[singlepic id=44 w=320 h=240 float=right]

Cam King

Contributing Writer


This year’s 25th anniversary of the South by Southwest festival (SXSW), held in Austin, Texas, showcased over 2,000 bands and was an event for the record books.

With an ever increasing number of people reporting to Texas for the annual gathering of music, film, and other assorted interactive gigs, Austin always has something interesting going on. Voted the 2nd best city in America to live in 2006 by Money Magazine, and #1 College Town in America by the Travel Channel, Austin is looking like the place to be.

Also being the mecca of Texas for arts and music, and boasting America’s biggest college (University of Texas at Austin has over 53,000 undergraduates) South by Southwest always has the hottest events going on each year.

Held every year from March 9-18, the industry’s best and biggest upcoming bands always get showcased from all four corners of the country. Besides being in the ever diversifying industry of music, major artists usually show up, and did show up at the 2011 SXSW.

With over 90 venues to play at, as well as MTV’s large stage, Kanye West, The Strokes, Wu-Tang Clan, Lupe Fiasco, and the new hip hop group Odd Future all made big splashes around town. This year’s 2011 SXSW was estimated at bringing in over 20,000 people to Austin.

In 2008 Austin had a recorded 11,000 out-of-towners join the festivities, which helped boost Austin’s economy with an estimated $100 million.

The list simply goes on forever when you take a look at all the positive things Austin has to offer.

Now, besides being one of the best kept secrets for massive partying and exploration of new technologies, South by South West offers much, much more.

The entire Interactive aspect of SXSW holds many keynote speakers who give tips, advice, and hold what are called, “panels” in order to help boost creativity and innovation in today’s world. Former keynote speakers have included Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and the primary founders of Twitter. Also, speaking in 2006 was Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark.

This year’s keynote speakers were Seth Priebatsch, and the famous party animal himself, Andrew W.K. Besides attracting famous speakers and entrepreneurs, movie stars are also often seen promoting themselves at different film aspects of SXSW.

Every year the scene changes and more and more prominent figures attend. But the amount of people aren’t the only thing changing from year to year.

The sheer number of phone application developers and video game retailers have also doubled  in the past two years alone. With the launch of the highly successful iPhone, many application developers for the iPad, and a number of technology related companies, have taken advantage of the Interactive aspects of SXSW.

Companies will highly market themselves and compete with each other at the annual Adobe Awards.

An event that entertains submissions from all over the world, the Adobe awards showcase the computer industry’s tech awards and highlights the years best new inventions.

This year’s major awards went to small time developers, and even several students who submitted projects from Eastern Europe.

Among some of the winners, producers for Late Night with Conan O’ Brien walked away with several distinguished awards.

As fun and exquisite as most of the events are, you need a “badge” to get in. It’s mostly the trade shows, and award ceremonies that you need for.

The badges really only get you to the front of lines, and also get you free booze during the whole week-and-a-half of events.

The badges typically run upwards of $300-$900 but ensure you into every VIP line at every bar, and into every panel and discussion going on over the ten day span at SXSW. But you’d never make it to every event going on, there’s simply too much to do in Austin over these ten days.

Plus there’s about a thousand free parties during the whole week.

Don’t worry too much, there’s always options for low budget travelers. Despite the hotels being booked well in advance for SXSW, you can do what many young adults elect to do and just “couch surf.”

The new movement that has literally been surfing around the world has eliminated the hazards of trying to book a hotel, and scraping out your wallet is known as couch surfing.

For those who don’t know about couch surfing, it’s simply a cheap way to stay at someone’s place and make new friends.

Overall, SXSW has plenty to offer. Besides my own epic and mischievous escapades in Austin that won’t be published in this news article, I’ll leave you with the idea that everything truly is bigger in Texas.

The food, the parties,the shows and venues, the free alcohol, the colleges, and oddly, the sky.

SXSW is much more than a cultural phenomenon, it’s a congregation of young hipsters, the well traveled, the party people, and the ever expanding eclectic youth.

The fine tastes of Austin will leave you screaming for more, much as it did for me. It truly is an astonishing city, with more than you could simply hope to do in one trip.

You won’t get sick of Austin, and you won’t get sick of SXSW. It only seems to be getting better and better every year.


Cam King can be contacted at cking@keeneequinox.com





Share and Enjoy !