1) Tom Waits, Paramount Theatre, 1999
We sat in the balcony, and it was great to see the stage from above, especially when Waits was at the piano. I had heard he doesn't play a lot of older stuff, so it was a nice surprise when he did play some. The new stuff, from Mule Variations, was good, too. Fantastic show. There was an odd episode when a woman in the crowd complained to Waits about how impossible it was for "regular people" to get into the show. At the show, from the audience, she's whining about not being able to get in! Waits seemed genuinely concerned for her (I think he called her "darlin'"), but the rest of the audience was less than sympathetic.
– Brian Barry, Web director, Austin Chronicle employee since September 1995
2) My favorite SXSW moment was winning a Jury Prize for our film "Petting Sharks" in the Texas Shorts program at SXSW Film 2010.
– Michael Bartnett, Classifieds coordinator, Austin Chronicle employee since December 2005
3a) March 1987
The phone rings. It is 6 in the morning, mid-March 1987. I am 36 years old. I'm still living like a graduate student: a bed, a chair, a homemade table for a desk, cinderblock-and-raw-board bookcases. Records are stacked in every direction, sprawling across the floor – it is 1987, before CDs. I'm sleeping in this wretched bed but not really sleeping, staring at the ceiling, tense. I answer the phone. "It begins in a few hours." It is Roland Swenson. It is the first day of the first South by Southwest Music and Media Conference and Festival, and no one has any idea of what is to come. I'm lying in bed, dressed, waiting in the drab, cold, dark one-bedroom back-half of a house off of Reflector Alley near 37th Street. I have no idea. I am just cold and wired. "Yeah, I know."
We both hang up.
– Louis Black, editor and co-founder of The Austin Chronicle, Sept. 4, 1981; co-founder of SXSW, March 1987
3b) Many SXSWs During Many Different Years
"The highway is your girlfriend as you go by quick."
– "Roadrunner," Jonathan Richman
The absolute best time I have had and continue to have at SXSW is when, on the Saturday night of Music, I go out on Red River or on Sixth Street and find some place not too overt or obvious to stand – leaning back against a fence or a building or just standing. The next 60 to 90 minutes, I stand there just looking at the crowds as they ebb and flow. It makes it all worthwhile. There is nothing better. I'm there watching the crowd, feeling the evening, trying to soak in as much of the event as I can as it winds down to the end.
– Louis Black, editor and co-founder of The Austin Chronicle, Sept. 4, 1981; co-founder of SXSW, March 1987
4) Nothing raucous or "Oooh, I saw [famous indie band] at [relatively small venue]" from me, just my memory of grabbing a couple of free Shiners at the Conference with former Austinite Andrew Baron of Rocketboom.com, chilling on a convention center balcony and hearing about how he'd just sold his Know Your Meme site to Ben Huh of the I Can Has Cheezburger? empire, but, shhhh, the deal wouldn't be solid for another two weeks so don't tell anybody yet. For me, SXSW tends to be about reconnecting with cyberspace movers and shakers that the Festival briefly draws back to the ATX.
– Wayne Alan Brenner, Arts Listings editor, Austin Chronicle employee since January 2000
5) Having attended SXSW for the past 14 years, I find picking my favorite moment is sort of like picking bubbles from Champagne. The memory that stands out has to be the BBC Radio 1 gig at the Austin Music Hall in 2006, which featured Morrissey and a "Special Guest" that was (shhhhhhh) supposed to be the Kinks. The electricity of anticipation in the crowd was palpable, and the entry line supposedly snaked around the block. The unfortunate souls who never made it into the venue missed an hourlong set by Goldfrapp instead, who proceeded to play many of its hits in what would turn out to be an impromptu replacement gig for the "Special Guests" that didn't show. It was a doubleheader that would set the bar for future SXSW performances at the Music Hall. I'm just glad I got a chance to witness this accidental showcase.
