SXSW 2017

SXSW, what started as a festival geared towards the musically enlightened, has now become a symbol for innovation. With my interactive pass at hand, I was given an up close view of what SXSW could offer.

Though the festival lasted nine event-jammed days, I sadly only had the weekend to take in all the Austin I could handle, though I promise you, the time was well spent. The phrase “Keep Austin Weird,” rings loudly in the back of my mind when thinking of all the oddities I saw. With a would-be fire juggling unicyclist, a hoard of “nude” runners, and a particularly angry mechanical bull, SXSW seemed the perfect place to brew up some good times.

With me being a first timer, I really didn’t know what to expect on my first day. I decided to ditch my car in lieu of taking the bus and I headed straight towards the Austin Convention Center. Getting closer to my destination, it was made exceedingly clear that I would have to get off and walk a ways due to all of the closed streets. Burning more than a few calories, I finally found my prize. Walking straight into the convention center, I was greeted with short lines and cheery people. Keeping my expectations high, I delved straight into the SXSW groove.

After leaving the convention center I hatched out a plan. One of the first things that caught my eyes was The Mummy VR Experience. I was interested at how they would achieve a zero gravity feel while not making people sick. Using the VR accompanied with the rotating chairs completed the already stellar video.

By this time I had worked up an appetite, so I did what any sane person would do and decided to look for a small bite to eat. With mutterings of a food truck outlet, I marked my map and set off. My not so amazing navigation skills seemed to get me pleasantly turned around. Casually looking from my phone to my surroundings, I found myself in front of a mechanical bull stand. Not exactly a taco, but I’m always up for a challenge. Unfortunately for me, the challenge only lasted around fifteen seconds, and that might be generous.

Recovering from the bull attack, I continued my search for the food. The air was full of many different aromas. Like a beacon of meaty salvation, a giant bull called out to me. Yes, another bull, this one towering over the crowd. Seeing a pattern forming, I quickly filled this under Texan things. Converging onto the bull I then noticed the line. With notions of barbeque out of my mind, I returned on my quest for the food trucks.

Finding my way eventually I rewarded myself with some avocado toast and a bottle of kombucha tea I had accumulated earlier. The food was just as good as I had hoped. While it was a little out of the way, the journey there was part of the fun. And the journey back held just as many surprises.

Another fun attraction I stumbled into was the #myAndroid Truck. A fun little detour where I customized the vehicle and basically pimped it out. The truck, which was full of LED’s, danced in front of my eyes. Away from the glitz and glam, there was also a section where they showed you how to customize your own phone.

Hearing good things from HBO: The Escape, I made my way there. With three rooms that modeled after Silicon Valley, Veep, and Game of Thrones, the idea was very well thought out. This fun activity unfortunately ate up a lot of my schedule for the day. Let’s just say no room can hold me for long.

Ending my day strong, I headed to German Haus to wind down a bit. It was at this point that I realized how SXSW truly brings people together. While in line to enter, I met some amazing people. Everywhere from Australia to Germany, we all shared something in common, we wanted free food. The music was great. Although I didn’t understand most of the words, my new friends were able to fill me in.

VR was a recurring thing I noticed. There were talks about the viability of its use in the future. Every use I saw though, captured it perfectly. From talks about its viability in storytelling, it’s reach into Latin America, and even the potential of VR Sports. Exploring the versatility was definitely exhilarating.

In the end, I would say that this excursion was a success. With all the good food and events, it’s something that I can say I’ve experienced. My first impression, this was just another festival, after living it and seeing what it could bring, all I can say is next year should be another great one.