SXSW Day 1:: Touch Down Austin
Nervous and excited we sit at our terminal in Phoenix on a connection flight to Austin, TX. A thin scruffy boy with long hair approaches. "I like your hat, do you surf?" I realize I'm wearing the "Surf Happens" hat recently acquired at the Annual Rincon Classic Surf Competition. Turns out, our long hair surfer friend is from Hawaii and in the band Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, a rock group based out of California. They're playing SXSW music festival and invite us to their show. We are quick to find out that they are sponsored by Sanuk, a surf brand recently acquired by Santa Barbara's Decker's Corporation. We're making friends and connections before we even set foot in Austin. This is the magic of SXSW.
It's Tuesday, the first day of the music portion of the festival and the city is all a buzz. We call for a cab, but unfortunately there is a two hour wait; thank goodness we have some friends who are able to pick us up and escort us downtown. Earlier in the day, the festival welcomed an interview with Electronic powerhouse Deadmau5, who put on one of the best shows we've seen recently at the SB Bowl. The streets are warm and filled with hipsters and other characters who fulfill Austin's creed of "Keeping Austin Weird."
We arrived late in the evening with empty bellies. The many food trucks lining the streets of Austin are too tempting to bare. BBQ, Korean, Italian, Chinese, Greek, we have endless options. We're in Texas- we opt for BBQ. After having our fill of savory pulled pork, we hit the streets taking in the sights, sounds, and the best people watching since Summer Solstice.
A quick look at our SXSW mobile app & lines wrapping around the block tells us the buzz is on up and coming New York rapper, Action Bronson. Since we arrived in Austin after the press center had closed for the day, we were unable to obtain our passes and were denied entry to The Belmont where Bronson was playing. We rerouted to 6th street, the epicenter of music in Austin, which has been closed to traffic making a wide path for pedestrians and festival attendees. Street performers litter the streets, and live music wafts from every doorway. There is culture, entertainment, fashion and smiles in all directions. We end up at Karma Lounge and dance the night away to Redsean, a house DJ based out of Dallas.
Jet-lagged and weary, we drag ourselves back to our downtown rental. Day one of our SXSW adventure has come to a close.
By Helen Weaver and Caterina Caligiuri
Also featured on The Santa Barbara Independent