ay 9, the final day of SXSW. I’ve averaged 8.5 miles of walking for the past 8 days, not even including the hours upon hours of standing, jumping, half running/trotting, biking, and at one point, climbing. And even though my body feels as sturdy as wet cardboard, I’m a SXSW veteran and have ate well/nutriotious enough, drank enough non-alcoholic hydration, squeezed out enough shut eye, and drank enough caffeine to finish strong on this final day.
The sessions have been sensational:
• Dean Baquet Editor of the New York Times
• Mark Cuban on disruption
• Joe Biden on cancer cures
• Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Ron Howard for National Geographic
• Senator Corey Booker call to civic engagement
• Buzz Aldrin on sending humans to Mars
• Garth Brooks on the saving the art of songwriting
The Day Parties, Peerless:
• Canada House at Sidebar
• New York Times the Belmont
• Media Temple at Rustic Tap
• Betches/CapGenius at Concrete Cowyboy
• MDC and iHeartMedia at the W Hotel Rooftop
• WeWork Recharge Lounge
The Night Events, Everything:
• WuTang Clan
• Aloe Blacc
• Robert Glasper featuring Bilal
• Talib Kweli unplugged
• LiL Wayne
• Jermaine Dupri
• DJ Jazzy Jeff
• Third Eye Blind
• Wyclef and Prince’s band The Revolution
• Marian Hill
There were still countless sessions and shows I missed out on, though very few the Domination Team as a whole missed. The SXSW experience has been truly epic, but alas, all things come to an end… AFTER today, that is, because there’s one last day of SXSW left!
That said, I have never been strong enough (or foolish enough, considering my sx bed time hours) to hit one of the best showcases of SXSW, the Rachel Ray Feedback party. This event goes from 10am – 6pm, and includes some of the best food, drink, and shows (Weezer headlining this year) the festival has to offer, all for free with an RSVP. There’s one catch, however, that gets me every year: the line pre-sunrise at 5am. Sure, you can probably arrive before 8am and still get in eventually, but considering how I’m not out of bed most SX days until 10am, let alone out of the house, Rachel Ray Feedback party may never be for me. There are usually a few ambitious Domination Team early risers that make it in, however, this year had many distracted by a surprise morning necessity…
An email goes out from SXSW Saturday morning that two major showcases will now require wristbands for entry that can be picked up at the Austin Convention Center starting at noon. Mass Apeals showcase “Make Trap Great Again” at Stubb’s and SXSW’s public show at Auditorium Shores with Garth Brooks are the events in question. Those not choosing to sleep through the morning rush to get one or the other of these wristbands, which sell out by 230pm.
By early afternoon, myself and most of the Domination Team (#domteam) are back in action attending daytime music shows, conference sessions, and promotional events. Rapper Souljia Boy was spotted at Cedar Street handing out “free” $150 headphones (with payment of shipping/handling, so not free) that the #domteam’s tech expert described as not worth the $15 in shipping and handling.
For sessions, a criminal justice panel featuring Snoop Dog covered topics ranging from mental wellness, police brutality, and race relations. Fellow rapper T.I. was featured in a fireside chat and audience Q&A where he answered questions about how he can influence rappers to be better by just connecting with them, being present, and being engaged with them personally and professionally as a veteran artist.
Soulja Boy handing out headphones at Cedar Street. #domteam gadget expert Paul inspected headphones and determined the free “$150 valued” headphones for paying $15 Shipping and Handling were cheap and not worth $15 , let alone $150.
Others of the #domteam found the open bar parties of the day at the British Music house at Latitude 30 and Chive TV party at the Westin hotel.
A few of the #domteam ventured a few miles outside of the downtown epicenter of SXSW to hit Urban Outfitter’s Space 24 venue sponsored by Fujifilm. The event featured a music showcase with R&B/HipHop band The Internet headlining. The show was so good, not only was the event at capacity, but people could be seen packed into the upper floors of nearby parking garage watching/listening to the show below.
