? Are they going to play their hits or try to convince us they can still be relevant by introducing new music?
It was 30 seconds into “I Love You” the first song on their set that Rod Argent hit that one note, that nothing really mattered. We no longer had questions, we did not need any answers. Everything felt just right. I think we speak for everyone that was present a the show, that if you had any doubts about the power of the Zombies prior to the show, your guilt felt hard like a bag of stone back into your most pretentious part of your conscience to make you feel like the biggest dirtbag in the world and it was quickly replaced with at least one tear of joy and a lesson of a lifetime. Th Zombies music do not need your approval, your approval need the Zombies music. It was pure, it was music. Without any current mainstream production, without any synthesizers or heavy bass and without any influence from the current state of music standards. It took you back in time.
Atmosphere and Brother Ali at the Mohawk
Arcade Fire DJ Set
8th Grader late night
Words by Manuel Frayre
SXSW Takeover Images by Shane McCormick
Fader Fort / 8th Grader / Friends of Nakid Images by Lance Skundrich
Atmosphere / Brother Ali Images by Gina Carra