– Brian Carr, senior Classifieds account executive, Austin Chronicle employee since December 1995
6) Ginger Man Pub, 2004, Day Party, Marah
My most memorable SXSW moment came pretty early in my Chronicle tenure and really opened my eyes to the fact that all good shows don't necessarily start with a long line. Free beer in my hand, a seat under a tree, and an introduction to a band I had never heard before. No idea how long the band played, but it wasn't long enough. Every single person in the crowd was mesmerized, and then they go and bring Robyn Hitchcock onstage for a song. Could it have gotten any better? Maybe if they brought out Bruce Springsteen, whom they totally reminded me of by the way. Still waiting for an encore. Big thanks to co-worker Jerald Corder for that recommendation.
– Erin Collier, marketing director, Austin Chronicle employee since September 2002
7) In addition to working at the Chronicle, I moonlight Downtown as a doorman at a Red River club. Last year, as I was leaving the club in the early morning hours, I saw a man trying to pull a drunken rag doll of a woman off the sidewalk where she had passed out. He struggled to pull the unconscious woman upright by one of her arms as two police officers watched. I imagined the police officers patiently waiting for the poor Sixth Street samaritan to give up so they could take the woman to the drunk tank. As I walked by, the man, still struggling with the besotted, badged beauty, explained to the officers, "You don't understand, she's French."
– Mike Crissey, proofreader, Austin Chronicle employee since October 2010
8) One of my favorite SXSW memories was from the "Great Alt-Country Scare of the Mid-Nineties," when everyone thought alt.country was going to be the next big thing, and the big showcase at SXSW 1996 everyone had to get into was at the Split Rail at Seventh Street and Red River. Also on the bill were the Old 97's, Bottle Rockets, and Waco Brothers, but Whiskeytown was the big draw due to the record company bidding war for the band's services. There was a huge line out front, one of the first big lines I remember at SXSW. I managed to get close enough to the front of the line to catch the eye of a SXSW bigwig who waved us in to see the show. Once inside the dark club, we realized we had better find a spot and hang there as the place was packed.
I remember my foot going through the floor of the club at some point, too. Whiskeytown finally hit the stage, and Ryan Adams began showing us that surly attitude he would later become famous for, talking to the crowd and introducing the songs. The big hit of the night was Caitlin Cary's song "Matrimony." We left feeling like we had seen a talented new band and couldn't wait to hear more from them. Of course, they flamed out after two more albums and many personnel changes (none of the alt.country bands ever sold any records, unless you count Wilco, which quickly distanced itself from that scene), but it was obvious we had seen something special that night.
– Jerald Corder, senior account executive, Austin Chronicle employee since February 1987, one month before the first SXSW
9) Since I can't remember most of my memorable SXSW memories very well, I'm going to choose one from the most recent Fest. I'd begun dating someone just prior to SXSW 2011, and it was going well. She is a huge Duran Duran fan, so we were excited to learn that they were headlining a SXSW showcase at Stubb's.
The entire lineup at the showcase was solid, so we showed up early to make sure she could get in (I had a badge, but she had only a wristband). We gained admittance with ease and enjoyed a few adult libations while taking in sets from Yuck, James Blake, Raphael Saadiq, and others.
Then Duran Duran took the stage, to the delight of the crowd (and my date). All was going well until about a third of the way into the set, when my date got into a verbal confrontation with another female concertgoer. Sensing that neither of them was going to back down and a physical confrontation was imminent, I inserted myself between the two of them and broke it off before things got out of hand. A guy standing behind me summed it up the best: "Dude, it's just Duran Duran."
My date immediately went back to enjoying the show, and I did too after the initial shock wore off. The concert ended and we started to head back to her car down Red River when she proclaimed, "I went to break into something." What? I responded with something along the lines of "I'm 42, I don't 'break into' stuff."
End of story: We didn't break into anything, and I'm still single.
– Mark Fagan, proofreader and Sports and Postmarks editor, Austin Chronicle employee since July 2001
10) SXSW 2010
I was sitting in the panel "Ukulele for Geeks: Secrets of the Pentatonic Scales" when the fire alarm went off. There is a scene still etched in my memory of walking through the door onto the fire escape and seeing the ocean of humanity flowing down the stairs and out into the street. That's a lot of people! Twenty-thousand or so?
