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I waited in line for coffee behind a man in platform shoes and a velvet jacket, chatting with a girl in a multi colored jacket made of feathers. Early in the week a man was offering camel rides. Then there was the psychedelic party bus complete with a live band called Interstellar Transmissions jamming in the back.
This was my first time at SXSW, so maybe I'm more distracted by the craziness than the multi year veterans. But I'll take my fresh view of the festival because it's a hell of a sight. The evidence of continued weirdness is everywhere you have to be pretty jaded to just brush it off.
Probably the biggest complaint about SXSW is that it's gotten too corporate. When the festival first started in 1987, it was small and independent, but as it's grown to the behemoth it is today the corporate sponsorships and vendors have taken over.
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You hear and see the slogan everywhere: "Keep Austin weird."
Sharing the crowded streets and bars of Austin all week are death metal rockers covered in piercings, hoola hooping Prada Grey Wallet dubstep fans, hippies having folk jams, rappers with enormous entourages, indie kids with ironic tattoos and country fans in 10 gallon hats. This is a big part of what sets SXSW apart from other festivals. With thousands of bands and even more fans, you get an astounding variety of people.
Besides, the people are having no problem keeping things weird. Who's looking at the corporate logos behind the stage while a dubstep DJ is working the crowd into a frenzy? No one. Those MySpace fliers are blocked from view by the crowd forming around the freestyle rap session in the middle of 6th Street. And when you're stuffing a pulled pork sandwich from a street vendor in your face, you can't even see the girl trying to give you a Starbucks card.
and fans. Nearly everyone is at least a little drunk, if not completely hammered, and tons of them are letting their freak flags fly. And keep in mind, and "freak" are compliments.
Keeping Austin weird
The Hype Machine took over a large warehouse style venue all week, dubbing it Hype Hotel and hosting on some of the best showcases, all with the help of Taco Bell.
back on 6th Street now and downtown feels deserted, but the bars are still open and local bands are playing inside. The city SXSW calls home is back to normal, but hopefully it's not too normal.
Well, I can't tell you how oddball the city is on an average day, but it's positively oozing weirdness during the music days at South By Southwest. From Tuesday to Saturday the streets are crawling with musicians, press, industry folks Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 Grey
The press room in the Austin Convention Center was stocked with free stuff from GoToMeeting. Energy drink companies giveaway drinks on street corners.
The best way to describe the weirdness at SXSW is in the little moments. As I sit outside on 5th Street writing, a man next to me in a fuzzy, spiky, rainbow knit hat is casually playing acoustic guitar. One night I came across a guy working a tiny skeleton marionette, making it sing and dance on a little stage. I joined a mob following A$AP Rocky down 6th Street after watching a dancing man play the tuba. I was informed by total stranger that we were married. Guess Wallet Purse Black
It's unavoidable, but there's no reason you can't tune it out. Plus, free Dorito shelled tacos and energy drinks never hurt anyone (unless you count some potentially unhappy bowels), and I totally took advantage of the free GoToMeeting notebooks. Sure, it's sad that SXSW is losing the indie cred, but it's hard to argue that the evolution doesn't have benefits.
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