This year’s festival brought celebrities, hopeful artists, tech companies, and Brooklynites to the streets of our beloved city. Though the eleven days have come and gone, they will live on in our hearts and minds. These are ten of the moments that will define SXSW 2015 in our memories (at least until the ACL line up is released).
Will we actually remember Meerkat? That remains to be seen. But no single product has similarly dominated the conversation at the fest since Twitter’s breakout at SXSW Interactive in 2007, so the San Francisco-based app may be on to something. Julia Louis-Dreyfus even used the app to live stream her “Veep” panel, or so she said.
9. Miley’s surprise appearance
The former “Hannah Montana” joined her friend and frequent collaborator Mike Will Made-It at Fader Fort on Thursday night, performing her song “23” and party anthem “We Can’t Stop.” She also took time to spray the crowd with a water gun and strike her signature tongue-out pose.
8. Auditorium Shores Latin showcase cancellation
Thanks to SXSWet, fans left Auditorium Shores disappointed on Saturday. The SXAméricas all-Latino showcase was cancelled due to standing water at the venue. Opening act the BoDeans arranged a make-up show at Maggie Mae’s, but Compass and headliner Intocable were unable to reschedule.
7. The Manbun
Okay, I’m cheating with the picture here. Hozier didn’t attend SXSW (but that would’ve been cool), and not a single manbun qualified for our Fashion Festies gallery. But if you attended any event – nay – left your house during the eleven days of SXSW, you witnessed a manbun or four.
6. The Breakfast Club 30-year anniversary
Only two of the film’s stars were able to attend the screening of the newly-restored film at the Paramount Theatre, but badgeholders still packed the place for the preceeding conversation with Ally Sheedy and Molly Ringwald.
5. J. Cole’s “Dreamville Takeover”
And take over he did. Rumored surprises Kanye and Drake were no-shows for the rising star’s showcase at ACL Live, but the crowd that had lined up at 3 p.m. didn’t seem to mind. Cole, along with G-Eazy, Redman, and a few newer names, put on an energetic show that had the audience in a craze. The L.A. native paused a few times during his 45-minute set to plug his summer concert at the Austin360 Ampitheater, where he said he’ll play his album “Forest Hills Drive” in its entirety.
4. Discovering new artists
This isn’t unique to the past week, but the best part of every year is finding that new band before anyone else. This year, our staff picked out Raury, twin sister duo Ibeyi, and Massachusetts rock band Speedy Ortiz as just a few of the artists to watch.
3. Jimmy Kimmel’s return
ABC’s late night host returned to SXSW for the second year in a row for a week of live broadcasts. Kimmel had people talking with his ad for Austin business Vulcan Video, a musical tribute to Austin with Willie Nelson, and a ‘Pot Quiz’ segment featuring festivalgoers who were presumably under the influence.
2. A permanent memorial for the 2014 crash victims
The ghost bike representing the four lives lost during last year’s tragic crash was removed, leaving many worried that the incident would be forgotten. But on the final day of SXSW, local bicycle safety advocates revealed a more permanent memorial: a white obelisk on the northeast corner of 10th and Red River. Mounted on the commemorative figure is a plaque naming each of the four victims.
1. A return to SXSW roots
With the city taking measures to keep parties smaller, lines shorter, and people sober, SXSW took on a calmer demeanor in 2015. The star power of past years also seemed to fade a little this time around, somehow making the festival even more endearing. SXSW is an opportunity for the emerging, the eclectic, and even the struggling to be discovered by a crowd that wants to give them a chance, and the dialing-down of this year’s events returned the festival to its former, raw glory.