– Rebecca Farr, systems administrator, Austin Chronicle employee since October 2008
11) Several years ago, SXSW perennials Dash Rip Rock were playing at some low-ceilinged bar on Sixth Street. I was in the front row, about two feet from a mic stand on the barely elevated stage. As the band started playing an opening I didn't immediately recognize, punk legend Jello Biafra brought four shots to the stage and handed three of them out to the band members. He then got behind the mic, knocked back his shot, sprayed me in the face with a mouthful of bourbon, and tore into the Guess Who's "American Woman." Memorable.
– Liz Franklin, controller, Austin Chronicle employee since April 2000
12) The first year I worked at the Chronicle (1998), I saw Tom Waits at the Paramount and my best friend slept with the oldest Hanson.
– Cassidy Frazier, Classifieds director, Austin Chronicle employee since July 1998
13) SXSW 2000 at the Back Room
I was friendly with the general manager of the Back Room at the time, so when Dave and I went to Hip-Hop Night, he met us at the door and asked if we wanted to meet Chuck D. He had a bouncer escort us over to the side of the stage where Chuck was standing. I said my hellos and got him to sign my badge. Dave leaned in and whispered something in Chuck's ear, Chuck said something back, and they just smiled and shook hands. Walking away with Dave, I asked: "What the hell was all that? Why didn't you get him to sign your badge?"
Dave said, "I got what I wanted," and he never told me what he had said. I think that was the night I coined the term "The Dave Mystique." If you knew him, you'd understand.
– Mark Gates, graphic designer, Austin Chronicle employee since June 1997
14) Sometime in the mid-Nineties, my friend Alex came to town for SXSW. I had just bought an Isuzu Trooper because my wife and I had just had a baby, and Alex and I had driven to a showcase at the Electric Lounge. After the showcase was over, Alex and I got into the Trooper to go to another showcase (I believe it was the band Bush) at Liberty Lunch. I suggested that since the Trooper had four-wheel drive, we should take a shortcut and drive along the railroad tracks to get there. It was going great until about halfway to our destination, when we hit some unseen object that literally lifted the front end of the Trooper into the air and cracked our heads against the roof of the car. As I sat in the car trying to imagine how I would explain to my wife that I had totaled our brand new car while boondocking my way to a Bush showcase, Alex got out of the car to see what we'd just hit. He said it looked like the entire transmission and driveshaft had fallen out of the Trooper. Incredulous, I got out to look at it myself and upon closer inspection realized we'd hit some sort of metal switching equipment next to the tracks, and, amazingly, partly because of the steel brush plate under the front of the Trooper, the engine was spared and the steel spire of the switching device ended up perfectly in the wheel well. With Alex's help, I backed the Trooper off the object, and we went on to the Bush showcase. Everything Zen indeed.
– Dan Hardick, Luvdoc, Austin Chronicle employee since May 1989
15) As a 19-year veteran of SXSW, I've of course forgotten more than I remember about the annual free-for-all, but I haven't gone senile just yet. Having Johnny Cash tower above me at Emo's during "I Walk the Line"; Tom Waits looming out over the front rows at the Paramount Theatre as Margaret Moser and I huddled up and shrank down into our fifth-row seats in abject amazement; meeting Moby Grape's Peter Lewis backstage at last year's Austin Music Awards, then seeing the rest of the band a couple hours later and getting a hug as a greeting from guitarist Jerry Miller: The greatest hits are easy. There's one footnote I always come back to, however. One of those eye-of-the-storm moments in which all the chaos of all those years crystallizes into one simple interaction.
Standing at the corner of Eighth Street and Red River one morning during SXSW 2008, I hadn't even had breakfast yet, but I'd just rocked UK MC Dizzee Rascal and Clash guitarist Mick Jones' new band Carbon/Silicon back-to-back in a parking lot a few feet from the crosswalk where I was standing. Fellow Clash freak Dan Oko and I bonded over Dizzee's grime and Jonesy's grooves, and I had the whole day ahead of me, Downtown still mostly asleep. The sun was shining; it'd be in the 80s that day. I was waiting for the light, alone, when a tall, skinny black kid arrived to wait too. I looked up and gave him my broadest smile. I stuck out my hand, palm up, and giving me a wry grin back, Dizzee Rascal swiped his palm against mine. Neither of us said a word as the light turns green and we hopped off the curb.
