Thank you, SXSW 2012!
Updated: Sep 6, 2018
I feel like everybody in this city always breathes a sigh of relief when SXSW is over. No more scheduling conflicts, parking quagmires, endless traffic, sleepless nights, hangovers and “Don’t Move Here” T-shirts. And no more of those tourists that spawn those T-shirts. Even though I’m glad for those things to be done and gone for another 360 or so days (and am currently stuck with a wicked cold to boot), I’m also sad because SXSW really does rock. It’s a little vacation in our own city. And even though I didn’t pony up the money for a badge to any of the three official SXSW festivals (Interactive, Film and Music), I still got to see some cool stuff, mostly for free. Here were my favorite moments:
Safety Not Guaranteed: Have you ever had one of those experiences where you see a movie and then when it’s over, you kind of start sobbing and aren’t really sure why? Please tell me I’m not the only one. It’s really only happened to me a couple times before (during WALL-E and V for Vendetta, and I’m not sure what that says about me). But it happened again at the end of Safety Not Guaranteed, a hybrid comedy-drama-romance-fantasy flick that I fell head over heels for, and it was a particular shame given that they were filming my screening to show audience response for an upcoming trailer. So if you see a sobbing dork on the left side of the screen, that would be me. This movie, which stars Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson and Mark Duplass (who, along with his brother Jay, had co-directed and co-written the very funny SXSW entry The Do-Deca Pentathlon), sprung to life from a real classified ad that read: “WANTED: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed.” I think what was so overwhelmingly wonderful about the movie was how it blended whimsy and sex jokes with dark emotions and a strong, irrepressible streak of hope. Check out the trailer and my interview with Mark Duplass.
Free Shows in Cool Places: I’ve never had a SXSW wristband or badge, but I love getting to see some free music. I think Auditorium Shores in March is a lovely place to spend an evening, but I haven’t found the best live music to be there. Instead I’ve found music I’ve loved at much smaller places. Like the Whole Foods rooftop. Can we just have ACL there next year? It’s so pretty! And you can buy beer and wine downstairs and bring it upstairs, which is amazing. Also amazing was the live show put on by one of my favorite bands of the past couple years, the Las Vegas-based Imagine Dragons. After accidentally stumbling (literally) across one of their live shows in Vegas back in January 2010, I’ve been avidly following their career and am thrilled they’ve been signed to Interscope. I hope to hear more big things from them in the future. Here they are doing an acoustic version of “It’s Time.” South Congress is a good place to be during SXSW—plenty of food options, opportunities to create your own shopping montages and the free shows over at South by San Jose. And if the crowd at the stage behind Jo’s gets to be too much, you can pop next door to the Hotel San Jose, where things are always chill. Over at SXSJ, I caught one act I can’t wait to hear more of, LP, and her huge gorgeous voice. Check out “Into the Wild,” and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be sad you never learned to whistle.
Randomness: When you’re winging it, you start to appreciate the utter randomness of SXSW. Whether it’s celeb-spotting, celeb-spotting by proxy (“My friend just saw Joseph Gordon-Levitt on East Sixth!”), a new favorite food trailer (sweet potato fries with truffle mayo at The Peached Tortilla) or a last-minute invite to a party, SXSW never quite ends up where you think it will. For me, it ended up front row at Timbaland at the Perez Hilton party. Sup.
So thanks, SXSW! I’ll try to remember to hydrate next year if you promise to keep being awesome.