Those who are familiar with music festival giants such as Coachella in Indio, California or Lollapalooza that’s nestled between downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan may have heard of SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin, Texas.
Unlike the aforementioned music festivals, SXSW is more of a conference that not only hosts new and loved bands, but also showcases independent films and introduces emerging technologies. You’ll see your favorite not-yet-mainstream bands, as well as newer ones who hope to get their names out there and possibly even secure a record deal by the end of the festival. That’s how John Mayer was discovered. Various interactive showcases occur throughout the week, with indie films discussed and new apps being displayed.
This year’s lineup seems to be more diversified than the previous years — if that is even possible. Even months before the lineup was made official, SXSW boasted of a differentiated and unique pick of artists. A songwriter from Philadelphia, who goes by the name Alex G, showcased his mellow “bedroom pop” style with the song “Serpent is Lord.” Girlpool, a band consisting of two Los Angeles natives, performed an original, “Chinatown,” with only a guitar and bass.
The festival went international this year, bringing in some of the biggest names in Asia, specifically Korea. This makes the festival truly unique. Epik High, a hip hop trio consisting of two MCs and a DJ, are one of seven acts that will go live on Thursday, March 19, at SXSW. Tablo, the leader, is a Stanford University alum who combines Eastern and Western cultures seamlessly and spits them into lyrical poetry. This group has been known as one of the main contributors to bring hip-hop to the mainstream in South Korea.
As previously mentioned, however, music is not the only thing that goes on at SXSW, and this year is certainly no exception. On Sunday, protesters staged a mini-rally against the use and development of artificial intelligence. About two dozen protesters, led by a computer engineer, held signs with the phrases “Stop the robots,” and “Humans are the future.” The protesters seemed to be expressing their concern of a future society in which technology dictates everything.
On Monday, SXSW hosted an entrepreneur from a company that is rapidly growing. Lyft’s co-founder and CEO Logan Green presented a keynote on “Fixing Transportation With Humanity and Technology.” The main idea Green expressed was that Lyft has a greater mission above providing a relatively inexpensive form of transportation. This greater social mission is to eliminate the need for car ownership. Time will tell if Green will be able to execute this goal.
SXSW prides itself in hosting revolutionary and pioneering spirits. A subcomponent of SXSW, SXStyle is a platform in which creative minds come together and discuss their ideas and work. YouTube beauty guru Michelle Phan and COO of Lucky/Conde Nast Eva Chen came together and discussed social media as a powerful medium in which ideas are spread, as well as how to be sincere while trying to appeal to the masses.
Music, technology and food are varied events, which are a testament to the diverse and innovative atmosphere of SXSW. The festival will continue offering its goers fresh and exciting events to attend until it ends Sunday.