– Raoul Hernandez, Music editor, Austin Chronicle employee since February 1993
16) SXSW is always a crazy time of year – especially for those of us in the Production Department. We pick up the pace from our usual weekly routine to publish daily. It's also a hectic time for photographers, scurrying all over town and pushing through crowds. The days run together, and my only time reference is my Production schedule and what bands I am assigned to shoot. At SXSW 2010, I was having an especially hectic day. A last-minute photo assignment had me rushing all over Downtown. After walking from Red River to La Zona Rosa for what felt like the hundredth time, I had to rush back to the office to upload my Ray Davies photos before deadline. I had about 15 minutes to upload the photos and get back to Red River. I was exhausted and cranky, and the line to my final assignment of the night was around the block. I hadn't heard of the band I was assigned to shoot and was completely unaware they were the buzz band that year: the XX. Talking my way into the show ahead of 500 people proved difficult. Making my way toward the front of the stage was even harder. Shooting around the 6-foot-5-inch guy in front of me? Nearly impossible. But from the first notes, I fell in love with the band. I had my first SXSW discovery that really knocked me off my feet. For the next hour, I shot and watched and listened intently. And I haven't stopped listening since.
– Shelley Hiam, graphic designer/freelance photographer, Austin Chronicle employee since October 2004
17) By 1994, SXSW was a growing concern, and so was our young son, Zeke. In those pre-Austin Convention Center days, the Conference was headquartered at the Hyatt Regency, where the core staff stayed for the run of the event. Zeke was a strapping almost-2-year-old with mad climbing skills, but at least he hadn't figured out how to open doors – or so I thought. It was an unseasonably warm March afternoon, and Zeke and I had returned to our room after a short break in the hotel pool. I'd just stripped us both out of our wet swimsuits and was standing naked at the bathroom sink when I heard the unmistakable click of a door latch opening behind me. Turning, I was just in time to see Zeke's bare butt tearing out the door onto the 14th floor of the Hyatt. If you've ever stayed in a Hyatt, you know all rooms open onto an atrium – basically a giant abyss with a lobby at the bottom. The only thing between you and thin air is a flimsy, waist-high railing, easily scalable by the same monkey-child I'd recently found atop our dining room table leaping for the ceiling fan. No time to think, let alone dress. In a nanosecond, I was sprinting after him, stark naked in broad daylight, in full view of the entire Hyatt lobby. Zeke was already six doors down and hustling like a racehorse when I snagged him. With his chubby wrist in a death grip, I turned back, only to see our room door with its automatic lock … slowly swinging closed. Hanging on to Zeke, I launched a flying goalie lunge toward our room, wedging the tip of one finger into the gap just before the lock clicked. As I pulled the door shut, I took one last peek around the lobby. Silence.
We've never stayed at that hotel again.
– Susan Moffat, Austin Chronicle contributing editor 1984-1994; married to Publisher Nick Barbaro, who is also a founding director of SXSW. Zeke is now 19 and works in the Chronicle Production Department.
18a) SXSW 1987, the Back Room
We had this "one band, one song" rule we tried to impose in order to see as many bands as possible. Sometime late in the evening, we entered the Back Room, and the top of my skull exploded as Dash Rip Rock's Fred LeBlanc whipped his drums in jackhammer time to Hank Williams' "I Saw the Light." I fell on my knees, literally. It might have been the whiskey. I had never heard of Dash Rip Rock or Fred LeBlanc then, but that would be the moment I now seek in every SXSW: epiphany when you least expect it.
– Margaret Moser, Music staff writer, Austin Chronicle employee since Sept. 4, 1981
18b) In the early years of SXSW, I would regularly hijack one of the transport vans and call it the Van From Hell, appoint a driver, and make him drive me and my friends around picking up musicians and bands. We'd usually carry a stack of backstage passes for the Austin Music Awards and pass them out like candy to visiting bands. During one stop in 1988, we had picked up Poi Dog Pondering when I spotted Fred LeBlanc of Dash Rip Rock. "OMG! It's Fred LeBlanc!" I dragged him into the van, which he went along with willingly. We drove for a bit, and I started bragging on him as he was talking to someone else, when he turned around and said to the entire van, "Is she still talking?" When I just laughed and kept talking, he swung his arm over the seat and clapped his hand over my mouth for three blocks.
