Austin, Film, Music, Pop Culture

Dear God Please Give Me the Strength to Get Through SXSW

SXSW is starting in eleven days and I’m absolutely shitting my pants terrified in complete denial.

My brain simply does not want to admit the reality that this behemoth is descending upon us like Godzilla with a bad case of diarrhea over Tokyo.

The South by Southwest Interactive/Music/Film festival is so big, they can’t even narrow it down to one category. It has to be three. And not just three rinky dink categories, but three of the largest in the world! SXSW has become a festival like no other. Everyone and their Mom visits Austin and the city functions in a mass state of chaos for ten days until every collectively blacks out.

How big is SXSW you ask? Well, according to the official SXSW website, last year alone there were almost 2,000 musical acts, 300 feature and short films, and 500 interactive events. These are just the official events. What makes SXSW unique is that, unlike many other festivals, there are equally if not more unofficial events surrounding the festival. Patios turn into sound stages, homes turn into screening rooms, and the streets become littered with folks you didn’t think existed outside of the show Portlandia. Last year there were close to 37,000 SXSW participants and again, that is not including all the folks that come into town just for the free stuff. ConsideringAustin is becoming the hot place to visit/live/play, I have no doubt that the number of visitors will be even larger this year and our town will turn into ONE GIANT BALL OF TOMFOOLERY.

SXSW has been a cherished institution in our city since it first began in 1987. The festival initially started as a musical conference, but added the blossoming film and interactive portions in 1994. Now SXSW is one of the city’s leading moneymakers having “directly and indirectly inject approximately $99 million dollars into the Austin economy” in 2009. SXSW has become a sort of unofficial holiday in Austin. Thousands of people take off from work, or can’t get to work, or arrive late to work, or show up drunk to work for ten days straight.

This will be the third SXSW I’ve experienced. Well, the other two I experienced more in the way that someone experiences standing outside the gates of a party they’re not invited to. Or more like voluntarily standing outside the gate shooting venom-licked words at anyone who walks past. Or maybe more like a rabid dog trapped in a cage of their own making, nipping at fingertips and drooling all over themselves. Like many events in Austin, the community’s participation and enthusiasm is so overwhelming that it’s easy to go from “Hey! I’m having so much fun!” to “Dear God! Did a garbage truck of drunk people just drop from the sky!?” Austin gets excited about chickens taking dumps on bingo boards, so we’ll celebrate anything and that ardor is infectious to outsiders.

During past SXSW events, I would get myself all geared up for the four million screenings, parties, and concerts during the festival and then end up standing in the middle of my living like a deer caught in headlights for hours. My brain swimming with where to start and what to do. I would then typically become exhausted from my indecisiveness and fall asleep into a disgusted slumber where I wake at 2AM to the sounds of exuberant party-goers walking past my window and me cursing myself for having temporary social anxiety.

This year I vow to make a change from my behavior in the past. This year I will have a badge that gives me access to the entire festival and I look forward to finally experiencing SXSW as one who lives in Austin should. I will be talking a lot about the festival on the blog- what bands are playing, what movies are playing, street fashion, etc.- so, I hope you’ll share this adventure with me. Lord knows I’m going to need all the support I can get.

Are you participating SXSW this year? What are you most excited about?

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  • Reply This Is Kami March 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Ughhhhhhhhhhh I'm already experiencing "sxsw fatigue" before the thing has even started. This is my 5th and, thankfully, my last for a long time so I'm going to try to muster up energy to do as much as I can but I usually get burned out within 48 hrs. Who can drink that much red bull vodka anyway!?

  • Reply -Your Friendly Neighborhood Dentonista March 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Totally NOT participating in SXSW; look for me at the 35 Confrette.
    YOU are welsome to join us.

  • Reply Edgar March 1, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Hmm, I'm not sure I follow. There is about to be a whole lot of awesome to be had yet you are terrified of it?

    I would say just accept the fact that you will miss a lot of fun events because you are going to even funner events. Then plan properly, with appropriate breaks to catch your breath.

  • Reply Lavina March 1, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Key Difference in this Yr.: You have the mighty all access badge.

