Tag Archives: free stuff at SXSW

Angry Scotsmen at the Hype Hotel

The Hype Hotel is open and some Scottish dudes are angry

3-19-2016

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Magnificent tower of marketing power

 

It’s Saturday night at the Hype Hotel on the last day of SXSW. A whiny guy in a Plexiglas box has started to sing but the Scotsman is still angry. He’s gonna stay that way. But he has good reason.

The Hype Hotel is a staple of the SXSW experience. This year it’s at the fashionable new-ish venue called “Fair Market.” Fair Market is a warehouse venue on the East Side in a neighborhood where lately upscale markets, tech start-ups, and cat cafes have been emerging from the cracked sidewalks. It’s very in right now, probably.

The Hype Hotel is sort-of open to the public. There was an RSVP, done online, and pick up your wristband. So like many things at SXSW, capacity determines whether you get in. But, being a few blocks from the main SXSW downtown activities, it’s not as crowded as it could be.

Guests in the GA line are given a couple drink tickets. A raucous crowd is dancing to a band and a lightshow. It’s a good setup here. Nice venue.

The lines are long for mixed drinks. Outside is a grassy fenced in area. Many people are smoking out here. Smoking is still very cool apparently. They huddle in crowds and fight the wind to light the brand of cigarette they feel most affiliated with.

Crowds like this do have a tendency to inspire conversation. People bum a cig and join a discussion of geopolitics in an ever-connected era. Politely are discussing the political state of host-country America on a terrifyingly-amplified world stage. Smoking brings people together.

There is a small beach in the corner. Sandals wine is here and right on brand. Their breezy beachy brand message is reinforced with a set of lawn chairs and a make-your-own flip flops booth (sometimes awkwardly referred to as “thongs”). The key to the free flip flops is sharing images through social media. An excellent gift for those who are paranoid about the shower sanitation in whatever hotel/hostel/craigslist posting you are staying at.

Drink tickets can also be used on Sandals wine. Their line is much shorter.

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Sandals Wine setup included sand

There is a band in a box. The main stage is inside, but in this outdoor area, a Plexiglas box has been set up with all the necessary equipment for a small, contained performance. A band is currently setting up to play.

Some Scottish people are here as well. They are milling about with their mixed drinks and reminiscing on their SXSW experiences. They are mostly finished with their SXSW music experience, and a pretty happy with the shows they put on or were part of. They are not happy the show that is happening now.

The man in the box started on a bad note. For some inexplicable reason, he chose to precede his performance with a rant about how much he hates this city and the people here.  He could be joking, a dry humor, but there are no real indicators of that. It’s all rather left field really.

The Scots do not take kindly to this unkindness. They talk about how this city “has been nothing but nice” and how you can dislike a government or policies but you can’t just go and hate a people. Especially when you are a guest. Their language is much more charming than this.

The music is astonishingly mediocre. Continual references to “the blood in his veins” or whatever. Some songs about waking up and drinking, but the tone is all sad and slow. Like the juxtaposition of party lifestyle and slow song is supposed to imply deepness.

It’s like, if you’re gonna roll hard and swagger like that, right from the get go, you got to be good, or funny, or better than this guy, at least.  There may be some way to pull of the whole “I hate you all, but I want you to be sensitive to my sensitive music fully of my personal feelings.” If there is, he didn’t pull it off.

There is talk of a rebellion. The Scottish band says they could do a better job than this fellow. Under the flag of the Hype Hotel we must rise up and stamp out this mediocrity. If ever a man “needed a kicking” it was this man.

So the (short) set is spent complaining about this dude. Creative phrasings for how to deal with his rudeness and lameness. All dry wit, followed by base insults. Creative gestures from these Scottish jesters. Using up the last of the drink tickets. The sky is clear for now, but rain is coming. Perhaps the rains gods have come to render judgment. But that will be later.

The set ends and the dude takes time to, once again, state that he  hates this city and the people here. The crowd isn’t paying much attention. Most people are inside listening to the other band, who doubtless has a better attitude.

But the Scots are listening. They hear him. They will meet with him again they say, some day, in some other place. They will teach him the importance of being civil. They phrase this much more directly.

It’s a good night though. A delightful evening standing in the grass with strangers talking politics and laughing at a rude man in a plastic box. Free drinks. The Hype Hotel lives up to it.

 

 

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Dramatic Rain at SXSW 2016

“The rain gods have spoken. Your band sucks.” -an unknown prophet

 

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StubHub is psychic

 

It’s Friday during the music section of SXSW.  People are here to party. Dirty 6th is in full rush hour with people at a standstill, waiting on the crowd to move forward. But it won’t. They are all stuck there forever. And ever.

