The Thing About Austin: SXSW Edition

The Thing About Austin: SXSW Edition

The Thing About Austin

By Brandon Solis, Senior Digital Strategist, McCann NY

By all accounts, the SXSW of today feels very different than what it was 20, 10, even 5 years ago. Today’s SXSW almost feels like a social experiment… old and new, right and left, wrangle and wangle. And it's a beautiful thing.

This year, I was lucky enough to attend SXSW with a big group. With so much to do and see, it helped to divide and conquer. From my previous SXSW experience, it's a challenge to have a balanced and satisfying trip. It quickly becomes exhausting and these potentially rich experiences are nothing more than ephemeral echo-chambers.

The interactive portion of SXSW has so many panels and activities. The options are: get the 101 on an industry or emerging platform; go off the rails with a completely random raconteur; and spend your hours going to sponsored brand activations. This is an oversimplification that does not do justice to the breadth of the offerings. Then of course there’s the networking, elevator pitches, team bonding and celeb hunting. 

But what about Willie Nelson, rodeos, South Congress, walks along the river, 6th Street, jam bands, queso and breakfast tacos? As a person in the creative industry and resident of NYC, the most amazing bubble on Earth, there's surely a lot to be learned from these quintessentially Austin experiences.

So, my advice is: between a panel on 3D printed organs and a trendy indoor-bike workout featuring your favorite band live, spend an hour sampling smoked chicken from a school bus lunch-truck or a late night learning a slow two-step to honky tonk at The White Horse. 

For anyone lucky enough to be sent to SXSW, don't forget to find balance. Because Austin, as a city, definitely has.

Many bars feel like houses, just head to the backyard and enjoy a cold one.

These two are across the street from each other. One screams Austin 50 weeks out of the year, the other pays for them.

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