(In case you are wondering, this is some fool licking the pavement at SXSW. Keep Austin Weird indeed.)
If you follow me on Twitter, then the last couple of months you may have caught some of my random tweets counting down the time until SXSW begins. (I’m assuming that most music fans or digital marketing folks know about the conference, but if you are unfamiliar with SXSW then you can get the lowdown here.) I’m big into music and have been making my way down to Austin every March the last few years for the annual music conference. Leslie and I have a great time catching up with friends while completely over indulging in live music. Plus, we just love Austin.
This year will be different for me though. I’m raising the stakes or going overboard – you decide. Beginning this Friday I’ll begin my SXSW marathon – I’ll be in Austin for nine days while attending SXSW Interactive and Music. I’ll be at the Interactive portion for my job and then I will stick around for the Music portion of the conference while taking some vacation days. I fully expect to be overwhelmed at times and likely will be burned out by the time it is all said and done. And I think it will be utterly fantastic.
(Mr. Jonny Corndawg from Middle Brother performing at SXSW 2011.)
Looking ahead to my trip, I thought I’d write about why I’m excited for this trip in particular.
- The learning: First off, I’m excited for the Interactive portion of SXSW because I haven’t attended before and it has a reputation for being one of the preeminent marketing, technology and entertainment conferences. Additionally as I alluded to in a previous blog post, I served on this year’s SXSW Advisory Board. This meant that I helped evaluate proposals that were submitted for the conference. I think it will be interesting to see how the presentations come to life after having seen them as part of the selection and vetting process.
- Austin itself: If there was ever a town in Texas that you had to pick to live in, Austin would it be without a doubt. It has such a strange mixture of elements. There’s a sense of Southern hospitality combined with a punk aesthetic. There’s a whole spirit to keeping the town out on the fringe. Also, there is just an inherent creative vibe that abounds all around town.
- The food: Kansas City has the best barbecue and I’ll admit I’m totally biased about it. It’s my hometown and I rarely eat barbecue anywhere else. Austin is one of the exceptions. It has some terrific joints inside city limits and supposedly some better ones reside outside of Austin in towns like Lockhart. Aside from the barbecue there is a vibrant and active food truck subculture going on. We have a pretty strong one here in Minneapolis but it doesn’t seem quite as lively as the one down in Austin. Lastly, you can’t forget about the terrific Tex Mex places such as Guero’s down on South Congress.
- The music: There is just a ridiculous amount of live music performances to see during SXSW. You have the official nighttime concert showcases at tried and true venues like Stubb’s or Antone’s. Then you have the seemingly endless number of day shows in odd locations like Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop. And you have the unexpected gems that you serendipitously find while walking about town just because that’s just how it is in Austin.
(The lovely Ritzy from The Joy Formidable rocking out at SXSW 2011.)
If you are going to SXSW this year and want to meet up, then take a look at my working schedule and see if our plans overlap. Better yet, stop by and check out the Social Business Meet Up that I am hosting on Sunday, March 11. Or if you like, you can track my marathon and catch up on my observations of the ridiculous, the noteworthy and the absurd by following my tweets from Austin.
(Photos courtesy of Shuttermack Photography + Design.)