SXSW 2012, where to begin? First off this has to be the most random, out of control, surprising music event in the country. Austin lends it’s already high artistic energy to this and kicks it into overdrive. For most this is an event where you can see damn near anything; except for a donkey show but I honestly am not sure since i never asked. Music seduces your senses with every bar you walk by and no genre is left out. Be prepared to party because whatever your taste in music is the party will find you regardless. From there, reality becomes a blur of sound, drink, good vibes and good people. My personal experience at SX has undoubtedly been one of the best of my life. I went in looking for a good time and left with a new outlook on life, love and the pursuit of happiness.
As a side note, before we continue this story I am omitting all of the names of anyone who was with me, since I’m going to tell the real story of this weekend. Also no animals were harmed and only a few bumps and bruises were had by humans. Heavy use of language and substance abuse of all types will continue from here out.
My three best friends and closest confidants left Lubbock around 10 am of Thursday, March 15. For sake of the story we’ll call them The Dragon Lady, Billy Zane and Connan. By the time I entered the car I had already taken half a bar of Xanax and burned down quite a few bowls. Needless to say I was feeling fucking great and ready to start the weekend. Our drive was serene and filled with great tunes, good bud and good times. We rolled into ATX around 4:30 and hurriedly left our bags at a friend’s house so we could get shit going. As we drove south on I-35, I could feel the energy all around us start to build. By the time we exited to head downtown the streets were absolute madness. People and cars filled every inch of 6th street. We finally were able to park and from there proceeded to meet a very important member of the entourage, The Wild Card.
We meet at Bull McCabes off 7th and Red River, nice dive bar if you’re into that. At this point Billy Zane got out the Xanax and the night officially began for all of us with a shot, beer and bar. From here we immediately grabbed The Wild Card and headed to Auditorium Shores to catch the end of M. Ward and The Shins. The first walking trip you have at SXSW is the preview of what is to come, electricity is in the air to say the least. You find out quick how to keep up with your pack and do your best not to get distracted by the excitement all around.
We arrived at the Shore and got in. Another side note, there are countless free shows all around SXSW. I did not pay to see one act. Fucking awesome. I actually missed most of M. Ward getting more beer and food with the Wild Card but was able to find more of the entourage. I ran into Brother Man but almost immediately lost him due to the fact I was fucked up. I remember at this point that I felt so excited, happy and nervous for the times to come.
Once we regrouped with everyone and got into the crowd, we ran into some totally amazing strangers who gave us Jameson and burned down with us. The best thing about ATX is no doubt the people, everyone there is fucking awesome and looking to have a good time. So cool as a matter of fact that the Dragon Lady got a free hat from a guy just because she said she liked it. The Shins were pristine, just as I had hoped they would be. I totally called most of the set before it was played and when “Carring is Creepy” started it was one of the top ten live music moments of my life. They played a 45 minute set, not bad for free.
Once we left the Shore I was well on my way to fucking party mode. We attempted to get into a show Miike Snow was having at the Lustre Pearl but it was a wristband only show. More side notes, if you are going to SXSW for just the music make sure you do your best to get a wristband because there is a bunch I couldn’t do since I didn’t have one. The night however was far from lost we meet up with everyone at this point. Stewart Little and Cool Cat added to the wolf pack at this point. Honestly, I’m a little fuzzy on the exact details of the night from this point but I know it consisted of bar hopping, BBQ sandwiches, newbies getting tattoos (congrats by the way), weed, drinks and a club called Barcelona that reminded me of hell.
At Barcelona, we meet Brother Man, his girlfriend Foxxy Love and The B-day Girl. We did shots for The B-Day Girl and chilled in hell for a few minutes. We all ended up at the Kung Fu Saloon and listened to a DJ set by Mobb Deep. This is where I first realized for the thousandth time that I have no rhythm, and thus cannot dance worth a shit, sorry ladies. After that, I almost had to beat some ass but was stopped at the last moment by of all people the Wild Card. Thanks for having my back. From here, the first night was coming to a close went and walked through the suburbs of Round Rock, where we were staying and got an awesome pep talk from Billy Zane about being a warrior with your women. Best Xanax conversation I’ve ever had. Simply for the fact I actually remember it so I know that it was a great one. Thanks brother.
I officially ended the night with a chicken fried steak from Star-Seeds Cafe. One of my favorite restaurants in Austin; 3101 I-35 Frontage Rd. Go Check that shit out if you like food. I crashed out on the couch around 6 am and that was day one.
Day 2 began in a fog from the Xanax hangover. I awoke on a love seat and not a full-sized couch as I had originally thought I had. Cats were everywhere and Dragon Ladies bad ass friend was making us breakfast despite the fact it was already noon. I got up showered, ate like a beast and we hung out until our hotel was ready around 3 pm. We got lost on the way to our hotel and ended up at this amazing juice bar. For the partyers out there remember that a good juice cleanse can save your ass in a multi-day party situation. After a little more getting lost we found our shit box of a hotel and checked in.
