I'll be updating this page with my tasty adventures in and around Austin, TX, during the 2012 South by Southwest Interactive, Film and Music Conference. My goals for my first SXSW experience: Lots of food trucks, free parties (especially those with free drinks) and spotting famous people. Because why else do you come to South By?
Is there anything free left anymore? And why does hardly anyone celebrate St. Patrick's Day here? These questions and more will be answered later. Stay tuned!
Wow. I got out into the streets to be one with the masses (and wait in line for over an hour for a show) last night — and I wasn't even on Sixth Street. This is how I imagine New Orleans feels during Mardi Gras, but instead of beads, people are covered in wristbands.
I have to say that I miss all the free stuff that the Interactive portion of the fest had. These bands and venues aren't as keen on giving out free grub, open bars and crazy schwag (like the lab tech goggles I got from the Nokia party).
The big Filter lineups have been taking place at Cedar Street (which is really and alcove off of 4th St., between Lavaca and Coloroado) for the past few days, bringing in acts like The Kaiser Chiefs, Band of Skulls and Reptar. Keane, the Irish band who had few hits in the states a few years ago (and are big in the U.K.) played quite an entertaining set there yesterday afternoon, singing a few of their old hits and songs from their forthcoming album, Strangeland, which is set to be released May 7th.
For South By, every place in this darn city turns into a venue — you just have to know where to look. A friend of mine's dentist office (On San Antonio St. near West 2nd St.) invites live acts to play, offers an open bar to guests and collects donations for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM).
I have to say that I had a very disappointing experience last night that marred my SXSW music experience. Picture the scene: I was in line for over an hour for the badge- and wristband-only Tenacious D (yes, Jack Black's two-man band) at The Haven. Since this venue doesn't clear the place after each show, hardly anyone in line got in as many people from previous shows were camping out in there, and we were all told to leave about 15 minutes into the show. By this time, 12:20 a.m., it was too late to get in line for any of the decent shows starting at 1 a.m., thus my night was screwed. Now I know I sound whiny, but this is one show where I should have been able to abuse the privilege of having a badge. But, it being my first SX, I'm also learning how this music stuff works. That is all. End rant.
On the plus side, I made friends with a nice pair of young Canadian gents. We discussed the merits of Vancouver, the healthcare system and their government's more relaxed attitude toward marijuana. They also filled me in on the wild, lawless folk that live up in the Canadian Territories and that the pronunciation of the capital city of Saskatchewan, Regina, actually sounds the same way as a certain part of the female anatomy. They never taught us that in school.
Apparently St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow? See, since SX is always in town during this holiday, it gets overshadowed and hardly anyone celebrates it here — save for Fado's block party, but I'm not paying 10 bucks to walk around outside with annoying drunk people, as I can do that for free on Sixth Street. Here's hoping to finding some decent spot to celebrate and down a Car Bomb.
Stay tuned and keep checking back here daily for more updates and SXSW deals!
Free Sh*t List
The Heart of Texas Rockfest will be going on today at 7th and Neches from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m., showcasing a slew of fantastic Texas acts.
Waterloo Records is continuing the free shows and parties in their parking lot. Two more days to check out some great bands.
Let's get weird! The stars of Comedy Central's hit show Workaholics are throwing a shindig over at Icenhauer's on Rainey Street from 1 p.m. until 2 a.m. today. Bands to include Reptar, Youngblood Hawke, Party Supplies, Action Bronson. I'm betting there will be a long line to get into this one, but it's worth checking out nonetheless.
Today is the last day to check out the free shows and indulge in the free happy hour at the IFC Crossroads House at Vice Bar on 6th Street.
Today is also the last day to get free grub from the Chi'lantro food truck at the GE Garage. 3:30-5:30 p.m. at 4th & Guadalupe.
And last, but not least: It's not free, but a $1.99 haircut is a steal, especially one from the local chain Birds Barbershop — the only catch is that you have to pay with plastic. Catch them today from 1-5 p.m. on 2nd and Congress.
