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Dispatches from RedEye at SXSW 2012

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Welcome, music nerds. Once a year, Austin, Texas, turns into a hipster Mardi Gras paradise for nearly an entire week during the music portion of SXSW. This year, RedEye made the 20-plus-hour road trip to check it out. Here are a few things we noticed along the way.

TUESDAY 3/13

11:00 a.m.

Everyone at SXSW looks like they're in a band. Everyone.  --Ernest Wilkins

The first celebrity sighting of the trip? MTV VJ (they still have those, yeah?) Damien Fahey. --Ernest Wilkins

11:27 a.m.

The second: Irene from "Real World: Seattle" Yes, that Irene. --Ernest Wilkins

I wouldn't recommend coming here with an overly inflated sense of ego. Mega-fests like this really remind you how not important you are to the grand scheme of things..or something like that.  --Ernest Wilkins

8:15 p.m.

Three things about Austin they don't tell you at the airport: 1: Everyone has a bike. 2: There are no bike lanes, so it's the Wild West out on the roads. 3: Everyone has a dog. Some of them are as big as Wolverines. --Ernest Wilkins

10:35 p.m.


Chicago is EVERYWHERE down here. At a party, a Chicago DJ dropped local rapper's Chief Keef's "3Hunna" and the place quickly separated into A: People from Chicago (the ones mobbing and moshing super-aggressively) and B: People not from Chicago (the ones looking absolutely confused and wondering why they're being violently shoved. --Ernest Wilkins

The writer of this may or may not have participated in said fracas. --Ernest Wilkins

WEDNESDAY 3/14

8:30 a.m.
I'm not sure how I survived before I was introduced to Austin's beloved breakfast tacos (scrambled eggs, cheese and your meat of choice on a flour tortilla). But I know that I might not be able to survive without them when (if?) I return to Chicago. Can you help a sister out, Big Star? --Jessica Galliart

1:15 p.m.

People who do advertising: It's cool to have a stunt but I should probably know what your product is. Looking at you, people in nude bodysuits. --Ernest Wilkins

2 p.m.
Caught a bit of Chicago's White Mystery during Brooklyn Vegan's Chicago showcase at Hotel Vegas. If you have yet to look up this brother-sister rock duo, do it now, if only to check out the siblings' incredible rock star red hair. --Jessica Galliart

3 p.m.
Quickly learning that Austin residents are some of the most laid-back you'll ever meet, after running into zero trouble with groundskeepers while filming a video at Texas State Cemetery. --Jessica Galliart

3:28 p.m.

There's a guy riding through Austin wearing only a thong. He is not ashamed. At all. --Ernest Wilkins

4:30 p.m.
We're finally starting to bump into friends and Chicago folks, and all the talk is about Kanye West's surprise cameo at the Fader Fort tent on Tuesday night: "Did you hear...?" Yes, we heard. And we'd appreciate you not bringing it up again, thanks. --Jessica Galliart

5:45 p.m.
So many Chicago Bulls hats. And jackets. And embroidered denim shirts. Keep up the winning streak, for fashion's sake, Bulls. --Jessica Galliart

8:15 p.m.
Wilmette native and rapper K.Flay takes the stage at the Pandora party at Antone's--both she and her drummer are killing it in front of this crowd of hesitant party hoppers. (Great sneakers, by the way, Flay.) --Jessica Galliart

9 p.m.
A last-minute text from a friend sends me hauling tail the 10-plus blocks to the more residential side of downtown Austin to make a show where Fun. will be taking the stage in an hour in a giant, white metal shed. --Jessica Galliart

11:30 p.m.
Fun. was quite the bust. Read up on what happened here. --Jessica Galliart

Midnight
Chi-town, Chi-town, Chi-town. Been hearing that declaration from bands on stage everywhere we go, it seems. (There are so many Chicago bands performing all over in Austin during the fest!) --Jessica Galliart

2:30 a.m.
The SXSW dance party goes on. While a lot of the bars have closed, metal and hipster kids continue to dance together to Ace of Base in this backyard of a small bar with string lights and a DIY stage. --Jessica Galliart

THURSDAY 3/15

1:04 p.m.

Buses in Austin = Look like airport shuttles and no ones pooping on them. Weird, right? --Ernest Wilkins

Nick Waterhouse: Looks like Buddy Holly's nerdier younger brother, plays like Chuck Berry. See this man when he comes to your town. --Ernest Wilkins

10:30 a.m.
How is it nearly 80 degrees already? I'm on my way to grab Gatorade and more breakfast tacos, for crying out loud. --Jessica Galliart

1:00 p.m. 