– Margaret Moser, Music staff writer, Austin Chronicle employee since Sept. 4, 1981
18c) In 1989, Dan Baird from the Georgia Satellites showed up in my room with Creative Loafing Editor Tony Paris. I was starstruck, since we'd adopted "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" as our Van From Hell theme song. "Come in and sit down!" I offered Dan a spot on the bed. He slid on the floor but took the beer I gave him. Looking around, he spotted my earplugs and sleep mask on my nightstand. "What's that?" he bellowed? "My sleep mask and earplugs," I explained. Dan shook his head. "That's cheating!"
– Margaret Moser, Music staff writer, Austin Chronicle employee since Sept. 4, 1981
19) 86'd for Life
Before SXSW 2003, the Chronicle circulation director Dan Hardick and Publisher Nick Barbaro asked me to do a bunch of extra tasks. One of these was to restock the Chronicle racks in the Austin Convention Center twice a day. I had no kind of badge or other identification. This meant that every time I had to pass to an area where some minion of SXSW was required to check for and allow only badgeholders through, I had to go through the seven dances of hell – usually by wandering around until I found someone in the hierarchy of SXSW who could vouch for me and corroborate that I wasn't trying to run a scam by attempting to get through the checkpoint using a dolly stacked with bundles of Chronicles.
I was asked to do this in 2004 as well. The day before SXSW began, I was sitting in Dan Hardick and Marketing Director Erin Collier's cubiplex at the Chronicle office when Nick came in and offered Erin a Platinum badge. She told him that she had already gotten hers the night before. I told him that I'd take it, and to my surprise, he handed it over to me. I had volunteered as a stagehand the year before and got a Music badge for my efforts. I removed the picture and name from that badge and glued them onto Erin's extra badge. I showed Nick the reformed badge to make sure he knew what I was up to. (Nick is also a founding director of SXSW.)
I wore this badge while performing my duties, and it got me through the gantlet of checkers effortlessly. I didn't use it to see any SXSW events, though – only to do my various jobs.
On the last day of SXSW 2004, I was wandering about the front hallway of the convention center when Peggy, the head of volunteers for SXSW, saw me and took a closer look at my badge. She quickly ascertained that it was a counterfeit, took it from me, and walked it and me over to Nick, who was standing nearby.
Peggy was spouting about what a poor excuse for a human being I was and that I was engaged in the act of stealing from SXSW while she handed the badge over to Nick. Nick tsk tsked and shook his head while thanking Peggy for her acumen.
I was informed within a week that I had been 86'd as a SXSW volunteer for life.
My only volunteer position at that time was as one of the backstage security guys at the Austin Music Awards. Although the Music Awards are a SXSW event, they are organized through the Chronicle, and the staff is somehow out of the purview of the SXSW infrastructure.
So, although I was 86'd for life as a SXSW volunteer, I was also still a SXSW volunteer. In 2005, Nick made sure I got a legal Platinum badge so that I could do my jobs for him unmolested.
– Motorcycle Michael, distribution driver, Austin Chronicle employee since June 2001
20) SXSW 2011
I went to a daytime show at Scoot Inn with my friend Greg Lowenhagen, who runs the Hopscotch Music Festival in North Carolina. He is usually in the know when it comes to hot bands, and he kept talking about this band called Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. We went to the day show and got there early, but there was already a huge line of kids waiting to see them. I work with the bar manager, so he walked us in (we both had wristbands). We get in, and Odd Future comes onstage, and the place just erupts. The lyrics are super nasty, and the guy is surfing the crowd, and it's all good, when I suddenly hear what sounds like a stampede of bulls coming from behind me. I look around, and all these kids – and I'm talking a giant posse of 13- and 14-year-olds – have stormed the gates and are just hauling ass toward the band. They totally infiltrate the crowd standing in front of the stage, literally inserting themselves into the crowd in a matter of seconds, so there was no way security could have gone and handpicked any of them from the crowd. Some of the last kids to make it through the gates weren't quite so lucky, and I did see a couple of them being dragged out by their ears. Meanwhile, I get shoved pretty hard, and I look back to see who did it, and this little tweenage boy stops running, turns around and yells, "Sorry, ma'am!" Nice manners, right? It was the best show I saw the entire week, way better than the show Odd Future did later at the East Side Drive-In.