More Favorite #SXSW Tweets:
@tanlines: Starting to feel like this might secretly be a conference for the wristband industry.
@toddbarry: I've seen more fights than bands.
@derekdevries: "#SXSW is spring break for geeks." - @leolaporte
@sparklemofo: Is it too early to crack open the Andre?? [tweeted at 9:15 a.m.]
@DougBenson (comedian): Drunk. #sxsw
Remember how I said there were a lot of people in town for South By? Well, multiply that number by 3. The beginning of the music showcases has brought EVERYONE to Austin. Plus, it's Spring Break here for the kids, so add a bunch of underage wannabe hipsters to the mix and you've got a sh*t ton of people milling about in the greater downtown area. Think lots of neon Wayfarers, jorts (jeans cut to be shorts), vintage duds and odd haircuts galore — though it's not like these "fashions" are new to Austin anyway.
Hey, good news: Apparently Fiona Apple is still alive! She (or a great impersonator) played a rockin' show at Stubbs last night.
Oh, and if you don't live under a rock and are not without tech devices, you'll know that Jay-Z played here the other night, too. Watch that entire show here. I wonder if he brought Beyonce and the musical messiah (a.k.a.: Blue Ivy Carter™) in tow with him to Austin.
If food trucks are your thing, be sure to check out Tiffany Harelik, author of Trailer Food Diaries, as she will be at the Whole Foods Market on 6th and Lamar this Friday and Saturday from 12-5 p.m. doing demos (of food?) and book signings.
And on a final note, I'm finally getting my butt in gear and hitting the town again tonight. Trying to decide between VEVO's Girl Talk show or Tenacious D at Haven. Decisions, decisions. Meanwhile, Joran is trying to catch Springsteen this morning at the convention center, Temper Trap at Stubb's (tentatively), and a whole mess of other shows today.
Keep checking back here daily for more updates and SXSW deals!
Free Sh*t List:
I keep forgetting to mention it in these updates, but Tito's Vodka has rented a trolley and is carting fest-goers (21+) around town for free from 2-9 p.m. through this Saturday. See their route map here.
If you're too lazy to walk or ride a bike, Chevy is also doing the free taxi thing. Their slogan, "Catch a Chevy" is written on the side of their brightly painted vehincles (hard to miss) and folks can simply hail one to catch a ride. The neat thing is that all of the vehicles have OnStar so you can see where they are at any time on this map so you have a betting chance of grabbing one.
Chi'lantro will be giving out their Korean/Mexican fusion food for free today at the GE Garage again from 3:30-5:30 p.m. So go get yourself some kimchi fries, weld some stuff together and play with a 3D printer while you're out there. (4th & Guadalupe)
More Favorite #SXSW Tweets:
@brandonstosuy: Sort of enjoying #sxsw without a laptop. Feel very "90s."
@sarahmcsimmons: I've slept 28 hours over the past 2 days. #SXSW almost killed me...or gave me mono.
@neil_mccormick: #sxsw taxi driver reveals local priorites: "For sure, a lotta pretty girls, for sure. Rock and roll!"
@annielin: You know you've been at #sxsw too long when you wake up from a dream about ... standing in a line
@JacktheRiot: who else is on a Bill Murray hunt? #sxsw
@joanaortiz: Hey #sxsw, do you mind turning it down a notch next year?
To which @tehdago responded: I mean, I've found new, exciting stuff, but it means staying away from the crowds. The Spring Breakification has ruined #SXSW.
I'll be honest: I didn't do very much yesterday fest-wise (hey, some of us have to go to work and the four days prior wore me out), but I did keep up on all of the SX buzz going on in the Twitterverse just so I could keep all of you up on the 411.
Day Five saw the very last of the Interactive panels, meaning many of the tech companies who were giving away the awesome free schwag and free food are gone. The good news is that some food trailers are still doing free happy hours (see below) and many of the bars and venues hosting bands are offering free drinks (and sometime open bars) — thanks to local companies like Tito's Vodka, Sweet Leaf Tea and more.