Once we got to our room Billy Zane and me had to tear up the bathroom and immediately took horrible, stinky shits. About the time I was finishing mine, we were interrupted by another guest who had been assigned the same room. Long story short we had to switch rooms and this guy had to go into a room that smelled like shit, go customer service. After we all got swagged out, we headed back out again for more debauchery.
We started out by meeting up with Stewart Little and Cool Cat and then getting amazing vendor food. After we had all had our fill of food it was time for drink, we went to the Coyote Ugly Saloon. It was full of either dumb or old people who were trashed and dancing on the bar, this fucking place. Dragon Lady and I got yelled at for spitting in trashcan, from a good distance, off the balcony. In all fairness, she did get hers on a table instead of the trashcan but come on, it was an honest mistake. We all bolted from here in hopes of actually catching M. Ward at a smaller show. Boy, were we dumb. We walked for what seemed like forever and I got to see a band randomly hop out of their tour bus and play a show, fucking sweet. We ended up at Cheers Shot Bar, which would later become our official spot for SXSW. From there we were introduced to heavy pouring bartenders and the famous Flaming Dr. Pepper.
At this point as if someone sounded the wolf pack call everyone randomly showed up at cheers and we had our crew for the night. Connan, Billy Zane, Dragon Lady, The Wild Card, Cool Cat, Stewart Little, Brother Man, Foxxy Love, The B-Day Girl, The Trouble Twins, The Best Connect Ever, The Guy who Doesn’t Give a Good Goddamn and Towlie. We roll deep. After several more shots and drink,s we proceeded down 6th. Basically taking over the sidewalk, street and anything else we could as we made our way. NAS was playing a show at the end of sixth that we tried with no avail to get into but this did give me an opportunity to get a bar off of Connan and smoke lots of one hitters.
The Best Connect Ever took us to a very posh, but cool rooftop bar with great bartenders as well. I started off with my first ever Bubble Gum shot courtesy of The Wild Card. That shit actually tastes like fucking bubble gum. Being savage in nature, I kicked the party up another notch by taking some molly and drinking more. There were pretty decent DJ’s and we all danced our asses off, and from what I can tell, took a bunch of sloppy ass pictures. Go us! After we did the rooftop thing, we went to a club I believe was called Kingdom, but I can’t remember for sure. It was actually pretty bad ass great light effects everywhere, good DJ’s and great local brews on tap. A win all the way around for the state I was in. Billy Zane and me had to head-butt each other several times at some point, over what, I can’t honestly remember, but we freaked out a bunch of people. We left Kingdom in the last hour of the night to return to the rooftop bar.
By this time, I was shitfaced and had two more xx’s, we closed down the bar and proceeded back to our cars. Around this point for some reason, I felt the need to jog. Too bad I only made it like five feet then fell down some stairs. Thanks for keeping me from cracking my head open, Dragon Lady and anyone else who pitched in on grabbing me. I was wasted but completely content and full of joy and good spirit. We ended up back at our shitty hotel and had some riot punch with one of the Trouble Twins and The Wild Card. After that, I fell into another coma-like sleep and rested peacefully, attempting to prepare my mind for day 3.
I awoke from my coma on a fold out hotel bed with my arm cut up. “Son of bitch, I did fall”, was the first thought in my mind. I showered and found bumps on my head from Billy Zane and me meat-heading out. SXSW gets fucking crazy. It was 4:30 when the whole crew meet up at The Wild Card’s hotel from there we headed back into the belly of the beast. I went with The wild Card, Brother Man, Foxxy Love and The B-day Girl to some cool sushi restaurant and drank while they ate.
Everyone grouped up at Cheer’s again where I ran into some more buddies, not with our group, who proceeded to tell me about a bad ass free show with the Crystal Method and Erykah Badu headlining. We drank a little more than headed to find the show. Along the way we got held up by a jewelry street vend peddling her wares. Obviously, every female with our group had to stop and look at this crap. Lucky Dragon Lady got some free merch out of this though, she traded a perk 5 for a 60 dollar feather neckless, good trade.
The Show ended up being in a big ass parking lot so we were actually able to get in. I lost several members of the group and got a cheap red bull vodka. The show ended up being an amazing lineup of DJ’s. Big Once, DJ Headspin and Dan the Automator opened up and set a crazy pace for the night to come. Once Datsik started we got into the crowd and got wild. Of all people DJ Jazzy Jeff played next and made some old school music fun as shit, never have gone that hard to the Jackson 5. The Crystal Method followed and brought the fire into the crowd. Great set by a group that still has it only wish it had been longer. ?uestlove was the special guest DJ and it ends up he can spin almost as good as he can drum. His Daft Punk remix is one that i will not forget. Too bad only Foxxy Love and myself caught most of this show but we ragged accordingly. Erykah Badu came on after and as always put on a powerful vocal performance and an interesting show. However her intro needs to be cut down took almost ten minutes of a 45 minute set to introduce the band and her, not cool. We left the show before Z-Trip played but I heard he was good too.
