Ng: Day-by-day breakdown of South by Southwest

3/10/14 – DAY 1: Flexibility is key for SXSW

AUSTIN, TEXAS – I arrived in the capital of the Lone Star State tired, hungry and defeated from the constant cries of two children sitting two rows behind me on the airplane. On any other day, I’d have collapsed into a bed and slept until Spring Break ended.

But I was more than 1,700 miles away from University Hill, and ready to see everything South by Southwest, the massive music, interactive and film festival, had to offer. For weeks leading up to the event, I had planned everything out meticulously.

“I’ll arrive at 11 a.m., go pick up my badge, then go see Jimmy Kimmel live at 4 p.m., see Bill Cosby after at 8 p.m. and then go see Chromeo immediately after,” I naively told myself.

I didn’t end up seeing any of those acts, but I did explore downtown Austin by bicycle, stand next to the greatest Shaq Fu sensei of all time – the legendary Shaquille O’ Neal himself – and have a monkey stand on my head for a few seconds.

Margaret Lin | Photo Editor

I ended up not being able to go to a lot of events I wanted to see, and just went with the flow instead.

The biggest thing I learned from SXSW – besides how much taller Shaq is than I am – is that the true beauty of the two week festival is all of the surprises.

Margaret Lin | Photo Editor

Former NBA star Shaquille O’ Neal showed up for an indiegogo panel at the Samsung Blogger Lounge on Monday afternoon.

When I received my press credentials after arriving, they handed me a brochure with all of the week’s events I was able to go to. I took a look at every single one of them, and it was overwhelming. Did I want to go to the panel about buying habits in blizzards, or the panel about 3-D printed food?

While trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I completely missed shows, like the performance by Brooklyn band the Hold Steady.

Trying to do SXSW with a rigid schedule means you’ll end up being on the wrong end of a long line most of the times, or worse – missing the event entirely.

There were too many to choose from, and in the end it just felt right to go with the overflow. Besides, everything at SXSW is better when it comes as a surprise. Like when the Jay Z and Kanye West secret show was announced that afternoon.

I must have checked with three different sources to confirm it, and then ran and asked the event hosts to confirm it myself.

After my first day at the festival, I learned: Don’t expect to do anything you planned, and plan on doing the unexpected.

3/11/14 – DAY 2: SXSW draws similarities to Disneyland

Margaret Lin | Photo Editor

For my second day at South by Southwest, I waited on long lines and saw a show in Austin, Texas.

South by Southwest is an amazing experience. The panels are eye-opening and engaging, the concert lineups are stellar and the food – let’s just say it’s a hell of a lot better than Ernie Davis Dining Hall’s.

But what they don’t tell you about when you’re reading through your friends’ tweets and jealously viewing all their Instagram shots is the lines. There are lines for almost everything at SXSW — from a free taco to a ticket for the Kanye West and Jay Z show. You want to even get a glimpse at the bathroom? Get in line.

During SXSW, Austin, Texas, essentially becomes the Disneyland of festivals, where instead of lines for amusement rides and shows like “The Wiggles,” it’s panels and shows like Coldplay.

My day started with a line, when I woke up at 7 a.m., determined to get a ticket for the Kanye West and Jay Z show. I stood on line for two hours, passive-aggressively glaring at those cutting in line to meet their friends, people-watching and wondering whether or not I’d get a ticket, which after three hours, I did.

I had already learned my lesson after missing out on almost everything I wanted to see my first night: you should show up at least 45 minutes early to an event if you want to get in.

The next “show” was seeing Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein speak at the “Portlandia: Behind the Scenes with the Creators” panel. I got a decent seat in the back after showing up 30 minutes early.

Margaret Lin | Photo Editor

Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, the co-creators of “Portlandia,” hosted a panel at South by Southwest on Tuesday at the Austin Convention Center. The two discussed the process of writing for the show, and Portland, OR. as a city.

At the end of the panel, the floor became open to question-and-answers with the audience, and I decided to line up because I wanted to make an obscure reference to a video Armisen made in 1998 that I could laugh at. Then I noticed everyone ahead of me in line was doing that.

“Hey can I get a selfie?”

“Can you sign my poster?”

“When are you gonna do a sketch about MY town?”

It was weird how self-serving these people were with an opportunity like this, and I wanted to punch myself for thinking like them. When I stepped up to the microphone, I asked Armisen and Brownstein about gentrification in Portland, Ore. Given the opportunity, I’d do it again — though I do wish I had a selfie with the “Portlandia” cast right now.

Margaret Lin | Photo Editor

I decided to ask Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein of “Portlandia” how they felt about gentrification, instead of making a joke I’d laugh at for only the next 30 seconds.

Then there are the rides that you wait in line for, for hours, only to get to the front and then find out it’s being closed for maintenance.

I arrived at the Red 7 around 10:30 p.m., for a Chance the Rapper show at 1 a.m. I got in at about 11 p.m., and then listened through three or four opening acts for two hours until Chance started.

He opened with “Good Ass Intro,” and then performed a total of three songs before we heard the venue management tell the audience the Austin fire marshal was shutting the show down.

Three songs. If you do the math, that’s one hour I waited per song. I stayed with the angry crowd, yelling “F*CK THAT SH*T,” because, quite frankly, f**k that s**t.

One of my favorite memories of Disneyland though, was when Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck would walk through, and everybody wanted a photo with the mascot. Those moments prepared me very well for SXSW.

When I noticed a large crowd of people with cameras all centered on one figure, the first thought that came to mind was, “Mickey Mouse?”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t my favorite rodent. Instead, it was Lady Gaga. Droves of paparazzi and fans with smartphones — “post-new age millennial paparazzi” — were chasing after the singer for a photo.

Chase Gaewski | Managing Editor

Lady Gaga stepping into her car, surrounded by dozens of fans and photographers trying to get a photo of the singer.

With long lines, stars with massive fan followings and some degree of disappointment, SXSW does a great job of bringing me back to my first-grade summer vacation at Disneyland. The festival is essentially Disneyland for millennials, and I have to admit it’s more fun.

After all, Mickey Mouse has never drunkenly stumbled less than three feet away from me the way Gaga did.


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