3/21/2013 7:00 AM
[editor's note: this post is a SXSW dispatch from our guest reporters on the street, Kristina Sutton and Nicole Newton. They'll be bringing the fan perspective. Stay tuned to hear about more of their adventures!]
As first-timers to both SXSW and Austin, we really had no idea what to expect. When people heard we were headed to Austin for the weekend, most people's reactions were: "Oh, Austin?! Its such a strange and weird city. You'll really like it." (Umm....thanks?)
We both originate from the midwest, where music festivals, such as Summerfest, are usually contained in an open area or field with stages erected in staggered lines. Crowds are merciless and intense, and usually held in the dead of summer. The hot midwestern summer sun intensifies the crowd crush, which makes the days hot, long, and sweaty. Thankfully, SXSW was not like this. Venues were scattered throughout the city, which naturally controlled most crowds. Even the areas where people would congregate, most notably 6th street, were not terrible to navigate. Since SXSW utilized the entire city, each venue had its own flair and ambiance; musical settings were constructed out of anything from the typical bar to the unique church to quirky BBQs. Artists almost always started on time—a true rarity. (Before SXSW, we had never been to a concert that had started on time. Ever.)
Truly unique about SXSW was its breadth of music. I cannot imagine anyone going to SXSW and not finding music or artists that they would enjoy. Singers and bands seemed truly delighted to be a part of SXSW, and fans and visitors were enthralled to be there. This created an atmosphere of constant excitement and enthusiasm.
Austin itself was really an incredible city. Southern hospitality was found in abundance, and we constantly found ourselves meeting new people and making friends. The city has a truly unique vibe, which somehow incorporates a mix of dated glamour with southwestern panache. Residents of Austin, and visitors to SXSW, tended to be quirky and unique, which created endless people-watching opportunities.
Overall, SXSW was an incredible experience. We can't wait to go back again and see what else SXSW has to offer, because we're sure that we won't be disappointed.