– Annette Patterson, senior account executive, Austin Chronicle employee since August 1991
21) My most memorable and least favorite SXSW moment is getting a beer thrown at me by the little twit Lady Sovereign during a Ghostface Killah Show at La Zona Rosa. I don't remember what year it was (probably 2006). I hate beer and smelling like it.
– Cassandra Pearce, accounting assistant, Austin Chronicle employee since January 2008
22) SXSW is inescapable. It's everywhere and everything. It's not just a four-day marathon of bands and booze but, at least for the Chronicle Music staff, a six-month affair of preparation and follow-through that effectively sets the agenda for the editorial calendar. As stressful as it may be, the rewards always return tenfold. There are countless moments that I'll always cherish – Metallica at Stubb's, my first encounter with Boris at what was then Spiro's Amphitheater, Flower Travellin' Band at something called Smoking Music, to name three – but only one event has induced tears: the Jail Guitar Doors launch in the chapel of the Travis County Correctional Complex last year.
The devastating honesty of Wayne Kramer's opening statement left everyone in the room reeling but, more importantly, created an instant level of trust with the inmates – those the nonprofit provided with musical instruments and lessons in order to assist in the rehabilitation process. I have no doubt that his ensuing Q&A helped provide at least a glimmer of inspiration and insight to the struggling addicts in the room, while the ensuing concert – featuring Tom Morello, Billy Bragg, and the Foo Fighters' Chris Shiflett – offered a rare treat, whose emotional weight altogether trumped that of the accompanying, official SXSW showcase.
With the daily edition deadline looming like a pound of bricks overhead, I struggled immensely to churn out my report. I just couldn't seem to get across the magnitude of what I witnessed: the healthy release of AA and the redemptive grace of the church both channeled purely through unplugged acoustic guitars. Here's the best I could come up with.
– Austin Powell, Music columnist, Austin Chronicle employee since August 2007
23) I very clearly remember seeing Broken Social Scene not long after the band's career-making review on Pitchfork. There were about as many people in the audience at Momo's as there were onstage. The band went through the majority of You Forgot It in People (which hadn't made it to the stores or iTunes at the time), bowling the crowd over with a note-perfect rendition of "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl." I thankfully got the last CD they had for sale.
– James Renovitch, Community Listings editor, Austin Chronicle employee since October 2002
24) The irrepressible, inimitable New York Dolls – my favorite band ever besides the Stones – played at Stubb's on March 18, 2005. I saw the Dolls in NYC in the late Seventies, and I have been forever smitten: their songs, clothing, guitars, and aura of decadence define rock & roll.
– Lois Richwine, senior account executive, Austin Chronicle employee since September 1983
25) One of the upsides of working for the Chronicle is the free SXSW Music badge; one of the downsides of working for the Chronicle as a proofreader is the fact that sometimes the dailies schedule means you don't get to use it. So it's telling, perhaps, that one of my clearest SXSW memories is from right here in the office during my first SXSW in 2010. Two shifts had already started working on the content for the March 18, 2010, daily issue when one of our late-shift proofreaders, Lei-Leen Choo, showed up for work and asked the proofers and Raoul Hernandez if we'd heard the Alex Chilton news. Fact-checkers that we are, we found a few early reports of the Big Star star's death, and instantly the team started over on a new cover and revised content to pay our respects.