Finally, some of the #domteam are DJs playing official and unofficial SXSW events. Several of them happen to be supporting each other at a DJ event for the final day of SXSW. #domteamlove
I start my day late, knowing I have just one goal for the night: The Roots show sponsored by Bud Light at the 800 Congress avenue event space. This venue barely has a capacity of 600, which, after the band, special guests, staff, and the guest list probably leaves 350-400 spaces for SXSW badge holders and those with artist wristbands.
This number is a problem when you consider thousands will be trying to get into this show! I plan out my day and evening accordingly, and after a late lunch at the rooftop sushi bar Ra and some time at the Camel House drinking and writing, I head to jump in line at the Roots near 6:00pm. The line for The Roots show is already long, 80 people in front of me with nearly 3 hours before doors open. I plop down in line, take a seat, and begin making friends of my neighbors while continuing to do some writing work. Meanwhile, a handful of the #domteam make their way into the Garth Brooks show, from right up front to backstage. Brooks doesn’t disappoint and his show goes down as one of the largest shows ever played on Auditorium Shores for SXSW.
A small number of the #domteam make it into the elusive Fader Fort for Saturday as well. They catch closing acts by BJ the Chicago Kid, Youn Ma, and surprise closing shows from Mase and 2 Chainz!
At close to 9pm, doors open for The Roots show and I’m quickly inside! I’m not alone, however, as many of the #domteam find their way in as well, with or without a badge or place in line. The long in length but short in width, rectangular venue is awkwardly setup with the stage against the wall in the middle of the venue with the sound booth directly opposite it on the other wall. This leaves a very shallow crowd of 7 or less deep across the entire front of the stage, with the rest of the audience flaring out on either side of the stage. Up to 4 alcoholic drinks are provided person, but being a Bud Light sponsored event, Bud Light and bottles of water on the only beverages available in the entire house.
I grab a beer and a bottle of water, then quickly swim my way to about 3 people deep of the front stage. The show opens ups with a few smaller acts, like Frinship, before the entire band of The Roots takes the stage. Excuses me, blesses the stage! The amazing thing about The Roots show at SXSW (and this is their second year doing the show), is the amazing number and level of special guests they bring to perform their songs with The Roots as their band, which this year included:
• Rae Sremmurd
• Nick Grant
• Cyhia the Prince
• De La Soul
• Shakey Graves
• And closed out by Method Man and Redman
The show was like every night so far at SXSW packed into one single, continuos show! The music quality overall was simply amazing from the special guest artists being well prepared for their performance to the band playing any and every song their guests threw out. The Roots band itself took time between guests to do their own songs, finesse a few jam sessions, and even do a Chuck Berry tribute lead by their shredder lead guitarist. The show went on for 2 and a half hours, with each artist playing a few of their hits or medley mashups before rotating out. It was worth every 180 minutes of sitting on the unforgiving concrete floor in line outside.
As with any night, there’s more than a single headliner. Although Garth Brooks ended earlier (10pm or so), the Mass Appeal show at Stubb’s was on until 2am and many other lesser headliners going for buzz were still out there to be discovered. A few incredibly determined #domteam go-getters rushed from The Roots concert after it ended to Stubb’s (a half mile jaunt with a sharp hill half the way) and managed to finesse their way in even at the late hour, to catch headlining rapper Gucci Mane and Meek Mill with others of the #domteam already there. The Stubb’s show had many other notable rappers such as Meek Mill, LiL Uzi Vert, Ty Dolla Sign, OT Geasis, Kyle, Cardi B and more.
I ended the night passing by Stubb’s and catching HarHar Superstar, a soft rock yet upbeat band that puts on a zany yet entertaining show. I then bounced over to Empire Control Room to catch the closing headline set of Denzel Curry, just to say I saw at least one show of Trap music to keep some street cred.
Thus ended, the final day of SXSW, a final headlining day that ended up to its promise. SXSW 2017 was one of the best experiences and adventures of my life, and yes I do say that every year, and every my own experience just gets better and better. However, experiences are always better shared, and I give a huge nod and show of love for The Domination Team (#domteam) who truly dominated SXSW, collectively catching and reporting on nearly every major (and many not so major) events of SXSW. They are not just my SXSW partners, colleagues, associates, or even friends…. They are family!