‘Twas the night before South By, and all through the halls, not a creature was sleeping, with all the fan calls.
A SXSW Preview
By Devyn Bernal
This year marks the 30th anniversary of South By South West, an annual conglomerate of interactive media and technology, film, and musical shows. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend you grab a pen and piece of paper and get to Austin, Texas as quickly as you can (through the beloved traffic). *Badge not required, if you’re up for a challenge.
In my third year of preparations for this community of events, I feel less overwhelmed than I did in 2015. That year, I happened to be along for the ride, and being dragged around by my friends to catch a POSSIBLE glimpse of an artist or celebrity wore out quickly. I remember being so exhausted from walking miles around the city, I gave up on the festivities two days in. As I recall, I promised myself I wouldn’t waste my time with SXSW again… clearly my will power is unleveled. It wasn’t until the last day when I went to the Special Kicks party for free and watched Chance the Rapper that I realized the magic SXSW beholds.
In 2016, I decided to give one of the world’s biggest conventions another go, and this time I planned every aspect of the week. I knew who I wanted to see, where they would be, and the length of time they would perform. Unfortunately, I did not count for the people who crashed on my couch and slowed me down, the unbearable Austin heat that rolled through, and how badly this new pair of sandals would ruin me (DO NOT wear new shoes to walk ostensively around the city). My only highlight was the Game of Thrones exhibit on 5th St., although I didn’t get a picture on the Iron Throne so Cersei would’ve been disappointed. Second year, second failure.
So why would I give SXSW a third chance? I’ve grown up, and in my wise, old age, I know what I’m looking for this time. This year, I’m more excited about the interactive segment of the week-long convention. I have an invitation to GSD&M’s annual SXSW party, where I’ll gain knowledge and ideas on creative advertising channels. I have time saved to visit Samsung’s setup at Hotel Van Zandt, where they will preview new apps and programs to enhance your social media communication (for business or pleasure). The alcoholic beverage company I market for is the sponsor for the badge pick-up tent, and the live-action Instagram camera they have set up has already gained hundreds of new followers for our brand. What I’m getting at is that SXSW is the perfect place to communicate your message, and network to find new relationships for your business. I am anxious to visit the SXSW Marketplace, where a couple of my friends were approved as vendors (so proud!) and I even have a DJ friend from L.A. flying in to do a show at the end of the week. Not to mention, ya’ll don’t even KNOW how much I’ve missed Austin’s taco trucks! During this week, you’ll never be hungry because there is food everywhere. It’s heavenly.
I hope this blog provides some insight on the treasures SXSW holds, even if you have to dig and get dirty to find them. There are several Twitter accounts that update shows and appearances, but don’t let them overwhelm you, as it is impossible to be in two place at once, and even more impossible to get from Lamar to East 6th in less than 30 minutes with traffic. It’s important to remember that SXSW is what you make of it, but you’re never going to make it all, so enjoy the highlights most worth it to you. As for me, I plan on diving in, and I hope I return from Spring Break with my best South By stories yet!