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South by Southwest isn’t really like any other festival you will ever go to. It’s just like ‘Nam, there aren’t any rules.
For starters, unlike ACL or Coachella or the Sundance Film Festival, you don’t technically need a ticket, which means the streets are packed with people simply looking to spot celebrities because their lives are sad, or hoping to be discovered themselves. The amount of aspiring rappers wandering 6th Street during the music portion of SXSW was excessive, to say the least. By Sunday, the streets of Austin were littered with discarded mix tapes that served as very real and hilarious metaphors for the broken dreams of the lazy and talentless.
All of those aspiring musicians, and seriously most of the ones simply wandering the streets instead of actually playing small shows were rappers, should go back to 6th on Sunday and observe the wreckage. If they find more than ten of their mix tapes discarded in a gutter, or broken and being used by a hobo as a weapon, it’s time to pursue another dream.
If you do buy a SXSW ticket, it’ll be expensive as shit. It will be unnecessarily expensive. In fact it will be uselessly expensive. I didn’t buy a SXSW pass of any sort. Instead I had a quasi-legitimate press badge, decent connections, and a whole lot of bullshitting on my side. TFM.
This was my first SXSW, and I doubt it could be classified as a “typical” SXSW experience, other than getting shitfaced drunk and wandering downtown Austin. The difference was we actually got into places. On Thursday night, I hit 6th Street with Atomic Productions, who provided the press badge, with the intention of simply tagging along, since they are seasoned SXSW veterans. I was mostly just there to drink anyway.
We kicked the night off at Buckshot, our favorite 6th Street bar (outside of which that YouTube video occurred), and downed some shots. I assumed this was partly in order to get loose and conversational so as to better BS our way into wherever we were going, which apparently was the Kid Cudi show at the Copper Tank Brewing Company on Trinity between 5th and 6th Streets. It was a MySpace event because MySpace is TOTALLY BACK! Kind of. It’s not that bad actually, for what it is now.
We walked over to Copper Tank to scope out the media line situation. It was still pretty packed, so we weighed our options. Over at Viceland, Snoop Dogg (I will NEVER call you Snoop Lion, EVER) was playing a show that would eventually be evacuated by the fire marshall because too many people were smoking weed (yes, really). Our other option was to meet up with another member of the Atomic crew at the MTV Woodie Awards at 1st Street and Red River, where Macklemore was currently playing. We decided to head to Macklemore and come back to Kid Cudi later.
By the time we got to the MTV Woodies Macklemore was well into his set and the line was basically non-existent. We were given wristbands granting us three free beers and headed in. Since I had already heard the song “Thrift Shop” roughly 9,000 times that week, I suggested that we cash in our free drinks first. Truthfully, I’m not much of a concertgoer, I’m more of what you would call a raging alcoholic, so a lot of the things I experienced that weekend were completely wasted on me, but that actually made me appreciate them even more in a twisted way. Somewhere there was a sad hipster desperately wanting, but unable, to see his favorite acts, while I was there blacking out and barely listening.
“LOOK AT ME ASSHOLE! I DON’T EVEN CARE ABOUT THIS! FUCK YOU!”
/pounds complimentary drinks
Macklemore was excellent, the free beer was delicious, as was the free bottle of vodka we apprehended from a liquor truck behind the beer tent. It’s not stealing if you’re media, right? I mean, the media get everything for free at SXSW. Totally justified. Once Macklemore was done we joined him and a bunch of other people backstage in the VIP area. Were we supposed to be there? No. Did we care? Absolutely not. But really, it became more and more apparent to me that at SXSW as long as you act like you’re supposed to be there, you’re supposed to be there. Other than Macklemore and Machine Gun Kelly none of those other assholes was really supposed to be there either. Who the hell were they? Full disclosure, I personally had no idea who I was backstage with, someone had to tell me after the fact. I was more focused on the gin and tonics I was double fisting. Seriously, I was there to drink.
We closed down the backstage bar and then finally made our way back to The Copper Tank Brewing Company to see Kid Cudi, who by this point was just starting his set. We were let into the VIP area there, which was slightly more justified if only because we know the owner of the building, and proceeded to enjoy yet another free A-List rap concert, if for no other reason than we knew how to Photoshop and laminate things and all the clamoring assholes out on the street did not.
By this point I was pretty gone, but I remember that Kid Cudi was surprisingly excellent live. I also remember that the open bar was unsurprisingly excellent, being that it was an open bar and all. In fact the entire venue was open bar. Thank you MySpace, that’s the most useful thing you have ever done or will ever do for me. Apparently after Kid Cudi, and whoever followed him, were finished, we went back to Buckshot to cap off the night. According to my bank statement I bought a lot of shots.
The last thing I remember was standing next to a police horse to take a picture at the insistence of the Atomic guys, these of course being the same people who ask me to act like an asshole every Roundup (thanks guys), when the cop mounted on the horse grabbed my shoulder and spun me around. He looked pissed, but I truly had no idea why. He scowls at me and says, “Son, do you got stupid written across yer forehead?” I wasn’t sure how to answer, I was pretty gone, so maybe I did? I played it safe and said no. He then decided to lecture me on his horse’s physical prowess, and the inherent danger that came with standing near it. “This thing could kick you in the head clear seventeen feet back. It’d kill ya.” I politely thanked the officer for saving me from his demon horse and moved along.
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