Since 2012, I have wanted to travel to Austin and experience South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival takes place every March. As a lover of things that hip, hop, beep, bop, drip, drop, drippety and drop, it was only a matter of time before I make it there. There’s only one me and I only was in town from Thursday to Sunday (19-22), although the music portion of the festival began on the 17th. I couldn’t be everywhere, although I wish I woucld’ve been because there was something going on at every hour of the day. I had to make a lot of tough decisions to make. Tink or Dej Loaf? Big Sean or Big K.R.I.T.? J-Cole or Bun B? Artists from the new school, old school and underground were well represented at this year’s SXSW.
You ever went to a restaurant that had all your favorites and some new stuff you’ve never tried that sounds good based on your Twitter timeline BUT you could only choose ONE item on the menu? Yeah…that’s SXSW. I drove from New Orleans to Austin so that I could have my own wheels to navigate through the city.
Lesson #1: I found residential parking and trekked about a mile to the epicenter of entertainment on 6th St. (where a majority of the venues were). You’re not going to get any closer and to call Uber or hail a pedicab if you have your own wheels is counter-productive. Besides, log some miles on your Fitbit so you can tell your trainer you got some exercise in while festivaling.
Once I checked in at the Convention Center and got my badge, I rushed toward 6th St. to get in somewhere, anywhere. I had other photographer friends already inside of Fader Fort so I got in line to meet up with them. It was raining, already getting late in the afternoon and the line stretched to San Antonio. Hype Hotel was right across the street where Tuesday night’s favorite rapper ILoveMakonnen was setting up to take the stage. And down the street Spotify House had Wale and SZA. So if I couldn’t get in to Fader, I had a close second and third option. I was patient and after an hour wait on the press line, I got in. That was nothing compared to the general admission line for those without badges or wristbands. Some attendees said there were in line for about four hours hoping to get it.
Lesson#2: For big name events, get on line early and stay there. I figured there were so many other spots what’s the big deal bout Fader? Unbeknownst to my amateur behind, it’s a pretty big deal. According to an Adweek article, Fader Fort was the most discussed event on social media during the music festival, bringing out artists like Migos, Big Sean, Dej Loaf, Timbaland, Miley Cyrus (mad I missed that performance), T-Pain and more.
The day I went on Friday (March 20) I saw Big Sean, Migos and suprise guest, T-Pain. Big Sean, who’s still on a promo tour high for his latest album Dark Sky Paradise, brought out E-40 for his “IDFWU” remix and took his shirt off for a more a dramatic effect. Migos brought out all of Gwinett County for a quick, real quick set promoting their debut album in June with catchy tunes, “Hannah Montana” and “Fight Night.” Honestly, I didn’t know what they looked like until I saw them on stage. There are some hip hop acts I don’t follow.
But about this 850, “Tallahassee hero,” T-Pain performance.
He sang 42 songs. Y’all know I lived 3.5 years in his hometown from 2006-09 and those were the years he really rose to stardom. Some may say he fell off in recent years but T-Pain came on that stage and showed out. He was a “Flirt,” and wanted to “Buy You A Drank” and then buy you “One More Drink” then “Take Your Shirt Off” so he can “Kiss Kiss” all over you and “Blame It” on the alcohol for his “Off” behavior. And then some. As a former Tally resident, I was proud of the auto-tune legend that didn’t need the very musical trend he created to perform his nearly hour-long set. In fact, he made reference to those that doubted his raw musical talent in a freestyle-turned-ballad, proving he needs no machine to carry a note. He may not have been who many fans were expecting to see as rumors of Kendrick Lamar as the special guest had whispered through the crowd all afternoon. Nonetheless it was a great performance for an artist who wants a second wind on his stardom.
Lesson #3: Don’t be prepared to show hop. Even with my music badge I couldn’t hop from venue to venue because once they’re at capacity you can’t get in. So that friend who wants you to meet them at the door and tell security that they “work” for you, isn’t going to happen. That’s why they have a whole week of day and night events so you can plan your days accordingly.
Lesson #4: Fader Fort IS the definition of SXSW. Note taken.