There is no doubt that SXSW attracts an eclectic group of creative people from around the world. You find yourself dodging musicians, film makers, producers, techies, and all other types of right-brainers while maneuvering the ridiculously crowed 6th Street. 6th and Congress streets host the bulk of the festivities with a variety of clubs, restaurants, stores, and parking lots turned outdoor performance venues.
The official conference workshops that focus on music, film, and interactive technology are held at the Austin Convention Center. The passes/wristband to attend the conference and sponsored events throughout the city will cost from $150 if you are an Austin resident to $900 for non residents to gain all access Platinum status. Whatever pass you have one thing is certain, you will have to know how to navigate via Map, GPS, or intuition to find the thousands of performances spread throughout the city. For those who attend on a budget, or like to “whoride” on the dream, there are just as many if not more creative adventures to get into. From spontaneous free-style rhyme sessions in the streets to hundreds of unofficial performances, you will be sure to get yours!
In and around the vicinity of East 6th Street is the place to be for an even more independent, down to earth experience. Treasures such as Switched On, a small store that specializes in the sale and repair of vintage analog synths and drum machines and the Trailer Park, a parking lot which houses some of the yummiest mobile food including vegan and desert options, were among the many surprises as we wandered the streets in search of fun and adventure.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the craziness in the streets or distracted by the cupcake truck or school bus surrounded by youngsters with the rock band playing inside, but somehow we managed to find our way to see Chico Mann at the Wax Poetics party. Chico Mann is an audio treat whose music simply gets your mind right and keeps your heart open (as well as make one “act a fool” on the dance floor). Marcos Garcia, the man behind the avatar is a former member of Antibalas,afro-beat legends based in Brooklyn. The rhythms of his Cuban upbringing and New Jersey street stomping are heard through his Casio Keyboards and drum machines. If you don’t already know about him, find out! He is currently working on a new album that he says will be a blend of his older recorded material and live performances. He is scheduled to return to California in early May. Keep your ear on the streets!