SXSW 2017

IMG_5211It has officially been one week since I returned from Austin, Texas where South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival ran which through March 14 – 18. So, what the heck did I learn?

When you hear so much about a conference such as SXSW before your first trip, you start to wonder: How much of all the hype is true? Is this going to be worth my time? Is this worth my time? Why in the world do thousands of people around the world keep showing up after 30 years? What should I expect to get out of it? What questions am I not asking?

In 2016, according to SXSW, over 72,000 individuals registered for the 10 day event in Austin. If you include all the people who came for the unaffiliated sideshows and free events, they estimate that about 150,000 attended. That’s a really big number! I’m not even sure what the final count was for 2017 but I’m willing to bet it was close to that number and I was only there for the music parts.

Still, I wondered why do so many people show up? And I was determined to find out.

As KSSU Manager, I had the opportunity to attend SXSW to represent KSSU’s diversity and inclusiveness, I took this opportunity to navigate through Austin for a total of 4 days to understand these questions and learn as much as possible.

Here are some key observations that I want to remember and share from this experience.

Something to be said about meeting random people

Unlike other conferences that attract a selective audience from a particular industry; SXSW attracts everyone from technology, retail, film, music to art and they all come with different motivations.

This is a rare opportunity to see your entire world of networks clashing and connecting. It’s one thing to see mutual friends on Facebook or to introduce someone over email. It’s another to see how they all relate, interact and connect in person. I made a good amount of friends and the all came in ways I never thought was possible based off a general interest.

Austin has this laid-back atmosphere, it was hard for me not think of this as a vacation. But with so many opportunities to connect, it was hard to remember this wasn’t also work. I actually learned, worked and played with amazing people from all around the country and even from around the world. I can see why so many continue to go back and see this as a way to reunite and reconnect with friends and colleagues.

My favorite realization was when I realized that SXSW was the best way to meet bands, artists and professionals alike and find out who they were behind the scenes.

Yes, we tend to know more about certain individuals but when you meet in person; it’s just a great to add a face to the name during an age where we communicate so much digitally. I had great conversations backstage with Benjamin Booker, Judd Apatow during the last minutes of the Avett Brothers closing set at the Moody Theater, has word with Noname on my first day at the festival and finally was given some life lessons by Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman. Overall, I think I accomplished quite a bit while standing on my feet for odd hours on end.

Best venue lineup?

I won’t say I didn’t enjoy following the Avett Brothers from the beautiful Paramount Theater (a documentary about them was being screened) to the Moody Theater where they hand down played the best show all week. After all, the Moody Theatre is famous for taking over recording duties from PBS Austin City Limits, original Studio 6A on UT’s campus. Moody Theater does not have one bad seat in the house, it is built up to create a 2,750-capacity theatre. The state-of-the-art venue attracts some 100 touring shows a year but for me the award had to go to Banger’s.

This year’s lineup represented a wide range of genres with rock, pop, hip-hop, electro-pop and indie, with artists from a dozen countries. Performances began approximately 2 p.m. each day and continued throughout the evening, allowing attendees to enjoy more than two dozen acts in an intimate venue, along with Banger’s famous homemade sausages, beverages and a relaxed outdoor setting. StudHub Live: Sound Stage was hosted at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden. Banger’s had a very dynamic lineup of emerging and established talent includes Sleigh Bells, Hamilton Leithauser, Wild Belle, BANKS, Electric Guest, D.R.A.M., Talib Kweli and Benjamin Booker. I was able to catch the last three acts and they were phenomenal. Everyone was jammed packed Talib Kweli put on a hell of a show, Benjamin Booker continued his music take of social injustice in America and D.R.A.M. closed my Friday night and SXSW experience with a fun and almost innocent show that is his form of hip hop.

I want to thank ASI but especially KSSU for allowing me to do this. Here is to the rest of the year and hopefully more jam packed fun from your one and only Sac State Student Run Radio,


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