South by Southwest — a conference split into music, interactive, and film focuses — is a come-one, come-all environment where you could be chatting with the CEO/founder of MOG one moment, rubbing shoulders with writers from Rolling Stone the next, and then drinking bloody mary’s with Gary Clark Jr.
People from all over the world descend to take part in one hell of a week, where new music technology is discovered, emerging artists are showcased, and industry panels function as a nice daily backdrop…if you’re not too hung over.
Here were some of my favorite (and not so favorite) moments this year:
1. The Roots tuba player, Damon Bryson (aka, Tuba Gooding Jr.) climbing the stairs into the crowd at the MOG Showcase at Mohawk on St. Patrick’s Day.
* Fail: Shortly thereafter, thousands of drunk people dressed in green taking over 6th St. in celebration of the holiday. (see photo #1)
2. At Stubbs BBQ, bluegrass band The Punch Brothers giving their take on Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” using a mandolin, banjo, fiddle, guitar, and stand-up bass for the Red Light x Day Light Party.
3. Rage Against the Machine frontman Tom Morello leading an impromptu “Occupy SXSW” movement after his intimate performance at Swan Dive Bar on Friday night.
* Fail: The cops shutting it down.
4. Throwback! Lionel Richie kicking off the music portion of SXSW with a performance of “Brick House” and bringing out long-time friend Kenny Rogers for a “Lady” duet at ACL Live.
5. Grimes, the uber-hot Canadian duo, “keeping Austin weird” with their electronic synth hipster antics atop a parking garage in downtown Austin for Google Music’s day party. (see photo #2)
6. Guitar virtuoso Gary Clark Jr. cranking out an amazing ten-minute solo under the stars at Willie Nelson’s Ranch while onlookers ate fried chicken waffle tacos with bacon and Swiss cheese. (see photo #3)
7. Nas repping the ’90s hard by performing his very first album, Illmatic, in its entirety behind an appropriately paired backdrop of the NYC cityscape, at the VEVO Showcase. (see photo #4)
* Fail: Seeing 50 Cent on the side and not making an onstage appearance!
8. On the lawn at the Spotify House, New Zealand’s new favorite darling, Kimbra, singing “Settle Down” while simultaneously creating the beat using just her iPad. (see photo #5)
* Fail: Kimbra’s awkward and abrupt exit following her short three-song solo set after hundreds of fans waited hours to see her.
9. Off the beaten SXSW path, acoustic crooner Jenny O, accompanied by a full band, providing listeners a space of solace from the mayhem down the street at Jo’s Coffee Shop on South Congress. (see photo #6)
10. At ACL Live, Polica living up to the hype by introducing a dark, yet soft sound featuring female vocals and two drummers who blew away the crowd with solos in perfect unison. (see photo #7)
* Fail: Polica (pronounced with a soft “c”) singer Channy Leaneagh saying she only named the band that so she can move to France after our government totally fails. #Buzzkill