Pandora's Discovery Den at the world famous Antone's opened Tuesday, offering free shows from noon 'til the wee hours of the morning to wristband holders. Pandora users were given the first invitations about two weeks ago (myself included) to sign up for the wristbands to get into this free, four-day event. Acts like Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Theophilus London, Band of Skulls, Shiny Toy Guns and many, many more, will be performing. Unfortunately, all wristbands are spoken for but if you're lucky enough to possess one, check out the lineup here.
Vevo is doing their own free showcases (no badge required) featuring acts like Neon Trees, Duck Sauce and Girl Talk (I'm so there), but here's the rub: You have to follow Vevo on Twitter or their hashtag #vevosxsw to get the passwords to RSVP for them. Once you've scored the password, go to vevosxsw.com to sign up, then await their notification with the time and location of your chosen show.
Who cares if you went to bed at 3 a.m. last night — get your butt up early for a little "hair of the dog" as 90.5 KUT-FM and The Four Seasons Austin will be rocking out every morning with live bands, today through Saturday. Only $10 to get in which also buys you a free breakfast taco and unlimited coffee (all proceeds benefit the Seton Shivers Cancer Center).
Free Sh*t List:
East Side King (owned by Top Chef winner Paul Qui) will be the featured trailer at the Squarespace lot today, giving out free grub from 11 a.m. 'til they run out (5th & Neches). Also, amazing local roaster, Cuvee Coffee, will be giving out free coffee every morning from 8:30-11 a.m. See the rest of Squarespace's free food truck lineup here.
Chi'lantro (one of my favorite Austin food trucks) is giving out free food at the GE Garage today at 4th and Guadalupe from 3:30-5:30 p.m. (or 'til they run out).
Check out Do512's daily party/show listings which is chock-full of events for badge and non-badge holders. (Many of them require an RSVP — keep an eye out for last-minute, surprise shows!)
My favorite #SXSW tweets thus far:
@hoffysays: You don't come to #SXSW to play covers. Save that shit for your American Idol audition.
@nickkroll (Ruxin from the FX show The League): Looking for an update on who's winning #sxsw: hipsters vs douchebags.
@joranslane (a.k.a.: Our Joran): "Wow. Every shithole has got some shit going on now, huh?" - Cab Driver at #SXSW
@bepkoboy: The city is a war zone.
@folubabtola: Lost my passport at #sxsw. If anyone has found it, please hand it in to the Convention Centre. Last name: Babatola. Pls retweet. [Which hundreds of people then did.]; Later: Thanks for all the Passport RT's. Fingers crossed as I know Texas isn't the best place to be in without proper documentation.... [Update: His passport was turned in to the convention center and he was reunited with it shortly after this series of tweets.]
Yesterday, I got a late-ish start, as expected (see video below), but was able to grab a free red velvet cookie ice cream sandwich from Coolhaus. They, like many of the food trucks here, had been bought out for a certain period of time by a company (in this case, it was Charming Charlie jewelry company) and were giving out free goodies to folks who would send a tweet mentioning said company. This is where all of that free grub is coming from at SX, and it's a great marketing idea. Just like the Bing Lot's free happy hours and Squarespace's daily free food giveaways (see Day One recap), other companies like Foursquare, Google and many more are doing the same. This means you can probably eat for free all day, every day here at the festival. And how does one go about finding these deals? Twitter (and me)! As for free shows, parties and drinks, Twitter is also the place to find those things.
After the free ice cream, I happened upon HGTV's takeover of the old Ghost Room music lounge — their effort to advertise for their newly launched site, HGTVgardens.com. Not only are they sponsoring Flatstock and hosting shows (for badge holders) nightly, they've also painted the entire side of the building white so that fest-goers can paint on it and leave their mark (see photo below). I was told that the wall art will remain there until the place is knocked down (whenever that may be).
