Brace yourselves. SXSW is coming! The popular meme floating around the interwebs was inspired by the festival’s legendary reputation. And with good reason, considering everyone has an epic SXSW story. With approximately 400,000 participants, attendees, and celebrities descending on Austin from all over the world, it’s hard to not have a crazy tale about what I refer to as “adult Spring Break.”
To celebrate the return of the festival for another year, here are 14 quotes from Austin locals that perfectly explain the phenomenon that is SXSW.
1/ Allison Welsh, Publicist, Resplendent Hospitality
“I was managing at 24 Diner my very first SXSW. While driving to my 4 a.m. shift, one of my employees called me and told me that Bill Murray was sitting at table 45. I lost my s*** and sped like crazy to get to the diner before he left. Lucky enough, I rolled up and spotted him inside speaking with the manager I was about to relieve.
“Trying to play it cool, I walked in and decided to hang by the hostess stand so I could be there to de-greet him. After just a few minutes, he stood up and started to make his exit. As he makes his way to the door, I waived and said “thanks.” He then did a double take of me and turned back, stuck out his hand, and said, “What’s your name?” I proceeded to babble, going on about how much I love him and the bands I had seen, and that I almost vomited a few minutes earlier because I legit ran from the parking lot on Bowie (when it actually was a parking lot), and was completely winded.
“He shook my hand for about a minute and a half, said goodbye, and I never saw him again.”
2/ Rob Lippincott, Owner, Güero’s Taco Bar
“It’s really busy and everyone wears black.”
3/ Justin Lavenue and Dennis Gobis, Co-owners, The Roosevelt Room
“During SXSW 2016, The Roosevelt Room served as an official venue for a series of hip-hop showcases. One evening, they had a surprise visit from Master P, who was accompanied by a formidable looking bodyguard wearing a ski mask. Master P performed one song and threw a supply of signature “No Limit” t-shirts out to the audience.”
4/ Bill Tucker, Lead Blogger, The Austinot
“Over four days of music, I walked 60,000 steps, covered 28 miles, and saw 22 bands. An all-female psycho-punk band from Spain. James Supercave. More Austin music than I see in a full year.
And that’s why this festival exists. Of course, it’s a pain in the neck. The traffic, the tourists, the noise. All of that is valid. Love it or hate it, for 10 days, Austin is the center of the entertainment universe. A showcase for what makes our city great: art, music, and quirky fun.”
➡ Keep reading: “Four Short Stories About SXSW Music 2016”
5-6/ Trevor Williams, Server and Freelance Security Officer
“Woody Allen was looking for Bill Murray and got my attention by shaking me by the shoulders. ‘He just drank a bottle of tequila! We need to find him…Tell me if you see him,’ he said to me.”
“So Maggie Mae’s was hosting the after-party for the cast and crew of Drinking Buddies, and I was working front door security for the occasion. Jake Johnson and Ron Livingston showed up in a timely manner with the second wave of the crew. Anna Kendrick, I don’t remember being there…and Olivia Wilde had an entourage of three or four other people arrive with her a little after everyone else got there. Her driver and I exchanged numbers, so I’d be notified when he was coming back.
“Later in the night, the sky opened up and didn’t stop. A midnight sprint to the barricade to let the driver in left me in a very wet and expensive suit. Looking like a wet dog in nice clothes, I wrangled up Miss Wilde’s posse and escorted them to the front doors. A joke was made about making a mad dash to the car when I stepped in. ‘No, no, no. That’s not how this works,’ I say as I step out in front of them, open the door, and magically reveal an umbrella.
“After they all huddle beneath the tarpaulin salvation, we walk to the car where everyone quickly finds a seat. Olivia turns to me before she heads in and says, ‘I’ve heard about southern hospitality, thank you.’ Plants a soft peck on my cheek and leaves me weak-kneed standing in the rain.”
7/ Tracy Hawk, Server at Dai Due
“SXSW is a complete and total takeover of Austin. Bars pop up that don’t exist 51 weeks out of the year. Working in the industry, the clientele is a complete 180. Regulars don’t come out of their homes. Honestly, it’s good while it lasts, but it’s always good when it’s over. Seeing Bill Murray, Debi Mazar, and Questlove in the restaurant is definitely cool.”
8/ Marcus TenHarmsel, General Manager, Lazarus Brewing Company
“Last year, it was our first SXSW. It was business as usual at the brewery, when all of a sudden we noticed that GZA was playing super loud across the street at Whisler’s. As soon as I realized it was live, I busted over there to catch the show. It was rad and unexpected.”
9-11/ Julian Acosta, Musician
“Bought a bike for $35 from a dude on the way to the airport at Home Slice at 3 a.m.”
“Got married for a day to a girl named Gabi from the UK. We met at Arlyn Studios over mezcal shots.”
“Showed up to Antone’s to meet Robert Cray and Steve Jordan personally, then rode away on a horse.”
12/ Jesse Stowell, Publicist, Parker Phoenix Public Relations
“I moved to Austin thinking SXSW was like every other day of the year. Thank God it’s not, or I would be in a hospital suffering from ‘exhaustion.'”
13/ Maya Shabi, General Manager, Hopfields
“I remember going out during SXSW for St. Patty’s Day, drinking all day, and enjoying the fun and merriment, only to end up at The Strokes playing a free show at Auditorium Shores. Which was great!
“As soon as it was over and we started walking back downtown, someone threw up (like projectile vomit) coming out of a bar, and landed all over my feet and legs. Good ol’ Dirty Sixth never fails you on that one.”
14/ Matthew Lee, Owner, Tèo Gelato
“Where else other than SXSW can you launch a new app in the morning and then launch yourself from a concert stage at night?”
I think I speak on behalf of Austinites everywhere: when the festival’s over, please get on a plane, train, or automobile, and return to wherever it is you came from. It’s nothing personal. Us locals just have a hard time comprehending how our city swells before our eyes, and why getting from north to south Austin is literally impossible.
And while you’re on your way home, scrolling through your Instagram and trying to remember all the amazing things that happened to you, be sure to thank a local for enduring the past 10 days of insanity. We live here; we work here. Some of us love SX and some of us hate it. But regardless, we’ll see you again next year because–let’s be real–SXSW is amazing.
@dollarsaenz wants to know:
What’s your best SXSW story?