Ever since oh, age 28, it’s always the same for me.

Two weeks before SXSW: “You guys, I am so over South By.”

Week of SXSW: “I’ve RSVP’d here and here and here and here and here and HERE!!!”


We locals like to be smug, but when it comes right down to it, the SX bug is tough to shake once you’ve been bit. Yes, the marketing is rid-ic-ulous. Yes, your soul dies a bit each time you agree to don a promotional Kleenex™ fanny pack in exchange for free Perez party tickets or whatever. And yes, there’s always that inevitable day when you, my whimsical music lover you, are strolling from party to party in a kicky straw hat minding your own business, when either the temperature drops or the heavens open (because it is, after all, spring in Austin) and you find yourself drenched/freezing underneath the Yahoo! Soundz! tent between acts, sobbing to yourself, “I w-w-want to be at home with mah kittyyyyy!

They’re all occupational SX hazards, and this year — a more chill SX for me personally, since I don’t have any freelance gigs lined up — I thought, ok. You know what? I think I’ll just sit this one out. I’m in the home stretch of yoga teacher training, I’ve got a silks show coming up, and I’m just going to relax! Amy will bring me back all her fun little SX stories. I’ll watch from the sidelines. There will be no wristbands. Or spreadsheets.

And then…

I was walking on the east side yesterday, visiting some friends at Giant Noise. They were having a cute little office party, so I popped in for a hot second, and when I left, I promise you I meant to walk straight back to my car and drive home.

But instead, I strolled around a bit.

Guys, what is it about the east side and SX?

I know I’m teetering on the very edge of growing out of it, but that pre-SX Music energy on the east side, when signs are being hoisted up and bands are loading in and neon-clad hipsters are skipping around still makes me giddy. Is it nostalgia? Anticipation? Appreciation of the fact that folks so brazenly day drink on this week?

It’s like we, everyone who participates in SX, all buckles down in this interesting cultural/futurist/celebrity nexus for a week, and as Austinites, we play hostess. And you know what? Even though I don’t mean to, I guess I still kind of get a rush from all that. Our little Austin! Blows my mind every time.

At some point, a truck pulled up next to me on Waller. An older guy leaned out his car window and asked, “hey girl. Where you from?”

“Here,” I answered. “I’m from here.”

Images via me on Instagram, Amy on Instagram, and my dear friend Christa on Instagram

  • http://twitter.com/kjsouthernbelle Katie

    OMG, I love SX or this year I seem to love it more than ever. I can’t wait to get out with my camera and do some serious people watching/pic snapping. Plus I get to stroll around at my own pace in the middle of the street and see things I’m moving to fast to see any other time of the year.

    I do the same as you right before it hits…oh, I don’t want to deal with the traffic, blah, blah. Then the energy gets here and I’m itching to get out in it. It’s so fun. Hope you enjoy yourself!

  • Robert March

    My birthday lands around fest time, so when I was still living in Austin “the festival that shall not be named” always amounted to me finding a showcase I like and setting up shop there for one night and getting incredibly hammered. Sometimes it was even an Austin showcase of my favorite Austinites! (Momo’s with Guy, Carolyn, and Hot Club of Cowtown, I’m looking at you…) But I was never into IT, never RSVPd anywhere, never saw Kanye at Fader Fort, never went to the after hours drinking parties, etc. And in the three years since I’ve left, I’ve never missed South By or Austin so much as I do right now.

    It was that last line! I’m so jealous of that last line!!

    You rock, Tolly. Go kick ass for both of us!

  • http://www.amyrenepowell.blogspot.com/ Amy

    I’m actually finally biting the bullet & going this year. Grew up in New Braunfels and currently live in Bryan, so I’ve never HAD to go & could always just enjoy Austin on my own time, but this year a friend insisted. So we’re braving it. I’m kind of excited :)

  • http://www.bellavogue.com/ Chelsea

    Oh my goodness, I am so jealous, even if you aren’t actively participating in SXSW, the energy in the city is so much fun. Great photos!

  • Valerie Price

    These are great photos! I just moved to Austin, so it’s really nice to read up on what SXSW is like for Austin locals!

  • kathlyne

    Yes, I have learned that locals call it simply South By. And I’m avoiding the crowds like the plague. I feel like an old fogie, but I really would rather sit at home with my kitteh.