few notes: The Sundown United crew & The Down Market squad teamed up with The Domination Team of SXSW. The “Domination Team” is the name of Micco’s group of insiders hitting SXSW. It’s a core of 50 people (SXSW employees, volunteers, artists, promoters, SXSW veterans, Twitter personalities and more). There’s over 150 domination team members that primary communicate through the GroupMe app. There’s also a special spreadsheet of events/rsvps maintained by Micco with the help of the rest of the Domination Team. Thousands more follow the greater group’s activities in various social media outlets.
SXSW Day 1:
After an amazing Day 0 of SXSW with ATX Startup Crawl, I groggily shake off the hangover (with the help of tacos, Advil, and Gatorade), prep my bag for departure) and prepare to call a Lyft downtown. Before I go, I record video instructions to friends arriving later to my place on how to get in and settled. I officially leave around 12:30pm headed to the line at Austin Music Hall. The plan today is to hit the Democratic Fundraiser with President Obama, the connect with the Domination Team before finding a good party spot to end the night. Of course, keeping plans open for random surprise events that popup.
Meanwhile, Domination Team is slowly hitting the streets, picking up the necessary badges and wristbands early to knock it out the way. Fast Company and Dell Lounge are hit by a few for food, drinks, and some good presentations on various tech topics. A few grab Samsung wristbands for a Strokes concert that night by winning a Samsung twitter contest.
I land in line at Austin Music Hall, about 100 people deep. A good spot considering it fits 2,000 or so, but since it’s General Admission and standing room only, I’m glad we are early because we nab a close spot to the stage. I meetup with a fellow dominator already inline and we proceed to wait, but not before stashing our bags in a gold’s gym locker downtown (can’t take bags into the Obama event).
Meanwhile, some members of Domination Team hits a spot new to SXSW that turns out to be a winner: VideoTape HQ. VideoTape is hosting several events through SXSW throughout Interactive, Film and Music. Apparently the venue has a good ambiance and drinks are flowing. Phone recharge stations abound and it immediately becomes a great relax spot for when we’re in between major events and need a moment to chill. This gives us three (6) good chill spots so far when in between events: Fast Company, Samsung, Mashable, Google Fiber Space, and now VideoTape.
By 2pm, the doors for Austin Music Hall open up for the Democratic Fundraiser event and a thousand people and myself pour in. Complementary food is laid out, but the bar is not free, which is fine by me, as I’m still hungover. I grab a bite and then pop some special “Scooby snacks” I brought as my chosen vice for the day over alcohol.
Will.I.Am comes out around 4pm to give a nostalgiac speech about the original primary campaign for Obama and how it’s important that no matter who wins the Democratic nomination, it’s important we vote for them to prevent Trump. J.Cole’s performance quickly follows, and he shows humility saying he’s OK with being just an opening act for Obama. His show is great, performing his latest hits from the past 2 years; he even set’s up each song with a little speech like the interlude on an album.
Nearly an hour after J.Cole, Obama hits the stage to a raucous welcoming from the crowd. He starts of well, talking about how he loves Austin, the different things he’s seen so far at SXSW that live up to Austin’s weirdness. He transitions into his stump speech well, connecting Austin to one of the first large crowds Obama had at the beginning of his presidential campaign. He lists of accomplishments of the administration before getting to the heart of the speech, which is to support the democratic nominee, regardless how it may be. He does spend a good 5 minutes basically doing a comedic standup set clowning the Republican race, but he does it with intelligence and class, not the base insults they use.
After Obama, I part ways with my friend attending with me, and I hop around a bit looking for free food and finally find some at Food + Tech event on Rainey street at El Naranj. I play the role of Journalist/PR for Food and Festivals for my cousins magazine Sundown United and The DownMarket. The food is great, but goes fast. After a little bit of networking, I set my sights on West 6th for a Ludacris concert.
Meanwhile, several members of the domination team are getting lit at the Janrain event at Coyote Ugly. A few make it into Facebook’s event at Container Bar on Rainey where they have special drinks themed after the Presidential candidates. Netspend party, Game of Thrones, Mashable, and SXCreate Labs are just a few of the many others places hit by various dominators throughout the day. Someone even jumps on the large Mr. Robot Ferris Wheel on 4th and Congress. All in all, a good experience with even a rainbow breaking out by the end of the afternoon as the rain made way for a little sunshine.
By this time, it’s time to focus on where to end up for night parties. Domination team scopes out the big parties: Deloitte at Palm, Umbel Disco at ACL, Strokes show at Samsung and a set of surprise Ludacris shows at KungFu and Konkrete Kowboy. No one hits Umbel, although I pass by and snap a shot of the long line. Deloitte, too, has a long line, but dominators are up front and ready to at least grab the 2 complimentary drinks given once doors open. A few head to Samsung with wristbands they won from twitter, although those with badges get in on a separate line.
I head to KungFu, getting there 2 hours before Ludacris arrives, grabbing a seat with a few other dominators right next to the stage. I pop some Scooby snacks to reup my mindframe by the time Luda hits the stage. Two hours later Luda doesn’t just hit the stage, but turns out the small stage and venue (KungFu Saloon) he’s performing at. The performance is short (30 minutes) but he plays several hits and has the crowd energy is turned all the way up. It’s great.
After KungFu, a few chase his second show a block away at Konkrete Kowboy while others hit Samsung which is also nearby. I decide to call it a night and hitch a free ride home on Samsung Rides, which is basically like a Free XL Uber service for Samsung Galaxy phone owners. I need to be up early to nab tickets to the ColleGrove, so I tuck it in early.
This doesn’t stop other dominators, however, as they continue at Samsung and others run into a secret popup show at Roosevelt Room where T-Pain is DJing and Coolio is knocking back drinks hanging with the people. After Roosevelt, the remaining dominators hit the last open bar standing at Pelon’s Bar on Red River for last call to end the night. Day 1 SXSW complete!