SXSW: A Musical Scavenger Hunt
It all started with a message via the SxSW app: John F said you would be at SXSW… I’m in town ’til tomorrow and would love to catch up. That’s the funny thing about this interactive/film/music festival: you never know who you’re going to run into and there’s always a surprise just waiting for you ’round the corner.
He was a college friend; hadn’t seen him since graduation day eight years ago… and yet suddenly I was embarking on a scavenger hunt of sorts. It unfolded like this:
Each day, SxSW-goers obsess over a singular event; as it happens, Jay-Z’s concert was Monday’s hot topic. Everybody was buzzing about it; whispers crept through panel after panel. Who could focus on invisible walls and augmented reality when Jay-Z was coming to town? Apparently tickets were selling for a pretty penny, too… rumor had it that four went for the price of a pair of Prada’s Spring Runway kicks. Even my NM-counterpart @NeimanMarcus won a ticket through American Express’ promotion. Every geek, nerd, developer and SM specialist seemed to be going. The level of texting reached a fever-pitch. And then my phone buzzed:
Naturally college friend runs a gaming-app company. And so the scavenger hunt began: how quickly could I make it to the southwest corner of 2nd and Lavaca before someone discovered the coveted ticket and took it for their own? The odds were not to my advantage. I rushed from our panelist brainstorm at the Driskill, dodging street buskers, portable charging stations and human hotspots with an agility that only a girl experienced with navigating our Shoe Sale could master, to the secret tree pictured above.
I made it, with just moments to spare. I grappled at the sign, eager to come across the ticket. Are you on South-By scavenger hunt or something? I looked at the guy standing next to the tree; from the likes of it, it seemed that he had been there for quite some time. Jay-Z ticket, I said with a smile. I could hear him mentally slapping his brow. The ticket was mine.
Jay-Z performing at American Express’ Austin City Limits Live
Jay-Z was an experience in itself. Imagine a room full of backpack-laden, laptop-toting… well, for lack of a better word, nerds. Even I confess that I was one of them. And although we were rich with enthusiasm (knowing every word to every song), no one had rhythm and no one could dance. At one point, the celebrated artist had to guide us in raising our left arm and swaying to the beat. Every visible plug was stuffed with iPhone chargers (the tech world boasts an admirable level of trust), the venue’s hallway was lined with fellows rapidly typing on their laptops. Illuminated iPhones reflected off the bespectacled crowd. There was a controlled calm punctuated by bursts of enthusiasm, particularly when New York State of Mind pulsed through the space. And then, for just a moment, we had a brush with collective cool – even if we still couldn’t dance.
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