By late last week, we knew SXSW keynote speaker Garth Brooks was planning to take the stage for a free show on Auditorium Shores on Saturday. What we didn’t know, however, is that the lucky crowd at the Broken Spoke on Friday night — St. Patrick’s Day, no less — would be treated to a surprise acoustic show as well. Strolling on the stage promptly at 11 p.m. wearing a Lone Star Beer T-Shirt, the country superstar launched into “Friends in Low Places” and went on to dazzle the audience with a 40-minute set that included 17 songs.
Hanson returns to where it all began
Many SXSWers got to see the all-grown-up former kid pop stars at various high-profile shows downtown, but our Statesman video team got the special treat of hearing them dig up an old a cappella tune for a trip down memory lane filmed out at the Krieg Softball Complex, where they had a fateful encounter in 1994 that helped change their career.
Lizzo takes Austin by storm
Lizzo, the 28-year-old rapper and queen of body positivity, ruled the stage at SXSW this year. The Minneapolis rapper was all over the fest, proving why she has long been one of our critic’s faves. Bonus points for her Lone Star ties: Her family moved to Texas from Detroit when she was 10, and elements of the H-Town sound mark her music.
Austin is always swarming with famous people during SXSW, but there are certain celebrities who seem to really, really enjoy their time in our fair city. Here are some folks who seemed to be having the most fun ever over the past two weeks.
What’s the best gift to give an Oscar-winning actress when she’s on the red carpet? A bottle of Franklin Barbecue’s signature espresso sauce, of course. That was the scene last week as Spencer made her way into Austin’s Paramount Theater for the world premiere of her thriller, “Small Town Crime,” and was awarded with the condiment. The gift-giver said he heard she was a fan.
You might not expect to see surfing in downtown Austin, especially when it’s rainy and 40 degrees. But as we all know, during SXSW, anything can happen. Last week on the corner of Congress and Fourth Street pro Flowboarder Sean Silveira tackled the waves on a “pop-up beach” and gave some lessons to “Animal Kingdom” actors Finn Cole (“Peaky Blinders”) and Ben Robson (“Vikings”), who looked like they were having a blast on the immersive installation promoting TNT’s show about a Southern California crime family.
But according to many a Twitter user, Adams is rude.
Today the singer took to Twitter to essentially appear on his own “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” bit, to both thank users for the well wishes (sarcastically?), and put a few #meantweeters on blast with hashtag #TOPMEANTWEETS. He also sarcastically apologized for not better planning his laryngitis and upper respiratory infection.
By now, the news is out— Garth Brooks is indeed playing a free show Saturday night at Auditorium Shores for South By Southwest. He announced the free show at an 11 a.m. press conference Friday at the Austin Convention Center, where he previewed a snippet of his new single “Ask Me How I Know.”
Tickets for the show were available at noon Friday but sold out within minutes.
Brooks’ streaming partner, Amazon Music (he famously refused to put any of his music on any streaming service until October 2016) tweeted out that the show was sold out a mere five minutes after they went on sale.
Woah AUSTIN, @garthbrooks officially sold out in under 5 minutes! Thank you @sxsw and see you tomorrow night!!🤠
What does this mean? Are we to understand the implication of that tweet is that Garth Brooks LITERALLY the epitome of SXSW? Does his ego need to be fenced in? Is this just a shameless attempt to rope the wind of social media?
Maybe, but it also looks like the @SXSW part of that tweet was meant to literally mean “Garth Brooks is at the SXSW Conference” and not meant to equivocate Garth Brooks with the event.
At any rate, tomorrow will come, and it will bring a free Garth Brooks show.
Listen, we’re all entitled to our opinions, no matter how long we’ve lived in Austin. Relative newcomers and lifers alike, however, will appreciate this satirical article headlined “Woman Who Just Moved to Austin Excited to Complain About SXSW for First Time.”
A sample of the South by Southwest vitriol of a fictional Austinite who “moved to Austin less than three weeks ago,” according to Onion-esque site The Hard Times:
“I’ve got a list of popular places and how long it takes to get there, so I can tweet about how much longer than usual it’s taking,” she said. “Then there’s the insulting names for the festival, like, ‘Suck by Suckwest’ or ‘South by Worthless.’ Also, if anyone asks, I’m just going to say the last year it was good was 1996. I figure there’s no way I’ll actually run into someone who was here in 1996 — no way could they afford it now.”
Want to join in the South by Southwest fun but still require your daily nap? There’s a pop-up for that, of course.
Sleepyheads can stop by the Casper Mattress Nap Tour at the northwest corner of Congress Avenue and Fourth Street until 8 p.m. for an eight-minute nap in your own personal pod in an RV, free slippers and Chameleon Cold-Brew coffee, in case your power nap doesn’t leave you feeling ready to conquer South by Southwest.
And since this is Austin, there are two Casper dog beds for your best friend to rest up in while you wait. Enjoy!
Need more advice on where to relax at SXSW? Follow us on Snapchat @austin360snaps for tips.
South By Southwest is in full swing, which means crowds. Crowds everywhere, full of people with panels and parties to attend.
Many of those people forgot (or didn’t know) that Uber and Lyft no longer operate within the Austin city limits. And when it rains all weekend, as it did last weekend, people got upset at the gouged prices and long wait times for Austin alternatives Fasten and RideAustin.
Local ride-hailing service RideAustin posted on Facebook early Sunday morning that its database locked up throughout most of the evening Saturday, and Kirill Evdakov, CEO of Fasten, confirmed that service also had problems, beginning a little after 8 p.m. Saturday. He called SXSW, rainy weather, and glitches with other services simultaneously “a perfect storm” that led to Fasten receiving about 12 times as many ride requests as normal.
