South by Southwest has already overtaken Austin this weekend. The Dallas Morning News sent reporters to catch the big ideas, trends and politics at one of Texas' most topically diverse festivals.
Here's a diary of what our reporters have seen so far.
Film critic's top pick: Sidemen: Long Road to Glory
By CHRIS VOGNAR, Culture Critic
I've already seen the big opening night movie for South by Southwest Film, Richard Linklater's Everybody Wants Some!!, and I'm happy to report it marks a continuation of the Austin film godfather's hot streak. It's more Dazed and Confused than Boyhood, a bawdy comedy about flaky but hyper-competitive college baseball players waiting for the school year to start in what seems to be San Marcos. But it still has that Linklater Zen touch, that deep appreciation for the fleeting moments that form a day or a life.
In lieu of a return Wants Some engagement, I checked out Sidemen: Long Road to Glory. It's a documentary about the unsung blues sidemen who made the songs of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf pop and wail. I do love the blues, and the film editor, Bo Mehrad, is an old school chum of mine. After that, if I'm still conscious, I may try to hit the Texas Shorts block, which includes the latest from former Dallasite Yen Tan, 1985.
The Obama traffic jam that wasn't
By BRITTNEY MARTIN, Austin Bureau Reporter
President Barack Obama's visit to Austin on Friday didn't have the catastrophic effect on transportation some predicted -- at least based on my experience. I took a detour around one blocked street on my way to the event, but otherwise arrived without issue. Plus, there was plenty of parking. The expected citywide meltdown was probably avoided thanks to Mayor Steve Adler's suggestion that everyone work from home Friday.
A little friendly SXSW advice offered by an Austinite: "Welcome to Austin! Please don't move here."
- Twitter: @BeeDotMartin
'There's still a lot to get out of [SXSW], despite the commercialization'
By MELISSA REPKO, Tech, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Reporter
On Saturday morning, Jeanette Pritchard and her boyfriend, Erik McCowan, took the train into downtown Austin. The Austin couple has gone to South by Southwest for years, before it hosted movie premieres, had sessions sponsored by McDonald's or a mechanical TwinkieBull and Ferris wheel.
Pritchard attended her first SXSW in 1994, when she was a Texas Tech student on spring break. Now, she said, the film, music and interactive festival is a marketing extravaganza. "It sometimes feels like one big, long commercial," she said.
Within seconds of getting off the train near the festival, guys in blue, pointy wizard hats handed Pritchard a business card about their startup. Across the street, a girl gave out free T-shirts with her company's logo. Two shiny Mazda cars were parked on the sidewalk in a display.
But Pritchard, a graphic designer, said she still looks forward to the event. "There's still a lot to get out of it, despite the commercialization," she said.
And also: Babies go to SXSW: Hundreds of people stood in a line that wrapped around the first floor of the Austin Convention Center on Friday morning. They swapped festival tips and startup pitches, swiped on their phones and sipped coffee as they waited to pick up their Interactive badges. Festival-goers walking around the convention center lobby spoke English, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Polish, a reflection of how the festival has become international. A baby also came to SXSW, wearing suspenders and a onesie that read: "I'm pitching cute."
By BRITTON PEELE, Entertainment Editor-Producer
I've never been to South by Southwest before, but I've been eager to get to Austin to check out its growing independent videogame development scene. For my first year, SXSW Interactive is primarily about one thing: virtual reality.
Looking at the scheduled panels and events, you could fill every single hour of SXSW Interactive with a different VR (Virtual Reality) or AR (Augmented Reality) activity. I've been watching the industry for years because of its expanding influence in games, but this year the market is breaking out. There are VR panels about travel, TV, workplace efficiency, medical uses and even its future in storytelling for news organizations.
To that end, a lot of my time at the show won't be spent reporting -- I'll be learning. Several panels on the Interactive schedule deal with the media's place in an ever-evolving digital landscape.
Coming next week: a trek through the musical matrix
By HUNTER HAUK, Pop Music Critic
I won't be entering the South by Southwest matrix until the music portion starts heating up Wednesday. Yet the Austin behemoth has already taken over my life right here in Dallas. Huge chunks of the last week have involved making my way through sight-blurring lists of names and places -- online, printed out, scribbled down chaotically and otherwise. Hundreds of acts from the unknown to the North Texas-affiliated to the legendary are appearing at showcases and unofficial events in Austin.
When I started doing SXSW about a decade ago, I felt the need to carve out each day by the minute. That's impossible these days. Now I have four or five targets for each hour, and there's no guarantee time or traffic will be kind regarding any of 'em.
When I wonder why I keep doing this, I look at some of the things I've written down: A chance to see East Texas star Kacey Musgraves and Arlington country up-and-comer Maren Morris in the backyard-like confines of the Spotify House. Possible David Bowie celebrations from producer Tony Visconti (a SXSW keynote speaker) and rock legend Iggy Pop (a showcase performer). A tongue-in-cheek day party dubbed "Make SXSW Great Again." The lists go on.
Don't get me wrong: One need not plan a thing in advance to enjoy SXSW. One of these years I might just go as a music lover, free of deadlines and rules regarding total sobriety. Until then, I'll be the one running down Congress with a laptop bag, hoping there's not a monster line wrapped around whatever venue's next on my agenda.
Story compiled by Christopher Wynn
Check back to guidelive.com/sxsw for more musings during this vibrant fest.