Signing Off SXSW: Amanda’s Final Dispatch


What does four days of plugging around SXSW get you? Sore feet, sunburn, and lack of sleep for starters. But I guess it’s inevitable when you wake up at 8:00am and don’t turn in for the night until 2:00am. There’s so much to see and do in Austin during SXSW, it’s impossible to cram everything you want to do in a day. Wait… I feel like I have said that before. Oh yeah, I have because it’s just so true. There are speakers, gaming conferences, live music, day parties, international events, unofficial showcases, sight-seeing, ect. that make being so busy such a good problem to have.

While it was my first time at SXSW, I feel like I had an incredibly successful experience. I got to see so many great shows by from some familiar faces as well as artists I have never seen before. The Dirty Nil, Car Seat Headrest, Ben Kweller, Reignwolf, Combo Chimbita, Hayes Carll and Laura Jane Grace just to name a few.

And while the shows were all outstanding, just being a part of the hustle and bustle downtown was a trip in and of itself. SXSW is a melting pot, where people and artists from all across the world come together to share a love for music and an artist’s craft. Some are there to network, some are there to party, but everyone is there because they want to share and create an experience of live music.

I have already reminisced about some of my favorite SXSW experiences (refer to TCM’s SXSW coverage of Day 3 and Day 4) but my last day in Austin really left me with mixed emotions. While I felt physically drained and ready to sleep in my own bed, my spirit was still going strong. The city explodes with life during this festival and I wasn’t ready to give it up just yet. The good vibes are contagious and I feel like could have spent at least three more days enjoying Austin.

However, my last day was spent just right. I got to head on down to Camp Sandy lake resort to check out the Jam in the Van music sessions. Jam in the Van is a project that started in 2011 where musicians large and small are invited to come out and (literally) jam in a van. Bands like SWMRS, Joyce Manor, Gary Clark Junior are just a few of the noted veterans of the program. I found out that not only does Jam in the Van give new, undiscovered artists a great platform for sharing their music with an larger audience, they are also the only recording studio that is 100% solar powered. The environmentalist in me was beaming.

It was a really unique experience seeing how it’s done. I found myself enjoying some terrific Texas hospitality. Having never been to Austin (or Texas) before, I very quickly fell in love with the city. The warm sunshine, bustling streets, music pouring out of every crevasse — Austin really creates a certain charm that’s hard to ignore.

While it may seem big and daunting, SXSW is a must for any music lover. I had a fantastic time and hope I get to experience the fun again next year.