Day 1, March 13, 2015
We arrived in Austin around midnight on Thursday March 12th and hung around the airport waiting for a couple of friends to land so that we could share a cab into town. When we arrived at our final destination (the home of the generous and wonderful Tim & Karrie League), our host and the other people who are staying at the house were in the basement enjoying some fine bourbon and conversation.
If you start socializing at 1am, don’t be surprised that it’s after 4am by the time you roll into bed!
Our actual first day was fine and mellow. We woke up on Friday and had a light breakfast, in anticipation of the crawfish boil that would be taking place at the Leagues’ a few hours later. A perfect start to any festival? A cookout in a friend’s back yard.
After the crawfish, we rode downtown with the inimitable Aaron Hillis (our impromptu date for the day) to pick up our badges. The process was simpler than anticipated, and even though the crowds did seem chaotic and endless, SXSW does not seem to be as complicated to navigate as I was led to believe.
Next up, Aaron took us to a taco stand by the side of the road, a completely delicious pitstop before our first screening of the fest – Jonathan Demme presenting a programme of Austin-made short films from 1980.
Apparently, Demme, saw the program back in the day and was so impressed that he took the collection to New York to present there, and was returning to re-present them in Austin this year. The hit of the night was a manic, black & white, Super 8 short called Invasion of the Aluminum People.
After the screening, we decided to skip the official opening party (and the undoubtedly countless other parties that were probably going on) in favour of an early night’s sleep to prepare us for a hefty weekend of socializing ahead.
Lessons learned on Day 1:
- Just like at any other festival, you can choose the hyped films & activities, or you can make more obscure choices at SXSW. It can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
- The number of people in downtown Austin during this festival is just bananas (I know, it gets worse once the music section starts, but damn, it’s already crazy).
- Alamo Drafthouse cinemas are the undisputed kings and queens of film exhibition. It doesn’t get better.
- If you are a badge holder at SXSW, you can pretty much get into anything you want, as long as you’re willing to line up early enough. It’s not so hard!
- Austinites may dispute this, but I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a bad taco in this town.
p.s. HOLY GOD THE WEATHER IS SO GREAT HERE! FORGIVE ME FOR GOING ON ABOUT IT, BUT I AM, AFTER ALL, CANADIAN!