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Dispatches from RedEye at SXSW 2012

March 16, 2012|By Jessica Galliart, Ernest Wilkins

Welcome, music nerds. Once a year, Austin, Texas, turns into a hipster Mardi Gras paradise for nearly an entire week during the music portion of SXSW. This year, RedEye made the 20-plus-hour road trip to check it out. Here are a few things we noticed along the way.


11:00 a.m.

Everyone at SXSW looks like they're in a band. Everyone.  --Ernest Wilkins

The first celebrity sighting of the trip? MTV VJ (they still have those, yeah?) Damien Fahey. --Ernest Wilkins

11:27 a.m.

The second: Irene from "Real World: Seattle" Yes, that Irene. --Ernest Wilkins

I wouldn't recommend coming here with an overly inflated sense of ego. Mega-fests like this really remind you how not important you are to the grand scheme of things..or something like that.  --Ernest Wilkins

8:15 p.m.

Three things about Austin they don't tell you at the airport: 1: Everyone has a bike. 2: There are no bike lanes, so it's the Wild West out on the roads. 3: Everyone has a dog. Some of them are as big as Wolverines. --Ernest Wilkins

10:35 p.m.

Chicago is EVERYWHERE down here. At a party, a Chicago DJ dropped local rapper's Chief Keef's "3Hunna" and the place quickly separated into A: People from Chicago (the ones mobbing and moshing super-aggressively) and B: People not from Chicago (the ones looking absolutely confused and wondering why they're being violently shoved. --Ernest Wilkins

The writer of this may or may not have participated in said fracas. --Ernest Wilkins


8:30 a.m.
I'm not sure how I survived before I was introduced to Austin's beloved breakfast tacos (scrambled eggs, cheese and your meat of choice on a flour tortilla). But I know that I might not be able to survive without them when (if?) I return to Chicago. Can you help a sister out, Big Star? --Jessica Galliart

1:15 p.m.

People who do advertising: It's cool to have a stunt but I should probably know what your product is. Looking at you, people in nude bodysuits. --Ernest Wilkins

2 p.m.
Caught a bit of Chicago's White Mystery during Brooklyn Vegan's Chicago showcase at Hotel Vegas. If you have yet to look up this brother-sister rock duo, do it now, if only to check out the siblings' incredible rock star red hair. --Jessica Galliart

3 p.m.
Quickly learning that Austin residents are some of the most laid-back you'll ever meet, after running into zero trouble with groundskeepers while filming a video at Texas State Cemetery. --Jessica Galliart

3:28 p.m.

There's a guy riding through Austin wearing only a thong. He is not ashamed. At all. --Ernest Wilkins

4:30 p.m.
We're finally starting to bump into friends and Chicago folks, and all the talk is about Kanye West's surprise cameo at the Fader Fort tent on Tuesday night: "Did you hear...?" Yes, we heard. And we'd appreciate you not bringing it up again, thanks. --Jessica Galliart

5:45 p.m.
So many Chicago Bulls hats. And jackets. And embroidered denim shirts. Keep up the winning streak, for fashion's sake, Bulls. --Jessica Galliart

8:15 p.m.
Wilmette native and rapper K.Flay takes the stage at the Pandora party at Antone's--both she and her drummer are killing it in front of this crowd of hesitant party hoppers. (Great sneakers, by the way, Flay.) --Jessica Galliart

9 p.m.
A last-minute text from a friend sends me hauling tail the 10-plus blocks to the more residential side of downtown Austin to make a show where Fun. will be taking the stage in an hour in a giant, white metal shed. --Jessica Galliart

11:30 p.m.
Fun. was quite the bust. Read up on what happened here. --Jessica Galliart

Chi-town, Chi-town, Chi-town. Been hearing that declaration from bands on stage everywhere we go, it seems. (There are so many Chicago bands performing all over in Austin during the fest!) --Jessica Galliart

2:30 a.m.
The SXSW dance party goes on. While a lot of the bars have closed, metal and hipster kids continue to dance together to Ace of Base in this backyard of a small bar with string lights and a DIY stage. --Jessica Galliart


1:04 p.m.

Buses in Austin = Look like airport shuttles and no ones pooping on them. Weird, right? --Ernest Wilkins

Nick Waterhouse: Looks like Buddy Holly's nerdier younger brother, plays like Chuck Berry. See this man when he comes to your town. --Ernest Wilkins

10:30 a.m.
How is it nearly 80 degrees already? I'm on my way to grab Gatorade and more breakfast tacos, for crying out loud. --Jessica Galliart

1:00 p.m. 

SXSW is a perfect storm of First-World Problems. I overheard a couple groan about a food truck not having sriacha and being forced to have Tabasco instead. "It's not as flavorful, you know?" --Ernest Wilkins

1:45 p.m.
Traffic has increased two-fold since yesterday morning. If you've driven in downtown Chicago on one of those "Obama's in town" kind of days, it's a piece of cake. To everyone else? Hysteria! --Jessica Galliart

3 p.m.
Video shoot at pool

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