Then the rumors start. The rain. The rain is coming. It’s the end of the world as we know it. We are not fine.

In Texas, there isn’t much rain. When there is rain, it does have a tendency turn into immediate thunderstorms with added flash flooding. But that’s not the worst. The drivers are the worst. People here are unfamiliar with how to drive in rain. They have yet to fully comprehend that speeding up won’t make your car into a boat.

Therefore, any announcement of rain can lead to chaos. In the case, there are added predictions of hail. People are told to see shelter in the Convention Center. Stub Hub is handing out Ponchos in the streets by their concert venue on Rainy. Branded ponchos are some next level advertising. Positive brand associations. Somebody on the marketing team really planned for all circumstances, or is a psychic.

Then begins a mass migration. Every car is headed out of town all at once.  Drunkenly they stumble to vehicles and onto the roads to weave their way home. Soon the sound of sirens follow. Because a bunch of possibly inebriated people leaving town all at once during a thunderstorm was never a bright idea.

Between the sirens and the thunder the air has a certain vibrancy. The people that remain are just a little brighter. They are the adventurers. They are the once who came to dance in the mud. Or they are the ones too drunk to remember where their car was. Regardless they stand in the streets together.

The storm rolls on. People seek refuge. They cover their heads with pieces of paper. They check their phones. They go to whatever venue is closest and are forced to appreciate whatever music is there.

The McDonalds house is closed. No food there. The music must cease, at least until the weather forecast turns better. Whoever was supposed to play there must feel a particular shame. Because the rain gods have spoken. And their band sucks.

Eventually the storm passes. There was never any hail. Texans sometimes overreact to rain.

 

 

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Mr. Robot at SXSW 2016

A SXSW carnival in downtown Austin from television series Mr. Robot

 

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The carnival is fun, the sociopolitical comedy is serious, the T-shirts are free

 

The Ferris Wheel looms in the heart of downtown Austin. The festive glow of a parking-lot carnival adds a unique ambiance to the crowded streets.  A grinning mask looms over it all with a sign that says “Mr. Robot.”

Mr. Robot is a television show. It’s about a mentally unstable man who looks behind the curtain of society to see that corporations control us all. He fights the power with technology, hacking skills, and the help of other people that may or may not exist.  The important thing is the continued revelation that corporations are corrupted and all powerful must be defied. The show made its world premiere at SXSW 2015

SXSW is a crazy mess of corporate showmanship. A beautiful collision of capitalism and performance art (brought to you by our modern Medici’s according to several of last year’s SXSW panels.) Things that sound like silly exaggerated jokes take place in the streets of this moderate metro area.

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This is usually just a parking lot

In this particular case, there is a carnival. The network has constructed a grand carnival to promote this television show. It’s a grand spectacle. Today, it is open to the public. Later the gates will be closed to all those not in possession of badges.

It’s a “Coney Island Carnival Experience.” This is a reference to the “Fun Society” arcade that was central to the plot of season one. The arcade was a hub where the hackers gather to make and implement their strategies of setting the world to right.

Before the advent of the Atari and home gaming systems, places like arcades could allow tech enthusiasts the opportunity to play with the sort games they didn’t own. Anybody with a quarter could walk to the cutting edge of gaming in these techno-social gathering places. Setting the “F Society” revolution at such a gathering place seems like a very logical choice. Setting this carnival/arcade experience at SXSW and making it open to the public is an equally appropriate decision.

Later in the season, the hackers throw an “End of the World Party” so the general public can come in and cover their fingerprints. On Saturday, March 12, the SXSW “Mr. Robot” carnival is having its own party. From 7-9, the gates close to the general public, and this event will transform into an “End of the World” party, complete with pseudo-homemade posters taped to buildings.

The event is very well-attended. There are games to play, masks to wear, and silk screened shirts. The masks mimic a mask shown in the TV show, a figure that represents their hacker revolution. It bears a strong resemblance to the Monopoly man, presumably intentional.

People carry the masks for a while and take some selfies. Then they get bored and toss them away.

The line for T Shirts is very long. Rumors say it’s been taking hours.  People politely stand in this very long line so that they can get one of these limited edition “F Society” shirts. There are other designs as well, but the “F Society” message seems to resonate.

Any event that is open to the public in this area usually draws a decent handful of homeless residents willing to stand in line for whatever is free and always in the know about what happens in their backyard.   As a result, homeless people of Austin now have “F Society” shirts made possible through corporations and viewers like you.

The “Mr. Robot” Ferris Wheel, with its grinning emblem, looms over us all. It’s 100 feet tall and can be seen from blocks away. After the sun sets, this sparkling wheel will lend a particularly eerie light to some of the foggier nights this SXSW.   It’s beautiful and strange.

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The carnival at night

 

 

 

 

 

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