    Treat it as a mission, You ARE a music journalist and the people are relying on you for info & knowledge!

    …I dont know what fuck I'm talking about… but i do look foreword to your reviews & would love to go one year 😉 & if all else fails just start mainlining RedBull

  • Reply theTsaritsa March 1, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Hope you have a good time this year! I just wrote about Portlandia on my blog today haha. The same kind of people come to our street fairs in SF.

  • Reply kellynD March 1, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    My brother invited me to come up to see Bright Eyes play! I heard they're playing a free show…and so I have to be there. 😀

  • Reply Vince March 1, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I'm currently trying to make up for all the lost sleep that I will incur

    I do have to admit that half way through i'm am skipping town for SoCal

  • Reply Eeshie March 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Sounds cool. Have fun!

  • Reply Jackie March 2, 2011 at 12:25 am

    oh jeez, i'll say some prayers for the both of us. i'm already tired just from rsvp'ing. not a good sign!

    do you know if there are any informal blogger meet ups or anything?

  • Reply Anonymous March 2, 2011 at 12:54 am

    I haven't been in over 10 years, so I am looking forward to your coverage.

  • Reply That Chelsea Girl™ March 2, 2011 at 6:48 am

    I couldn't volunteer this year, but I have a long list of free parties to attend, so hopefully I'll get some decent shows in.

  • Reply StrangeBird March 2, 2011 at 10:48 am

    It sounds completely amazing!

  • Reply Hipstercrite March 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    @kami- why your last??

    @dentista- that looks like a lot of fun!

    @edgar- hahaha…yeah, i know. it sounds pretty bad. you're right. i need to just give in…

    @lavina- awww thank you! i hope i can keep up!

    @tsaritsa- thanks! i will check out your post now…

    @kellynD- i didn't know that. ma, i haven't even looked to see who is playing what yet!

    @vinca- ugh. i wish i could go to socal too. the beach!

    @eeshie- thanks!

    @jackie- good question. i know that copyblogger is having an event. let me look and i will post anything i find on FB.

    @anonymous- thanks! i hope i can do a decent job!

    @chelsea- i'm sure you'll stay mighty busy!

    @strangebird- that's what i keep trying to tell myself…

  • Reply Jazz One March 3, 2011 at 5:18 am

    I have an official showcase Thursday March 17th at 8:45p.
    I may have better days thru out the year, but to put a week of "I can't believe what happened"-days in a row, it is amazing. Austin is great 51 weeks a year, but SXSW week is like another planet.
    Wear comfortable shoes. Be fresh as you wanna be from the ankles up, but you are walking miles. Wear comfortable shoes

  • Reply Anonymous March 4, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    🙂 don't be a wuss!! you should know by now that you have more fun when you just roll with it. have a plan, but don't be dead set on it because better music/better people/better sh!t always presents itself if you are doing it right! it's crazy-town time!! enjoy it and have fun!!

  • Reply Anonymous March 6, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Since I'm back in school this year after 15 yrs (!), sxsw is during my spring break & I will therefore most likely be working more. However, if I get my usual days off, I will be driving my ass outta town & mini-vaycay-ing with no homework & no class!
    I don't make tips at my job this year, so the hassle of getting there on time (getting there AT ALL) & being right in the damn thick of it (I work at a very popular Austin institution) – is really too daunting to deal with until it begins. There's nothing I can do to stop it, basically.
    I'd like to make it to Flatstock, but won't be surprised if I end up on my couch with a book again this year. My 8th year in Austin & I have yet to buy a badge. Maybe someday, but I don't party anymore, so crowds are my antithesis of a good time (I love how old & crotchety I am sounding on here!)…Anyway…I am MOST excited for it to be over! ;D – Britt

  • Reply Mrs. Miller March 8, 2011 at 5:57 am

    this will be the first year in 5 that i'm not going. last year it was kind of too out of control for me. but my husband's band will be playing 4 shows all within 15 hours…so go check out Thrift Store Cowboys and I can't wait to see what other shows you catch. any bands that you are excited to see?

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