SXSW is a perfect storm of First-World Problems. I overheard a couple groan about a food truck not having sriacha and being forced to have Tabasco instead. "It's not as flavorful, you know?" --Ernest Wilkins


1:45 p.m.
Traffic has increased two-fold since yesterday morning. If you've driven in downtown Chicago on one of those "Obama's in town" kind of days, it's a piece of cake. To everyone else? Hysteria! --Jessica Galliart

3 p.m.
Video shoot at pool

3:17 p.m.
Fun story time: Walking down Congress, I noticed a large group of black males. Being a black male myself, I paid no attention. Eventually I notice that I'm now walking IN this large group of black males. Also, Wiz Khalifa is directly in front of me. Not being an idiot, I keep with the flow. We go to a bar, skip line, and end up at a showcase. This is ridiculous. Wiz is a really nice guy. Gave me a beer! --Ernest Wilkins

5:30 p.m.
At our first SXSW badges-only show, we finally see how the other side lives. And, yes, it's pretty sweet. (We don't plan on getting used to it, no.) Accidentally met the band manager for Gossip to ask her about her wacky fashions while Gossip was playing on stage. Life is weird. --Jessica Galliart

Thing no one is discussing down here: Danny Brown and hometown hero JC Brooks are rockin' the same hairstyle.  --Ernest Wilkins

Other thing no one is discussing: How all the bartenders in Austin pour heavy. I am not complaining. --Ernest Wilkins

5:50 p.m.
And the complete congestion begins. These curbs are on their way to getting filled calf-deep with trash. --Jessica Galliart

8 p.m.
In case you were wondering where all of the Chicago hip-hop and rap groups were at this weekend, they're here at this SXSW Ruby Hornet show. Yep, every single of them. --Jessica Galliart

11:30 p.m.
Caught the end of A-Trak's set to then be greeted by comedian and performer Reggie Watts emceeing the Turntable.fm party (open to the public, $20) with a British accent, of course. He advises against doing any drugs except for mushrooms at these electronic dance music shows, by the way. In the mean time, ?uestlove sets up for his hour-long set. --Jessica Galliart

12:31 a.m.
Props to the Turntable team for opting to not pack this giant shed with elbow-to-elbow bodies and instead giving all of the concert-goers some room to breathe--and dance their faces off. Which we all definitely did. --Jessica Galliart

12:58 a.m.
?uestlove wins it. All of it. The Roots band leader ran through decades of hits during his hour-long set and kept the crowd dancing nonstop. Just when you thought you couldn't possibly restart your calves again, on comes Kanye's "Gold Digger." Best party of the fest thus far. --Jessica Galliart

1:20 a.m.
Diplo has been on for 20 minutes and I've already counted at least 4 water bottles getting thrown by the EDM god himself on stage. The interaction he has with his crowds is perfection, silly and fist pump-worthy. --Jessica Galliart

The three-headed DJ monster of A-Trak/?uestlove/Diplo isn't just a way to burn off 40,983 calories, it's also a religious experience. --Ernest Wilkins
 
3 a.m.
A sheriff is directing traffic at the Whattaburger drive-thru. Speechless. --Jessica Galliart

In a touching moment, a white guy hands me(a non-white guy) an onion ring from the next car over while we're waiting for our food. It tastes...post-racial. --Ernest Wilkins

3:17 a.m.
Whataburger was just as delicious as everyone says it is. My baby hands could barely hold the patty burger with the massive circumference. --Jessica Galliart

FRIDAY 3/16

Noon
I'm going to go ahead and declare that the official uniform of SXSW 2012 will have included at least one denim garment that is not a pair of pants. Preferably a vest or jacket. --Jessica Galliart

2:30 p.m.
Locals at Birds Barbershop in Austin tell me how much of a pain in the [bleep] getting to work has been this week. But they do love the barrage of music when they open the door to the barbershop, so... --Jessica Galliart

4:26 p.m.

You know what's cool? Riding the bus. You know what's not cool? Getting on the wrong bus, then getting a hour-long scenic tour of Austin while you're feverishly trying to find out where you are on a smartphone.  --Ernest Wilkins

4:50 p.m.
Austin has a huge urban colony of bats living under a bridge downtown. Austin, 1. Chicago, 0. --Jessica Galliart

6:10 p.m.
Everyone waiting to get into the "Workaholics" house party needs to show their learner's permits, stat. Where'd your mom drop you off, guys? --Jessica Galliart

6:32 p.m.

Ah yes...the "Workaholics" party. A absolute blast of a bash with the Cool Kids ripping the stage. The guys themselves were all cool, although when they got swarmed by what appeared to be a horde of giggling schoolgirls and nu-bros in "Keep Austin Stoned" shirts, I definitely felt for them--Ernest Wilkins

8:12 p.m.

A young lady unfortunately breaks Rules #1-9 of partying: Don't projectile vomit everywhere. Oh boyyyy--Ernest Wilkins

8:55 p.m.
We have a barfer! Poor girl lost her cookies sitting off to the side of the stage at the "Workaholics" house party while The Cool Kids were performing. Twice. Well, it's an easy way to clear a crowd, at least. --Jessica Galliart

9:50 p.m.
Line to see Jack White at the Third Man Showcase at The Stage on Sixth spanned more than an entire block, not moving much at all. After a staffer suggested people just GTFO of line, as they were at capacity and it was one in, one out at that point, I aborted the mission to hear some of his upcoming album "Blunderbuss." If one more drunk passing by asked me who I was waiting for, my aching feet might have mustered up the energy to land a dropkick on someone's face. --Jessica Galliart

10:04 p.m.
Locals apparently call the epicenter of downtown and SXSW the "Dirty Six." I definitely get that. Nearly just stepped in a bowl of soup in the middle of the street. A bowl of soup. (Still cleaner on Day Four than Lollapalooza will ever be on Day One, though.) --Jessica Galliart

Midnight
According to Twitter, Bill Murray was at the Jack White show. Of course he was, right? Yeah. --Jessica Galliart

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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