Monika breaks down the best things from this year’s SXSW for you.

Since the ‘80s SXSW has been a staple in Austin for musicians and music lovers alike and this year I had a chance to scope out the scene and I sifted the best and worst moments from the annual festival for you.

MUSIC

Thousands of people descend into the Austin each year to catch one of their favorite acts but mostly to check out new music and there was plenty of that. I was able to catch sets by Mt. Joy, El Paso’s own The Chamanas, The Roots, Thandie Phoenix from Australia, Welshley Arms, Nina Nesbitt, and Logan Henderson to name a few, including a very impromptu interview with MAX. The reality is that you will never be able to see every single act since there are hundreds of artists from all over the world performing during SXSW but believe me there are so many shows that you do get your fill of music overall.

THE PEOPLE

SXSW brings in thousands of people each year from all walks of life and that’s probably one of the best aspects of the festival. Not only was I able to connect with friends from the radio industry but also make new friends and bond over an artist or just from having a great time and being in the moment and sharing that with the people around you. On the flip side, as the night comes there are a lot of people who are out of their minds drunk and if you don’t mind the occasional person puking or passing out next to you then you’ll be fine.

FOOD

No festival is truly complete without a good variety of food and I have to say that our go to preference was the food truck area. There you could find everything from smoothies, salads, Cuban sandwiches, to my ultimate favorite, a veggie eggroll from the Angry Eggroll. By the way, no trip to Austin would be complete without a donut run from Voodoo Donuts – so of course we hit it up and loaded up on a sugar rush before we ventured out onto 6th Street once again.

SECURITY

SXSW took place during the bomb scare that gripped the city for a few weeks when a mad man was planting bombs across the city. Thank goodness there were no incidents during the festival and I must say the whole time we were out there the presence of police did not go unnoticed. There were clusters of police on foot, on horse, in patrol cars, EMT’s were also on site and so were firefighters. I gotta say, I felt safe and secure having them around.

FILM / GAMING CONVENTION

The film portion of SXSW wrapped up pretty much by the time we landed since we only took in the last four days of the festival but apparently it drew stars from all over, including Jennifer Lopez who was reportedly staying the Four Season in downtown Austin. We did however make it to the Gamming Convention and that was as you may have guessed – a big room with a bunch of gear and screens with guys all going wild over the latest and greatest tech.

6th STREET

6th Street was hopping especially on Friday and Saturday night were you could catch a glimpse of all the epic craziness. 6th Street was filled with people from all over the world, young and old, drunk, high, sober, performers, musicians, actors, you can see it all. People peddling their music on cd’s, flyers to another gig, or bars hollering at you to get in on their nightly drink specials. It is as you would imagine a freaking party filled with people squeezed up and down street blocks. If you are a not down with large crowds then this would not be for you so keep that in mind.

FREE SHOWS

Admission to SXSW can be pretty pricey – depending on what you are attending whether you are attending the film, music, VIP or even the gamming convention, fees can vary anywhere from $25 to $2000. If you have a pass then you are golden, but there are also tons of showcases that were free to attend such as bars, radio station events, and even the music streaming music app Pandora held their music showcase for free during the day.

POP UP DC STORE

The Pop Up DC Store set up shop at SXSW featuring the Superman statue from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batmobiles, giant comic panels, Aquaman and Wonder Woman statues, and plenty of comics, graphic novels and novelties for sale.  Not only was the store free to browse but it was an awesome experience especially for those of us who are comic and fans of Superman, Batman and the rest of the bunch.

STAFF

I have to say that every single SXSW staff person I interacted with and witnessed as they dealt with the mass crowds was nothing but helpful and patient. They deserve a shout out for keeping it together amongst the organized chaos that is SXSW.

WEATHER

The weather was mostly cloudy a few rain drops here and there but mostly it was pleasant except for the second day we were there. The humidity got the best of me as three o’clock rolled up and I had to come to terms that all my makeup had melted off and my hair was a big curl ball.

Overall SXSW was an epic adventure filled with new friends, new music and lots of laughs. If you ever have a chance to experience SXSW do it – and remember you can totally hang for free so live a little and make plans to hit it up next year!