It had been a ridiculously long work day for me at SXSW. A day that consisted of 8 hours of festival PA work followed by 9 hours of serving curry to festival attendees on Rainey St. All I could think about was getting out of work and hopefully catching a late night set of one of my favorite bands at the moment, Trust. They were supposed to play an Arts & Crafts showcase at Black Swan, which is located near the intersection of 7th and Red River St.
The internet has been blowing up for the past 12 hours about a tragic incident that happened last night on that exact same district. Red River St. is famously known for hosting some of Austin’s most iconic music venues. Stubb’s, the Mohawk, and formerly Emo’s, have all been places that make both Austinites and visitors feel right at home. Anyone who is anyone in the music industry has played a show there. Obviously this is a HUGE hot spot during SXSW.
I won’t reiterate the facts about the event, but a quick Google search will lead you to some great reports by actual journalists. I guess if you want though you can just check out this interactive Buzzfeed article. I’m writing this piece in response to the massive amount of text messages I received from family, friends and colleagues asking me if I was “ok.” Although I’m sure most of them are just wondering if I wasn’t injured or even present (which thankfully I wasn’t)… I feel like the question goes even deeper. Are we all really ‘okay’? I mean… This is really fucked up. What level of lunacy does a person need to reach to drive through a barricaded street full of people and then attempt to flee? How much alcohol did that person consume and who the hell gave it to him? Was it Fader? Spotify House? Did he buy it himself?
SXSW is fun, yes. It’s one of the most beautiful times of the year because it foreshadows what the second and third quarter of the year are going to look like. So much tech. So many new films and artists. So many new apps and campaigns. So much wow. But how much is too much? When I was in the shower this morning, I reflected on the fact that I was busy at work when this all happened. Thank goodness I was working and not partying. Thank the universe that I was safe. Thank baby jesus I didn’t try to walk on Red River St. to get to the Trust show at 1:00 am, around the time when it all happened.
To all my friends, family and colleagues who have reached out to show their loving concern and support: THANK YOU. I am safe. I am alive and I am well. Part of me wonders how much this will affect SXSW in the future. Nothing like this has ever really happened. The mood feels dense and nobody really knows if the first big night of the Music segment of the festival will continue to go on as planned. How safe is it to continue to distribute free alcohol to so many people? Should we continue to party and get drunk knowing that so many people are in pain right now?
If you plan on getting #SXSWasted make sure you don’t do something stupid. Take a goddamn Uber and save us some tragedy.