Life and Arts reporters reflect on best SXSW content

Angela Lim, Sage Dunlap, Zoe Tzanis, Life and Arts Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article was first appeared in the March 22, 2022 flipbook.

Sage Dunlap, General Reporter

On the first night of music performances, I arrived at Cheer Up Charlie’s with only my SXSW badge and a Summer Moon receipt in hand, shaking with excitement — and an excess of caffeine —- at the thought of seeing my favorite band live. 

This Magdelena Bay experience included arriving three hours before the set, gripping the barricade all night long and fending off anyone trying to push further to the front out, which induced two mini tiffs with aggressive audience members. When 11pm came around, Magdalena Bay set up their equipment on stage as excitement overtook the entire crowd, caging in a gutteral shriek with a smile. The show was more than fantastic and was the perfect kick-off to the festival.

Words of warning to future South by Southwest attendees: do not drive to the festival. Even after the festival banners were removed, the sight of a parking garage still induces a spine-tingling wince. However, despite 15 parking garage receipts, one door scratch and a group of women entering my car thinking it was their UBER ride at 2am, SXSW was a fantastic experience.

Zoe Tzanis, Life & Arts Editor 

SXSW was a whirlwind — movies, comedy, interviews, edits, music and repeat. 

What brought this often overwhelming festival home was the opportunity to dive head first into some of the most powerful documentary and narrative features, including the fabulous “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down” and heart-wrenching “Bad Axe.” 

While “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down” followed the 10-year journey of former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Gifford, who was shot in the brain in 2011, “Bad Axe” chronicled the experience of the Siev family as they managed to keep their business afloat during the pandemic, all the while fending of racism and bigotry in their small, conservative town. Both were tearjerkers worthy of the utmost praise.  

After bawling, learning and growing, SXSW’s comedy festival offered the heartiest of laughs. Late night standup from comics Dulcé Sloan and Shane Torres rounded out the experience, brightening well-worn spirits. 

Finally, having the opportunity to rock-out with Eurovision contestant Katherine Duska and probe Jeff Malmberg, the director of the newest Disney+ documentary “Mickey: the Story of a Mouse,” with the strangest of Mickey Mouse questions put the cherry on top. 

SXSW was both a whirlwind and an experience chock full of loads and loads of fun. 

Angela Lim, Senior Reporter

Going through the official SXSW Spotify playlist of over a thousand songs, shortlisting it to 157 and then, very reluctantly, narrowing them down to just 11 acts was a challenge. After reporting about music for a week, adjectives to describe it ran out, telling Sarah Kinsley her song “The King” sounded “round,” which she fortunately agreed with.

Speaking to a diverse range of musicians — from South Korean collective Balming Tiger to Floridian quintet flipturn and New York City-based band LAUNDRY DAY — was extremely fulfilling. Their passion for their craft overflowed, connecting with their audience regardless of language or genre.

Other memorable moments included shouting, “I love you, you are beautiful and you can do anything,” with a full Austin Convention Center crowd during Lizzo’s keynote session and seeing So!YoON!’s charismatic performance by chance at 3TEN ACL Live’s JADED showcase.

Ultimately, nothing will ever quantify how enjoyable it was to hear the complete and thrilling sound of live music again. Despite hiding some gems in their 21+ venues, SXSW boasted an incredible lineup overall. Music truly possesses the power to bring everyone together.