100 Miles & Walkin’: The SXSW Diary (Day One)
Life lessons are made walking the streets of Downtown Austin. The last story I may even have of the March music festival is that a promotion company behind the YouTube takeover of music videos essentially locked out many of those patrons freaked (in a good way) that Kanye West and his army of G.O.O.D. musicians along with Diddy, Beyonce & Jay-Z had invaded Austin. But SXSW has its own aesthetics that leave much to the imagination.
Even by writing a guide about the Do’s & Don’ts of SXSW, I still failed in the end by not properly planning on Day 1. The drive from Houston to Austin was definitely worth the trip, a lot faster than driving solo dolo might I add. Did it prepare me for the various moments of my week where there were folks in Austin with bongs on the corner, bikes being passed around like a groupie from Leimert Park and the best impromptu house party/concert that few people were aware of?
No, but I damn sure enjoyed every minute of it.
THURSDAY – DAY ONE
Here’s the early hindrance that may plague this story entirely, having one of your good friends seventeen year old brother with an ID that mistakenly makes him twenty makes coverage of some things harder to pull off than normal. My FlipCam was still in the apartment I was sharing for the weekend so needless to say, everything was by word of mouth in terms of what was seen.
However, I will say this much: watching Big K.R.I.T. knock out a set for the Nah Right/Smoking Section show is something to behold. The man is probably one of the few artists beloved by the blogs that easily translates into general appreciation. I’ve gushed over K.R.I.T. Wuz Here more times than I can actually count but to see a giant mosh pit form after hearing “Country Shit” is overwhelming. Even more overwhelming is watching Stalley get extra time after Immortal Technique couldn’t perform due to scheduling conflicts.
Having a robust 12 shows throughout the week, it was clear Stalley was in it for the long haul and the man from Massolin took care of his end of the bargain, delivering on Lincoln Way Nights in near full. Alas the benefit of SXSW allows you to dip out and come back for certain things so being sandwiched between people to watch Kendrick Lamar knock out “Michael Jordan” and feel the floor on near shake mode. Yes, the small Peckerheads was close to falling from the power of the West Coast. Note: The Smoking Section has a far more visual account of this occurring than I do. Do’h.
Traveling through the obscene crowds I wound up meeting the two men who are partially responsible for me having a bigger voice on the blog scene in Nathan S. & DJ Z (otherwise known as the collective minds who help spearhead DJBooth.net). Joining the gentlemen on a tour bus along with Coalmine Records led us to meeting West Coast producer/emcee Shane Eli and being treated to free BBQ. Not to refer to myself in the third person like a dick but Brando does not turn down free BBQ. Ever.
With subtle movements, we made our way to Live Lounge to check out a showcase which the name escapes me. Sadly, we parked the seventeen year old outside since it was 21 and up so needless to say it was all systems go inside. Venturing upstairs , the feeling of being amazed by your favorite artist actually role reverses once they find out that there’s something beyond a Twitter handle and a great piece you write about them.
Fast forward a few hours and I’m back at the apartment, scratching my head at how I could forget the application that would have granted me access to the official SXSW showcases hosted by Atlantic & BET that night. There was one official weekly showcase I did have my name attached to and if I were to truly get the SXSW experience, I’d have to attend at least one FADER Fort show.
ARTIST NOTES: Dee-1 (he of the I Hope They Hear Me!!, series) is New Orleans through and through. You can tell this the moment you set eyes upon him and hear that Cajun drawl begin to spark up a conversation. Went up to him, extended a hand and then I let him know what I did and the mutual respect grew. Same for Aleon Craft, Sean Faylon (who had the ingenious idea of putting his face on a sticker and immediately won the “Best Use of Your Face at SXSW” award) and others.
Simply put, artists and bloggers achieve the same sort of celebrity status in Austin and for the life of me, I’ll never understand it. Walking the streets of Austin with Skewby and Shane reminded me that yes, rappers whether indie or major will be stopped in the street by other rappers and fans, which is also to say that when the analogy that there are more rappers than fans is tossed out, it’s also because the rappers are the fans.
For example, standing on Congress, our contingency ran into Rittz (who conducted an interview with Goodfella Media at a clothing store on 6th and immediately held my attention), Yelawolf, Pill, Killa Kyleon and Killer Mike all within four feet of one another and for the most part they were enjoying themselves. The young gun in our crew had managed to find his way into Hustlepalooza’s showcase and caught Casey Veggies tearing shit down for the first time, not to mention randomly meeting Curren$y and a few others while waiting.
Also, Tone (Skewby’s manager) is arguably one of the funniest men I’ve ever met in life and ran the type of game on women that words like legendary don’t even define. How in the world did he manage to convince a woman that Eli was Carlos Boozer, Mal was the producer of all of Skewby (in this case played by me)’s tracks and that he was Pimp C? She believed it, I’ll never know.
But she did admit to watching Basketball Wives. Hmm...
Written by Brando on 03/24/11
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