– Monica Riese, proofreader, Austin Chronicle employee since January 2008
26) For me, SXSW is a time to recharge and listen to as many shows as I can possibly fit into my schedule. I write mostly about criminal justice issues – cops and courts and all that – and these things can get heavy, so I love SXSW because it is generally the opposite of that. Or so it was before (and since) March 18, 2004, when the end of an Ozomatli show on East Sixth Street turned into a bizarre cop confrontation. The band did what it typically does at the end of a show: lead a percussion line of fans in a loop from the stage, out, around – wherever that may be (in this case, out the front door of Exodus and briefly onto the sidewalk of East Sixth) – and back to the stage to say goodnight. On this particular evening, however – the first night of the Music Fest – the percussion line met the thin blue line outside the club. Cops said to stop playing music outside; the band tried to go back in the club, but there were too many people following from behind for the band to reverse quickly – or at least quickly enough for the Austin police officers who decided to speed things up by pepper spraying the crowd and arresting two members of the band along with their manager. As the crowd moved away from the ruckus, I actually moved into it. I'm told there are several choice descriptions of my actions in the official police report. I've been pepper sprayed before – notably, in Los Angeles, Ozo's hometown, during the 2000 Democratic National Convention – so I know not to touch my eyes after they've been dosed, which actually helped me to see the event as it unfolded. Suffice it to say, it was not pretty for the city – and, apparently, I was a pain in the Austin Police Department's ass (see "Not Quite 'Ya Se Fue!'," News, March 26, 2004). Go figure.
– Jordan Smith, staff writer, Austin Chronicle employee since February 2001
27) Since I haven't been to SXSW much in many years, I guess my most memorable moment would have to be after the first Austin Music Awards. Louis Black and I were housemates. I got home first; Louis trailed in much later, but I heard him come in. I heard him mumble something to himself like, "Wow, I can't believe how many people came!"
– R.U. Steinberg, Mr. Smarty Pants, Austin Chronicle employee since January 1982
28) I will always look back on the time I got to interview Amanda Palmer as less a series of events and more one moment split across a day. It was all very last-minute and ad hoc: Somewhere between leaving the office and getting down to Sixth Street, I went from holding the camera to spending a quarter of an hour chatting with the voice of the Dresden Dolls as she toured with her debut solo album. Fortunately for my frantically botched-together questions, La Palmer was pretty much everything you could want from an interviewee: funny, responsive, even a little flirtatious. After we wrapped, she had to run off to a day party, ukulele under her arm, which she deployed for a glorious sing-along version of Radiohead's "Creep." Later that night, she took to the stage at the Central Presbyterian Church in a white trench coat, opening the set with an electrifying, unaccompanied, and unamplified rendition of "The Wind That Shakes the Barley." And somewhere in the middle of all that, there was even free beer.
– Richard Whittaker, contributor, Austin Chronicle employee since January 2007
29) My favorite SXSW memory comes from years ago, when I still catered meals for the SXSW staff during Festival week. My friends Kellye and Jennifer are huge music fans who helped me with catering in exchange for Music wristbands. We pulled up outside the Hyatt, and they were unloading the food when headliner Tony Joe White and a friend approached the hotel entrance. Kellye and Jennifer ran toward White, squealing and shrieking like teenagers about how much they loved him. He laughed out loud, clearly delighted by the ardent attention of two attractive young women. The look of pure satisfaction on his face said everything there is to say about why guys pick up guitars. It's a look I'll never forget. Later that night, the girls sat on the floor in front of the Antone's stage and squealed with joy every time White made grunting noises during his swamp-rock classic "Poke Salad Annie" – he winked at them, grunting louder and longer after every squeal.
– Virginia Wood, Food editor, Austin Chronicle employee since August 1993
30) The best SXSW memory that I have revolves around one of the first years I attended as a volunteer. I was volunteering with the videography crew and was charged with shooting footage of the Film Fest opening night party at Maggie Mae's. I arrived around 9pm with my camera and starting shooting video of the mingling crowd. I came upon a group of people who were there from out of town. Among this group I met an interesting woman from Chicago named Alexis. We had such fun talking and laughing that I almost forgot that I had a job to do. After the party we spent the rest of the night running around from afterparty to afterparty at various clubs and random houses and generally causing trouble. At one point I looked at my watch and realized that it was 8:45am, and I had to get back to the Convention Center to check in for my first volunteer shift of the day. I was terribly exhausted all day, but I had created a fantastic new friendship that still exists today.
– Logan Youree, promotions manager, Austin Chronicle employee since March 2008
Bonus Moment, 2011:
– Kristine Tofte, proofreader, Austin Chronicle employee since July 2007