Well, I made it! SXSW 2017! I love the beginning of week when I’m so full of energy and can walk from Red River to Congress like it’s no big deal. When I still have the wherewithal to converse intelligently with the people around me and one little tea is all I need to get me through…ah, the beginning of SXSW.
My week started off a bit hit or miss. Let’s start with the big miss: where is the swag?? Gone are the days when someone is handing out free t-shirts or phone chargers at every corner. Those people have been replaced by the lovely folks of OxFam who instead of giving you things are asking for money. Some of my swag misses today were just bad luck as I managed to be the first in several lines to not get things (M&Ms, t-shirts, cliff bars, popcorn, food, etc) but it wasn’t all bad as I did walk away today with two shirts, a phone charger, a water bottle, buttons, and some stickers (thank you Pandora!).
Today was a mix of Interactive and Music and my day reflected that. I somehow (and I’m still not quite sure how this happened) ended up going through a door that said “closed” down an incredibly dark hallway and through another door into a backyard patio where two guys were speaking on a panel about AI. It was interesting to hear them posit a pathway for Alexa to become a machine that passes the Turing Test. I also ended up at a mixer sponsored by the American Chemical Society called something like Your Brain on Music where I got to see how the brain responded to a live 90’s cover band in real time. Pretty cool stuff!
My evening began with some Second Play stage action. I made it to The Hilton to see Ciaran Lavery (incidentally one of the acts I saw on my first day of SXSW last year) and then The Westin for Damien McFly. For those of you who don’t know about the Second Play stages, I’d visit the SXSW website and check out the lineups!
The highlight of my evening was probably getting into the Pandora event to finally see FRENSHIP (a fantastic dance party that must be repeated ASAP) and then realizing that I knew one of the singers. In fact, Amanda and I met Brett Hite about 5 years ago just a couple blocks away…back when Brett was just a guy with a guitar (I still listen to his song “Look Away”).
The second highlight of my evening was catching a bit of Jacob Banks at Empire for the Mazda Party. Wow, that guy can emote! The stage was running late so I also caught a bit of Maggie Koerner who was a very pleasant surprise.
I ended the night, as tradition dictates, at The British Music Embassy but sadly the band I was there to see is missing the first few days of the week due to “scheduling conflicts”. I caught a couple of bands that were good (maybe even great), but the experience was slightly marred by the schedule change. Here’s to hoping for more of the hits (and fewer misses) Tuesday!
Other random things of note:
- On the plane ride, I sat next to the guy who started the whole Movember movement. He is speaking on a panel about marketing for men and reflected a bit on how it has changed.
- There is a giant wave pool set up in Austin where people are surfing. Surfing in the middle of Austin. It’s as strange as it sounds.
- I got to play with a ferret today (yes Austin is weird).