Twenty years ago, South by Southwest was a tiny twister, a newborn wisp wriggling its way off the ground on the energy of upstarts and also-rans. These days, the massive nine-day festival is more like a cross-continental cyclone, whisking the world’s most renowned musicians and moviemakers away to Austin. As thousands upon thousands of artists, fans, and industry types descend on the city, the rest of the world stands still: stripped of its artisans, there’s nothing to do but wait and see who will return Sultan of the storm.
Like cross-eyed cousin the CMJ Music Marathon, this is a make-it-or-break-it event, a gathering where some dreams are born and others are broken. Facing the wind’s fury, the best pluck down intact, like pristine porcelain, while the worst fall with the fury of cars being crushed.
This week, PopMatters braves the wind as well, cataloging the best movies and music to emerge from the mayhem. Our plates are positively packed with movie premieres, music showcases, invitation-only parties, red-rope soirées, and backyard BBQs, but somewhere in there we’ll find time to issue daily updates from the field.
Speaking of which, what say we get to it culture vultures? After all, we’ve got nine crazy days to get through, and then we crown us a king.
— Andrew Phillips