Next stop: Fado Irish Pub and Restaurant to see the free preview of the 'Stuff You Should Know' Podcast's TV show on The Science Channel and stand-up acts by comedians Eugene Mirman (Flight of the Conchords, The Colbert Report) and John Hodgman (The "PC Guy" from those Apple commercials and reporter on The Daily Show). The clips of the TV show were pretty funny (subjects being bobble heads and zombies), and the comedians' acts were hi-larious — Hodgman even sang and played the ukulele (see video). My boyfriend, Karl, and I were able to snag John before he left to snap a quick photo. (As you can see from said photo, Karl was quite excited).
For our final show of the evening, we headed to the IFC Crossroads House where we got to see the Comedy Bang! Bang! show hosted by Tim Heidecker and Scott Aukerman (never heard of them before). Free entry to all and two free drink tokens...for Miller Lite (the only time I've ever willingly drank the stuff). The show was so-so, but the highlight was the Jesse Ventura impersonation by James Adomian who talked very loudly and wrestled the hosts to the ground.
As for today, the music showcases finally begin and that means a whole mess of live shows, for badge and non-badge holders alike, from now until Sunday night. I'm told that the orange badges (Interactive) will be making their way home as the green badges (Music) will now overtake the city.
Add to the free sh*t list:
FedEx is giving out free lunch in their cool FedEx lunch boxes (every day, I think) at 2nd St. and Trinity. Plus, they've got free wifi and charging stations.
Today (Tues., March 13): All music showcases open to all badge holders.
I definitely hit all three of my SXSW goals last night (and am paying for it this): Joran and I partied at the Google Village — which is offering free open bars all weekend at the four different bars they've taken over at Rainey Street; spotted this random "celeb" from Syfy's canceled show Caprica; checked out some electronica bands/DJs at Mohawk on Red River; sampled a mouthwatering sandwich from Austin Daily Press of Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race fame; ended up in the middle of a flash mob on 6th St. (a.k.a.: "Dirty Six"); got free munchies from the Today Show food truck (which is giving away free food all week, see my link below); danced the night away at TenOak and spotted Mike Chang from Glee outside (he gave us the cold shoulder...jerk); and finished off the night with some cold beers at Fado Irish Pub and listened to their kickass Irish rock house band (no, not a U2 cover band). Not a bad night, if I do say so myself.
As for day/night 3, it'll be wherever the call of free parties takes us. Follow me on Twitter for live updates on all of the fun!
Not much to see or do (unless you had an Interactive panel or party to attend) as Day 1 has been a rainy mess her in ATX. But rain or shine, Bing's outdoor lounge was in full swing on 4th St. in the Warehouse District. Local food trucks Coreanos, Mmmpanadas and Coolhaus were at the shindig serving up some awesome fare and the cash bar wasn't astronomically overpriced. Hey, it was a free party with no RSVP required, so I can't complain.
As for the parties and events I referred to in the video:
The #BingLot (4th St. and Congress) is open from 6 p.m.-2 a.m. every day, and I hear there's free food from Mmmpanadas from "4-6ish" through Monday (3/12).
Squarespace is featuring a different food truck every day at their SXSW HQ (5th and Neches) through the fest that will be offering free nosh (see the lineup here).
The Today Show's own food truck has made its way down from NYC and is serving up free grub in the morning at late night. Check their schedule here.
The Cooking Channel has taken over the new Easy Tiger beer garden through the entire first weekend of the fest with Nadia G. of Bitchin' Kitchen fame. The bad news: It's RSVP only and there are no more spots available.
Rachael Ray's annual music and food party will be taking place at Stubb's (8th and Red River) on Sat., March 17th. Free food, live bands — like Train, Jimmy Cliff and Blitzen Trapper — and the chance to rub shoulders with Rachael herself.
Stay tuned here and follow me on Twitter: @culinarypirate
SXSWi is Live Streaming their interactive sessions. WATCH THEM HERE!
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