SXSW 2016 was a gauntlet of good times and surprises. Especially surprises. My daily schedule would change (usually for the better) despite how much time I spent researching who was playing where and when. There would be times I would be riding my bike to a venue only to get word that the waiting line to get in extended down the block. There were other times when I overheard a conversation regarding a bigger, better showcase that was currently going on a couple miles away while I was waiting for a artist to take the stage. And there are the surprise shows, the concerts that weren’t advertised and you’ll (painfully) hear of the day after the event. This year’s huge surprise show featured Ryan Adams and The Avett Brothers.
My first and busiest evening was Wednesday. That night I saw Rooney, Kevin Morby, Hinds, Kelela, Neon Indian, and Erykah Badu. I spent two hours waiting in multiple in line in order to get into the venue. Fortunately, the lines had people from all over the world and were all performing throughout the week. Conversing with them made the time fly.
I planned to attend a Ray LaMontagne show Thursday evening; however, he came down with a sudden illness and had to cancel the performance. His replacement? Deftones and (arguably) they put on the best show of the conference. Afterwards, I went to the Pandora Radio venue where they hosted a Americana-theme concert featuring Sam Outcast and country music legend Wynonna Judd.
Friday night ended up being a bust for me. A flash thunderstorm loomed over the city by the time I got into action. I was able to take a handful of photos of Wolfmother before their outdoor show was shut down. Multiple venues followed the same procedure and either shut down or postponed their concerts due to the severe weather.
The storm cleared up early Saturday morning leaving a cool breeze throughout Austin. It was the perfect weather for daytime concerts, and I took advantage of it. I went to the roof top of the Whole Foods headquarters. There I saw Quiet Company play a high energy set and Green River Ordinance, who recently released a top-10, iTunes country album earlier this year. Once that bill finished, I explored the random street entertainment that 6th street and Red River had to offer.
I’ve attended SXSW for the past 7 years. Every Sunday after the conference, I ride my bike towards I35 and see the bumper to bumper traffic that extends all the way north to Dallas, south to San Antonio, east to Houston, and west to California. It’s a parade made of visitors, and I can’t wait for them to come back next year.
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