However, many people who arrived in town Thursday night for SXSW Interactive were well aware of the ridesharing situation in Austin. The following is from breaking news reporter Katie Hall, who went out to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Thursday night to interview conference-goers.
Britt Deyan, of San Francisco, landed in Austin on Thursday night for SXSW Interactive. Deyan said that SXSW had been good about sharing the fact that Uber and Lyft no longer gave rides in Austin.
“Every communication I was sent about SXSW told me Uber wasn’t here,” Deyan said as she climbed into a taxi.
Alisa Hetrick and Sami Huerta, both of Minneapolis, also grabbed a taxi after landing at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Hetrick and Huerta said they had been told by friends in Austin, who invited them to SXSW, that Uber and Lyft didn’t operate in Austin.
A group of six Mashable employees huddled together outside the airport after landing in Austin, discussing the ride-hailing app RideAustin. Their company had called a car ahead of time to pick them up, they said. A few of the people in the group said they were well aware of the fact that Uber and Lyft left Austin because their website had written about it. One of them, however, was not.
“I didn’t know until just now,” she said, after asking the reporter for ride-hailing app suggestions. “After the tragedy that happened a couple years ago at SXSW, I think they’re asking for another tragedy.” She declined to give her name.
What about you? Have you been having a tough time getting around at SXSW? Let us know in the comments.
Statesman reporters Katie Hall and Elizabeth Findell contributed to this report.
Rachael Ray has never been shy about proclaiming her love for Austin, so as she prepares to return this week to host her 10th annual SXSW Feedback party as well as open her first pop-up boutique, we had to ask: Why don’t you just move here already?
“I think I’m just going to keep making up more and more excuses and more and more things to do there until my husband and I have absolutely no choice but to buy a patch of land,” she said during a phone interview Monday. “I think it’s kind of weird that I’ve been in love with the city for 20 years and I haven’t bought something there yet.”
New this year is Ray’s pop-up boutique, Moxie, located at 1327 S. Congress Ave., which she dreamed up with her friends and stylists Gretta Monahan and Cara Apotheker.
“It was just us girls sitting together saying wouldn’t it be fun if we did a pop-up to see if people like our groove?” Ray said. “We’re trying to show people a smattering of everything we’re interested in in an environment that’s more like a hangout. If they like it, maybe we’ll do it again. That’s our hope.”
Inside the shop, which is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. through March 19, you’ll find a sampling of Ray’s favorite designers, including several Austin-based brands: Alexandra Dieck’s Lexicon of Style, Kristin Ann Rudge’s Kar-bn and Molly Salvi’s Squash Blossom Vintage. It’s decorated with furniture from Ray’s newly launched furniture line and also features a space to play vinyl records. There’s also a bar where cocktails will be served from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and brunch cocktails will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“Rachael is a person who wants everything to be family, friends, and feel like home,” said Monahan, who flew in Friday to oversee the boutique’s opening. “This is super personal for her.”
Ray said she’ll head to the store, which also features a water bowl by the door for her four-legged visitors, as soon as she lands in Austin on Wednesday.
“I’ve brought my dog (to SXSW) every year,” Ray said. “She’s 12 years old and she’s been going there since she was 2. She’s welcome in Austin, and that makes me feel happy.”
Ray will also host her 10th annual Feedback event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Stubb’s. She said it’s amazing that something that started as a small party has become one of the highlights of SXSW.
“Ten years ago I was petrified. I was like, ‘People are going to throw stuff at me,'” she said about the first Feedback. “They’re gonna be like, ‘What is this cook girl doing down here?’ But I was like, you know what? I love this town. I love music. I write good food. I’m going to give it a shot. We got a couple of small sponsors and we threw our first party and people came and they were like, ‘Wow, this is really good. These bands are pretty cool. This is really fun.'”
This year’s lineup includes Weezer, Action Bronson, De La Soul, Margo Price, Bob Schneider and The Cringe, led by Ray’s husband, John Cusimano.
“We’ve been doing this so long you can actually see an arc of some of the bands,” she said. “A lot of bands have played more than once, but they started on smaller stages. It’s just amazing.”
As for this year’s menu theme? Queso everything, Ray says, laughing. Expect two-beer slow-cooked barbecue brisket over tater tots topped with queso, grilled corn dunked in queso and nachos with queso topped with crumbled chorizo and pico de gallo.
“I worked on this queso so hard. I bet it was tested 55 times,” Ray said. “I am so proud of this queso. … It’s going to taste like Rotel and Velveeta, but upping the game a bit. Honestly if I dipped my arm in this queso I would take a big bite.”
In addition to spending time at the boutique and hosting Feedback, Ray said her Austin itinerary will include stops at Grizzeldas, Wu Chow, Emmer & Rye and Ramen Tatsu-Ya, among other favorites.
“Austin epitomizes everything I love about being an American. It really celebrates the individual, it celebrates artists. It’s conducive to conversation,” she said. “It was green before it was cool to be green. It’s a very loving, social place. I just love being there.”
And if the pop-up shop is a success and turns into something more substantial, Ray said, it could finally give her the excuse she’s been needing to do some real estate shopping in Austin.
“If Moxie does well and is something that’s sustainable maybe that’ll be one of the catalysts for that,” she said. “If I had a reason to go that was business related several times a year, wouldn’t it make sense to have a place there?”