Yet again we ended up where everyone knows your name, Cheer’s. Because I had been so involved in the show I had manly only got really high and not drank much so i decided to use the time to observe the scene in a clear mind. Everyone at this bar was shit faced but being totally cool and having an awesome time so i joined in the spirit by smoking a little more and joining in the festivities. They had another good rapper and DJ outside that we all got down too. By far the person who went the hardest in our group that night was The Guy Who Doesn’t Give a Good Goddamn. Never have seen anyone so hysterically funny while so fucked up. He told me, “Hey you look like me!!! If i weighed fifty pounds more.” in all sincerity not even trying to be a smart ass. I laughed my ass off many times this night. Yet again we closed the bar down.
We ended the evening with possibly my favorite street vendor ever, Death Metal Pizza! Hoek’s Death Metal Pizza, 511 E 6th Street, to be exact. Where you get your fill on pizza, metal and bad ass movies that they watch all the time. I downed three slices in like 5 minutes, amazing. Everyone said their goodbyes for the night and trip for most of the group. From there we went back and crashed out again. Thinking there was no way this trip could be better I went into slumber again.
“What day is this?” first thought in my mind, “Sunday”. I awoke with people crashed out all over our hotel, Brother Man, Foxxy Love and the B-Day Girl had piled in with us for the night. We got everyone up and around and the three guests we had the night before headed back home. We meet up with The Wild Card and The Trouble Twins to eat at the Magnolia Cafe. 1920 S Congress Ave, another do not miss eating spot. We had an amazing lunch and I got some amazing news I was not expecting. The Best Connect ever came through with his promise to find me legit acid, real hippy shit.
The only bad news was that he only had 2.5 hits for me to split between five persons. Usually bad news. Boy, was I wrong this time. We went and got everything he had and headed back to 6th to meet up with The Wild Card and Trouble Twins. Yet again deciding on Cheer’s, which I cannot rep enough. Great indoor and outdoor bar. Connan, Billy Zane, Dragon Lady, The Wild Card and myself all dropped around 5 pm. The Trouble Twins partied alongside us drinking the shit out of anything that came their way. Good job guys!
By 6:15, we were all tripping balls. This was great product by any standard. I’m very spotty on everything that happened next, but we chilled at Cheer’s until around 8:30. During which time we had an amazing time, I actually got to see someone try to plug a phone charger into a beer thinking that there should be no reason why it wouldn’t work. The personal relationships you build while on a good psychedelic trip are amazing and I love everyone who was at that table. Unfortunately, we attracted a creepy molly dealer to our table who wouldn’t leave us the fuck alone and who couldn’t figure out why none of us gave a shit about his molly. So we ducked out to another rooftop bar and got the vibe good again.
Walking 6th was indescribable at this point the music, the people, the energy yet again all amazing and SXSW was pretty much dead by now! I kicked back and chilled with everyone and could not help but wonder how we all looked wearing sunglasses and not drinking at any bar we went too, hahaha. We ended up back at Cheer’s after about an hour and I had the best time laying on an outdoor stage with The Wild Card watching the clouds. The Earth is such an amazing, beautiful place it’s nice to sit back and actually enjoy it every now and then. Everyone tripped good until around 11:30 then once we started to come down it was time to do 6th the right way one more time.
Everyone joined the Trouble Twins in drinking. We bounced around and went to refuel at Hoek’s again, metal and pizza always get the job done. We went back to Cheer’s, again, meet up with some more friends in town and chilled until closing. I’m not sure at what point but I had a good buzz then looked around and all my friends were shithoused. Especially The Wild Card, by the time we left at closing she was trashed. Being the absolute gentleman I am, I got to hold her hair back while she puked up whatever God awful shit the bartender served. Like a true pro, she followed directions to a tee and we made it back to the hotel safe and sound.
While laying on the ground trying to go to sleep I could not help but reflect over this massive wave I had spent all weekend riding. I came to SXSW expecting to see some good music, hopefully get laid (in all honesty) and have a good time. Here at the end I felt that I had got so much more than that; I learned about myself, my friends, this world we live in and more importantly what happiness can truly be. I think we all spend too much time worrying about some of the most inane things. Your life isn’t what you ware, what you do for a living, the shit you see on tv, the image you want people to see of you, life is this. This moment here when we cut all the bullshit and just get real with each other. All of this actually happened i fabricated none of this and guess what it fells fucking great to be real. I love my friends, I love my family, I love my LIFE! If you take one thing out of all of this madness on the pages before you take this, be a happy, predictive, real motherfucker and good shit tends to line up for you.
I woke up on the final day with a warmness in my chest that hasn’t left since. Everyone got up and showered, we checked out and I had to say one of the hardest goodbyes I’ve said in a long time. Wild Card I’m glad we finally got to do some real shit and look forward to many to come . Connan, Dragon Lady and Billy Zane you guys are my family and you know how much you all mean to me. To the rest of my friends, this story is yours as much as it is mine, I love you guys and hope all of you got as much out SXSW 2012 as I did. Anyone reading this, this one story of hundreds of thousands from SXSW please treat yourself to the ride one day.