The Brain Bandits weren’t able to make it out to SXSW this year – so we enlisted the help of Steph Wooten to bring you a firsthand recap of the experience, as well as some tips for attending. This is a raw recount on some real life shit, so enjoy.
SXSW is one of the best times of the year for music lovers, film lovers, and LVRS alike. Artists go to network their asses off, meet other artists & overall have a kickass time. I had been sitting on the idea of going to SXSW since October, the expenses for it just weren’t to my liking, finally 3 weeks before SXSW I said fuck it, bought a $500 plane ticket & rallied up two of my friends to come along. Hotels were obviously outlandishly priced, $800 for 4 nights, so we found a RANDOM on Craigslist who was renting their house out to out-of-towners (SKETCHY, YES) but we stayed there for as little as $166 a person. We caught a 6am flight, and all arrived in Austin at 11am, took a cab and we were on our way to our living quarters for the week.
Full article after the jump.
Day 1: The first day/night was overwhelming. I’ve listened to all the SXSW tips beforehand but still managed to be unprepared. We took a 2 dollar bus downtown and as soon as you hit 6th street, there are MOBS of people everywhere. We walked to the Fader Fort for our wristband pickup, got a 9 dollar cheeseburger, then hit Bat Bar where Talib Kweli, Tony Williams, Miguel, Jhene Aiko, and a friend of mine were all performing. Jhene Absolutely MURDERED her performance. Despite microphone problems during Miguel’s set he put on a dope accapella set before being pulled off stage by his team. I linked up with some dope people I’ve met through Twitter over the year (all already drunk) but it was a super chill time. We ended the night early like the SXSW amateurs we were, coming off a 6am flight, and walking miles in between, we were dead tired and ready to tackle the next day.
Day 2: The second day/night was by far my favorite, and was life changing in a way. A close family friend of mine was in town, so we headed to Deco lounge for the “Bout That Life” Showcase presented by LiveMixtapes & MTV Sucker Free. It was 1pm and we were already 5 drinks in of cranberry & vodka. We saw some really good acts from Alabama/ATL as well as Yo Gotti before leaving to charge our phones, (NOTE: I LEARNED THE HARD WAY, IF YOU EVER GO TO SXSW, BRING A CHARGER AND CHARGE WHEREEVER, HOWEVER YOU CAN!) We saw 10iller perform, and he did a dope job. At the second venue, we were 3 new beers in.. so at this point, we’re TURNED UP. Leaving the showcase, we mingled on the streets for a little, ran into Chase N Cashe who remembered me from ATL, King Thelonious, Nipsey Hussle, Miguel, and a lot of other random acts that were cool as hell. After countless drinks & a long afternoon of networking, we hit what would become one of our favorite bars out there for dinner and drinks. After eating the best quesadillas of my LIFE, two Blue Moons, and a fully charged phone we hit the streets for our night.
We linked up with one of our CT homies who is now the assistant to Rico Love and we SOMEHOW finangled our way into the Shady 2.0 showcase. Now, when I first heard 50 was going to perform GRODT in its entirety at SXSW I said I must be there, until I realized it was for badgeholders only. But I learned, FUCK A BADGE!! A lot of the dope shit is unofficial and like we did, you can find your way in. We waited in line, somehow got stamped, almost got stopped but 20 minutes later, I walk in on one of my favorite rappers EVER performing his debut hit “Pump it Up”. Finally met the CT homie & ILLROOTS general, Mike Waxx, and enjoyed some Classic hits from 50 Cent as well as seeing Eminem perform live for the first time. Leaving the Shady 2.0 venue, we shot over to the Belmont for Def Jam Back, again an exclusive event but somehow finangled our ways to getting in FREE. Nas put on one hell of a show, as well as Ace Hood. I ended up taking 3 shots of some unknown tequila and nearly dying that night (lol). What we WEREN’T prepared for was the cab struggle in Austin and just how real it would be at 2 in the morning. We ended up walking from 6th street to 38th at 3:30 in the morning, YES 30 blocks. But what’s a trip without shit like that?
Day 3: Completely BURNED OUT. The sun, the crowds, the hip-hop, the walking really added up. The one thing I’ve learned – attend SXSW with people down for a good time & who you WANT to constantly be around. Ironically, the last day of the festival was also St. Patricks Day so we were mentally preparing for the amount of fuckery that would commence in the streets of Austin on this day. We hit Fader Fort first since we hadn’t been, ran into Taz Arnold (SUPER SUPER chill guy). Nobody good was on that moment, so we shot to the Thrasher where I linked up with some homies from Miami. Shouts to Unckle Luke, Mistah Fab performed, then Kreayshawn and V-Nasty did their thing – that was honestly 30 minutes of struggle for me. Then Theophilus London came on. He might’ve been one of my favorties from the festival. He brought Solange out for their hit “Flying Overseas” and absolutely KILLED IT. We ended up missing alot of good stuff because, like I said, GO WITH PEOPLE WHO YOU WANT TO BE WITH & ARE INTO WHAT YOU ARE. We shot to our favorite bar after the Thrasher venue for a regroup, then shot to the DopeHouse. The Dopehouse is basically a party presented by 2dopeboyz, with a bar, photo booth, and Mekdot on the 1′s & 2′s. The guy I was with ended up working the PhotoBooth, getting 2dopeboyz contact info, etc. Safe to say some AMAZING opportunities were in hand for us upon leaving. I was getting texts left and right to go to the Vibehouse which I wanted to go to from the beginning but by the time we got over there, the line was extremely long. We ended getting AMAZING BBQ pork tacos from a food truck and chatted it up with some of the people there. We stayed an extra day on Sunday, but it turned out we were too exhausted to move anywhere. I had a 1pm fight on Monday but I was getting texts about the TSA lines being out the door. I know a lot of people had chosen the buddy pass route and ended up being stranded in Austin until Tuesday with EVERY single flight being full. DO NOT use the buddy pass route during a major festival! Book early, or like me, eat the $500 flight. Waiting around in an airport for a flight for days is NOT fun.
Overall SXSW is the time of your fucking life. Beautiful women, beautiful people, cheap drinks, free gifts, AMAZING food and MUSIC. If you don’t leave with a shitload of wristbands, feeling exhausted & sick, and new connections – you didn’t do it right.
Some tips for future SXSW-goers:
1.) Carry a backpack filled with phone chargers, water, toothbrush, underwear (yes, underwear – SXSW is home to some of the most beautiful people in the world – I’m sure you’ll meet someone willing to share floorspace/a bed. Ha!)
2.) Wear comfortable shoes. You’re walking, and on your feet for nearly 13 hours. It’s okay, you can still maintain your “swag” with comfortable shoes. The weather fluctuates as well so be prepared for that.
3.) Bring business cards, USB’s with your music, anything. SXSW is one of the best networking opportunities – make people remember meeting you, stand out, have SOMETHING that represents you and what you do.
4.) Don’t be too cool at the shows/events. Everyone’s there to have a good time. Take your shades off during the day, have a drink, and TURN UP!