The beauty about SXSW is that each attendee has a wholly different experience than that of his fellow brethren. You may be at the same show as someone else, but what catches your eye (or ear) walking down 6th street (or never walking down 6th street) is different for everyone. So really, it should have not come as a surprise that I ended up at a booty contest. Accidentally, of course.
Day 2 of this illustrious music fest also coincided with St. Patrick’s Day, so the usual swarm of people colliding in downtown Austin was freckled with a subset of local and foreign (but mainly local) green. There was of course lots of acoustic sets and lots of jam sessions, but it was New Orleans’ Big Freedia – self-proclaimed ‘Queen Diva of Bounce Music’ – that caught my eye. Literally. Backup dancers scantily clad in gold and sparkles, Freedia’s numerous diamond-encrusted jewelry, and a sharply-dressed DJ took to the stage to headline the Dovecote Creative Unofficial Showcase. And there is a huge reason this is called bounce music: I have never seen any woman shake her tailfeathers so fast and with such precision. How to best photograph an ass going about 25mph in a circular motion, strutted up from a chair? A job’s a job.
Thankfully though, past the booty shorts and the gaudiness, there’s a level of sincerity and talent within Big Freedia’s music. Some of the lyrics could be throwaways: song “Ass Everywhere” repeats the phrase ad naseum. But by the end, I was on the bandwagon, circling my own hips to the catchy, bass-y line of rhythm featured prominently in every Freedia song, and hollering alongside Freedia as he/she asked the audience to swear back at him/her and then get on stage to get into a booty competition with a fellow “big ass owner.” I can relate.
Somehow, the rest of the day couldn’t compare to the assacle (“ass pinnacle”) I experienced, but an additional highlight was watching Innerpartysystem at 3:40am, dripping with sweat. Slightly furious about being pushed back due to an overextended and slightly dull set by The Bravery, IPS climbed on stage and did not stop playing for a solid 20 minutes until house lights came on for noise curfew. They wanted to make it out, and it showed. Kudos, Brooklynites.