Keep Austin Weird: 8 strange events to check out at SXSW this year

Daniel Young

Weird is a commodity in Austin. With more out-of-towners and corporations moving in everyday, it might feel like the mission to Keep Austin Weird has failed.

Never fear: South by Southwest starts next week, and though they’ve got no shortage of corporately-sponsored events, there are plenty of performances geared toward restoring your faith in a brighter, weirder future for Austin.

Sloppy Jane

March 14 at Hotel Vegas (7-7:30 p.m.), March 17 at Cheer Up Charlie’s (8:50 to 9:20 p.m.)

When they’re not rolling around on the ground, the members of Sloppy Jane have been known to puke blue dye onto themselves while belting out hypnotic songs like “Glitterspit.” If you’ve been searching for an 8-11 piece, an all-woman punk band with grimy instrumentals, grungy vocals, and naked lead-singers performing songs about bloody noses out of trash cans, then Sloppy Jane is the group for you.


March 15 at The Paramount Theatre (7-8:13 p.m.)

The phrase, “Daryl Hannah is making her directorial debut at SXSW with an experimental western, starring Willie Nelson and Neil Young,” reads more like a Mad-Lib than a blurb from a festival schedule. Nonetheless, the “Kill Bill” actress’ “Paradox” is a very real — and likely very strange — movie. Few details are known about the plot, except that it follows a band of outlaws through a fluid timeline as they play music, carry out heists, and “(mine) the detritus of past civilizations.”

Provocative Adult Coloring Books

March 13 at Austin Convention Center Room 5ABC (2-3:00 p.m.)

Sally Eckhoff and Andrea Baker are a pair of authors who turned their non-fiction books, “F*CK ART (LET’S DANCE)” and “FAMOUS RAPES,” into coloring books. Go to the event, and you’ll hear them discuss their writing process and read excerpts.

A Colossal Wave! By Marshmallow Laser Feast

March 9–15 at The Austin Convention Center (varying times)

In this multi-location, mixed reality art installation, you’ll have the chance to explore cause-and-effect and the breadth of humanity’s impact on the world firsthand through virtual reality. If an experience that’ll have you singing to generate 3D art and dropping bowling balls onto gongs from great heights, all while wearing VR goggles, isn’t weird, then what is?

The Evolution of Testicles

March 13–15 at JW Marriott Salon 5-6 (11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)

Narrated by Chris O’Dowd (Kristen Wiig’s love interest in the hit comedy “Bridesmaids”), this VR experience will have you journeying through man’s evolution and learning about men’s health in a big, testicle-shaped hot air balloon. Enough said.


March 16 at The Hideout (8-8:40 p.m.)

Quentin and Hilary Thomas-Oliver play something between metal and classical music, which sounds as if it’s the soundtrack for a non-existent “Mad Max” movie. Also, they play with a 12-foot tall drumming robot.

Narcissister Organ Player

March 9 at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar (6-7:31 p.m.) , March 12 at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz (11:30 a.m. – 1:01 p.m.), March 14 at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz (1:30 p.m. – 3:01 p.m.)

Animation, performance art, and documentaries all clash together in this film by and about Narcissister, a masked performer. Seekers of the weird might flock to this one, as it uses an elaborately-choreographed play wherein a woman eats herself and explores her puppet-filled organs to examine the artist’s relationship with her recently deceased mother.

The Future of Secrets

March 10 at The Fairmont (9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.)

At this event, participants are asked to type their deepest secrets into computers, which will then send them randomly and anonymously to receipt printers elsewhere in the room. The exhibitors are hoping the event will get participants to think twice about how many personal details they publish online.