Another SXSW is in the books, as Austin does a collective exhale. All the research, RSVPing, standing in line, waiting, stuffing swag in your bag, eating Doritos, people watching and, yes, actual listening to music is over. Sadly, this Festival will be remembered not only for the music, film and interactive sessions and performances, but also for the tragedy on Red River which occurred during the Music Festival. Time will only tell whether and how the accident may change the planning for future festivals. If you haven’t seen it, there is a video of the favorite band of a Liberty Hill teenager in the accident playing her a private concert in her hospital room.
I’ve only started to emerge from the post-SXSW fog, but it seems fitting to reflect on the past week and what we were able to make it to. LiveMom applied for press credentials, received word we got them and ended up deciding to cover the Festival without a press wristband (with kids off for Spring Break, we decided to focus on events many of you families in town without wristbands would want to go see). Despite not having credentials, we still received word of events that were taking place as a result of our having applied and promoters having our contact information.
We collaborated on 15 articles, including our monster list of over 100 family-friendly SXSW events. We came up with a list of kid-free SXSW ideas and revived our Family Friendly SXSW 2014 and SXSW 2014 No Wristbands Required Pinterest Boards. We were thrilled to collaborate with a bunch of our friends, including the amazing Bill Childs of Spare the Rock Spoil the Child on the Family Music Meltdown, a kid-friendly showcase at the Thinkery. Here are a few highlights of the week:
Most of the LiveMom crew was out of town during the Interactive Festival, but thankfully Heidi of Free Fun in Austin reported back on the Gaming Expo & Create.
On Wednesday, we attended the Family Music Meltdown, which was an awesome time. The event was jam packed, but the long line of folks heading to the Thinkery for Community Night was treated to tunes from some of the greatest kid-friendly bands around. Lots of dancing, lots of smiles and a great time had by all. Unfortunately, my own child was wiped out from our road trip to Houston, so we had to bail after an hour.
After the small one’s bedtime, I headed to the Austin Music Awards. This was my second year to attend this event to honor local artists. Non-wristband holders can pay a cover to attend. My favorite part was hearing Lucinda Williams, a favorite of mine from childhood, perform. Afterwards, I headed over to the Heart of Austin party, where my friends and I listened to Nightmare the Cat and Fuel perform. We got all the way up to the front on one stage in between sets, not realizing the next band up was metal, so that was a surprise! Sometimes lineups keep to similar genres of music and sometimes organizers mix it up.
On Thursday, my son and I had a low key morning. I was thankful to my mom for watching my son for the afternoon so I could head to some music. I wasn’t able to catch up with any friends, since most everyone was with their kids, so I headed to Whole Foods to take in the Playing in Traffic Day Party, which took place on the rooftop. When I arrived, I realized I could have easily brought my son. Parking underground (for free) was a major perk, as was the fact there was no cover and free beer and other munchies. There was also food for sale, being made to order. I really enjoyed seeing Amy Cook, Los Lonely Boys and listening to a few songs from East Cameron Folklore. I slipped out to listen to Charli XCX at the Waterloo Records Day Party across the street. Again, I saw plenty of kids at Waterloo and there was lots of space (in the past I had heard the parking lot was jam packed). Despite seeing kids both places, it was nice to be out during the day and not feel as though I was dragging him around.
On Friday, my son and I were up early to try to catch The 1975 at the KGSR Broadcasts at the W. We arrived at 8am, parked in a surface lot (for $20! I told myself it was worth it for a day’s worth of fun) and got in line. Although we didn’t see The 1975, which was the band my son wanted to see (he loves their song, “Chocolate”), we did get to hear a song from the Sam Roberts Band who were nice enough to perform for us in line. We also got a copy of the Charlie Mars CD. At 10:30am we got in to hear ZZ Ward. I wasn’t too disappointed.
Afterwards, we had an early lunch at Jo’s and headed to the Convention Center for Flatstock. My son chooses a poster each year to grace the wall in his room. This year, he selected a 3D poster by John Howard. After walking around the Convention Center and picking up swag, we took the kids (my son and his friend) to the Big Picture Media Showcase at the Blind Pig. We had interviewed Quiet Company prior to the Festival, so I was eager to listen to the band. We liked the Lonely Biscuits and only were able to listen to a few Quiet Company tunes before the kids decided to call it quits.
That night we tried to get in a Communion Showcase unsuccessfully, but did get into the FLAUNT Magazine launch party, as well as hearing a few songs at the Audiotree Showcase that we walked by on the way to the party. We didn’t know much about the FLAUNT party, except that it would feature “dueling pianos” and a famous Japanese musician. The event was at Qui, which I hadn’t been to, so I was stoked to try some of the appetizers which were passed around, see the space and the show turned out to be spectacular. The musician, Yoshiki, who was obviously a huge deal in Japan, played opposite his own hologram on a lucite piano out back. It was slightly surreal. After the dueling pianos happened, The Wow (which includes actor Balthazar Getty) played inside. What an evening! On the way back to our car (street parking on Congress secured, by some miracle), we felt like salmon swimming upstream on the jam-packed Dirty 6th (at 2:30am!)
On Saturday, I had hoped to attend the Musicians for Microcredit Show at Whole Foods, but my husband was on a mission to try to see The 1975 with my son and I, so we rushed out the door in the drizzle down to Waterloo. We learned on the way that the band was moved indoors, due to weather, so unfortunately after waiting in line for a half hour, the kind folks from Waterloo let us know that we would not likely get in. So, we tried Whole Foods again. This time, the Quantum Collective was on the rooftop with another free, all-ages show. We grabbed lunch and sat on the wet Astroturf and listened to Eric Hutchinson, who I liked (even recognized one of his songs). My son and husband were ready to go after that, so I dropped them off and headed to meet up with a friend at Twangfest at the Broken Spoke. I liked Sturgill Simpson and got to listen to Hayes Carll for the first time. As a native Austinite, this seemed a fitting way to end my SX. Sure, it wasn’t like going to Liberty Lunch, Steamboat or the Black Cat with a $15 wristband as I did in high school, but it was about as close to “old” Austin as I could find at this now mega-festival.
Since I registered my Guest Pass, I received an email that afternoon letting me know I could attend a show at Stubb’s for $5 cover, but I was SXSWipedout. As much as I enjoyed listening to all kinds of music, the best-ever people watching and chatting with folks from across the world, it was time to get back to reality. Did I see all the bands I wanted to? Not even close. But did I see more than I would in a normal week? Definitely.
Now I’m starting to read the recaps and read about people’s favorite bands…and already look forward to what I might see next year. I can totally understand why people here are so over SX and all that comes with it, but I’m still grateful all this crazyness takes place right in our backyard.
If you attended SXSW events, which was your favorite? What did you learn about bringing kids to SX? What are you hoping for your next SXSW?
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Nicole-Basham-Sara-Marzani-Photography-livemom.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 7-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau’s words, her mission is to “suck out all the marrow of life”, or in her son’s words, to cultivate in him a love of “advenchers”.[/author_info] [/author]