After losing trainers, wellies and hats to the rivers of mud at some of last years festivals, I decided it was time to hit The States and discover music on a new terrain. Granted this decision isn’t as simple as buying a last minute ticket to Lovebox and jumping on the tube to Victoria Park.
After two emergency passport appointments, one Air BnB booking fail and a layover in Atlanta, I finally arrived in Texas. Sitting in the back of an uber alone at 3am and driving across Austin, running only on adrenaline and with Haim on the radio – I knew this was going to be the trip of a lifetime. Cue the happy tears.
It’s 9 AM Sunday in Austin, and as snow falls in London for the second time in March, my Air BnB hosts are outside feeding their chickens who I’m told are on a kale diet.
With plenty of time to pick up my music badge from Austin Convention Centre, I save myself an uber fare and stroll in the sunshine thirty minutes downtown.
So many of the UK’s hottest breaking artists are on this years line up. The next generation of festival headliners. From Sam Fender, Jade Bird, Superorganism, NOT3S and Dermot Kennedy to bands Pale Waves, IDLES and Shame. History is about to be made.
The streets are paved with some of the worlds greatest musicians, film stars and gaming heroes. For the first conference session I decided to get my blogger head on and take some tips from social strategist Meredith Gonsalves on what makes ‘Hella Good Content’. I’ll let Meredith judge my SXSW content later.
After returning to Austin Java to refuel on the best coffee, I head to the Four Seasons Hotel for John Hardy’s cocktail event honouring International Women’s Day. As the late afternoon Texas sun beats down on the garden patio, I find myself surrounded by powerful and supportive men and women. There’s no competition here, just great hopes for equality and the future of the entertainment industry.
At SXSW the music festival officially starts on Wednesday 14th March, following the film festival, but with much of the music industry already in town, unofficial parties and showcases are already popping off.
A queue that circles the block, with many people being turned away, invite-only Vevo House is the place to be for the next few nights. Not only for its free fully stocked bar, unlimited tacos, table tennis and outdoor terrace, but for exclusive access to intimate performances from the hottest artists at the festival.
Located at 508 Bar & Pelons Tex Mex (that’s right – tequila vibes), tonight’s Vevo House headliner is the one and only Ludacris. With a packed crowd, Ludacris performs about 20 of his top hits including “Welcome 2 Atlanta”, “Move Bitch” and “Money Maker.”
“I feel like I want to perform until 8 in the morning. The best shows are intimate like this. In here we got tastemakers, we got people who live for this shit. Shout out to Vevo. We gon’ make tonight extra special.”
Feeling British, I raise my double gin and tonic and decide Austin is already a second home. SXSW, it’s day one and I love you.
Words by Hayley Thompson // @hayleyyt_