My Fave Moments at South By Southwest 2013
The annual South By Southwest festival is a lot like the Indian parable of three blind men describing an elephant: one man, feeling the tail, describes the elephant as, “Thin, like a rope.” Another, describing the legs, says that the elephant is, “Like a tree trunk!”
These gentleman describing an elephant are all correct. In that same spirit, here are a few tidbits from SXSW 2013 to show what being at the festival is like!
Street Bonding with an injured bike rider:
On Monday I picked my Latvian houseguests Triana Park up from the airport. We had parked East of I-35, and were walking to the Austin Convention Center to get them registered for South By Southwest.
We walked by a group of three people on bikes, who were stopped, with one of the people trying to tie a hoodie around the arm of another. I asked if they were okay.
It turned out that one of the group had been nearly sideswiped by a van and had slid on the gravel, taking a chuck out of his elbow.
The group on bikes asked if I had any water. I had the bottle I had been drinking out of.
They took it, and poured it over the dude’s arm. Then I remembered that I had antibacterial wipes, band-aids and some Emergen-C (for later) from one of the “survival kits” that I’d picked during an earlier part of the festival.
One of his friends put the bandages on the guy with the bleeding wound—and I suggested that they at least stop by a drug store for some ointment.
A few minutes later, my houseguests had exchanged respective band names with the group on the bikes and we had taken a group picture. Chris, Cole and Leni left on their bikes, and our group walked on the Convention Center.
At the Rachael Ray Feedback party at Stubb’s on Saturday, I was taking pictures of the closing act, 80s hitmaster Kenny Loggins. Suddenly Rachael Ray was in the pit, standing right in front of me, dancing and singing along with enthusiasm. We shared that “stranger eye contact at a concert where you both acknowledge that you don’t know each other, but that you both think this is really cool” moment. Rachael Ray totally knows ALL the words to “Footloose.”
Amanda Palmer at the world premiere of The Punk Singer:
At the premiere of the movie The Punk Singer about the life of Riot Grrl Katleeen Hanna, during the question-and-answer session, someone steps up to the mic, and says, “Hello My Name is Amanda” in a deep resonant voice. I turned around. It was Amanda Palmer, asking a question that referenced her time being a girl making things in her bedroom. Or at least I think that’s what she was talking about. One isn’t necessarily expecting Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman at a half-full screening in the Austin Convention Center at a 10 p.m. screening on a Sunday night.
True Confessions at the Depeche Mode Panel:
At the Depeche Mode panel during SXSW, a woman from Boston who was in the industry got up and read a statement from her friends who don’t come to SXSW. She thanked the band for making such sex music, said that “A lot of people got boned to your songs back in the 90s”
At one point during the panel, someone mentioned the “Depeche Mode” bar somewhere in Eastern Europe, but no one could rememeber exactly where. If I hadn’t been in the back row, I might have shouted “Tallinn, Estonia!”
If you want to listen to the Depeche Mode panel, go here.
The Prince Show at SXSW:
When I was getting in line for the Prince show at SXSW, I ran into my pal Caroline V., who was already standing in the block-long line. Since I don’t get to hang out with her very often, I spent some time with her while we were waiting to get into the show. While we were waiting in line, she told me of all the things that she and her friends had done to get tickets to the Prince show. (It also turned out that I sort of crashed her date. Oops.)
At the Prince show during SXSW, people were strongly discouraged from taking pictures. I was even told by the security guys that if they saw me pull out my large camera, they’d throw me out. For the most part, the people in the front of the audience complied with this dictate, while the people in the back started to ignore the “no pictures” rules, even shooting video.
While I was exhausted from a full two weeks of SXSW, but I stuck it out to the end of the Prince show.
A lot of the audience went home before the show was over, but I didn’t!
*This was originally written for an Austinist post, but was lost in the post-SXSW shuffle.