South by Southwest (or just “South by” if you're cool and/or in a fake hurry) is well under way, with the interactive and film portions kicking off last weekend and the biggest draw, the music, just beginning.
Couldn't make it all the way to Texas? Fuck it. For those of us left behind, we bring you the guide to re-creating SXSW here in Los Angeles. It's easier than you think, probably just as fun, and definitely not as much of a hassle.
10. Corporate Lounges
SXSW may have the Microsoft Lounge, AT&T Lounge, Alcatel-Lucent Trend Lounge (swanky!), Samsung Blogger Lounge and Dell Lounge, but Los Angeles has a bunch of corporate lounges, too. Like our own Samsung Lounge at the corner of Wilshire and La Brea. So get your laptop, toss a velvet throw pillow on the concrete and blog around that old building with the obnoxious eyesore of a Samsung sign sitting high atop its roof.
9. The Music
Lest we forget that Coachella is just a guitar pick's throw away, here are a few shows in the next few weeks of bands that your friends from high school will be spinning in three years when they're done listening to Kings of Leon. Along with playing at SXSW, NO is at the Echo every Monday this month, Islands at the Bootleg on Wed., March 14, Big Deal/2:54 at the Echo on Tues., March 20, and Sharon Van Etten/The War on Drugs at Avalon on March 20.
8. Gadget Desperation and Tech Analyzation
“So are you gonna upgrade to an iPad 3?” “iPhone 5 — curved screen or what?” “Check out this app my friend designed…” “This Instagram? No filter. Seriously dude — no filter.” “Hey Britta! Cool blog post about big data.” “Those headphones are the shit.” There's no shortage of tech talk at SXSW, so for this we suggest heading over to an Apple store, finding a 24-year-old with a cool, spiky backpack and neon hair who most likely owns a million-dollar start-up company and start talking shop.
7. Oppressive Hipsterdom
Within the sometimes dispiriting rankings of the SXSW class system, you're probably somewhere in the middle (you're not Skrillex and you're not Frat Guy in a Cowboy Hat). Re-create some good ol' hipster posturing and head over to El Prado in Echo Park or 4100 Bar in Silver Lake to be judged and ostracized by the hipper than thou.
6. Physical and Verbal Elitism
Specifically, VIP badges, fancy wristbands and bitching about the bad Internet connection. This is just another day here in L.A., with Rolex replacing wristbands and Birkin bags replacing VIP badges. And despite strategically placed homeless people carrying wireless routers, our SXSW on-the-ground correspondent reported quite a bit of wi-fi complaints, which echoes many Angelenos' daily sentiments. See? You're not missing out on as much as you think.
5. Grilled Cheese, Tacos, BBQ
This trifecta of delicious street food is the unofficial cuisine of the fest with thousands of hungry party people lining up daily for grilled cheese, BBQ and tacos. Luckily, Los Angeles has an abundance of food trucks so you don't have to go far to find the Grilled Cheese Truck (@grlldcheesetruk) for grilled cheese, Smokin Willies (@smokinwillies) for BBQ and, like, every other food truck for tacos. We suggest Food Truck Tuesdays in Santa Monica to experience long lines and hordes of people to maneuver through.
4. Meticulously Chosen Outfits
Music fests are the Oscars for hipsters. Careful planning, consideration and coordinating go into highly stylish “thrown together” concert attire and all the style blogs and bloggers (Stylist and Refinery29, to name but two) will be out with their SLRs choosing the coolest-looking outfits to post. Re-create this by heading to your closet and putting together pieces you think match the least and then head over to the Melrose Trading Post flea market this Sunday, where local style bloggers lurk between antique mirrors and dusty records waiting to snap the stylish shoppers.
3. Free Shit (With a Cost)
Unless you're one of the aforementioned Sartorialist-obsessed fest attendees, you could, potentially, not pack a damn thing and get enough free T-shirts to last you the entire conference. Free T-shirts, posters, postcards, tote bags, food, etc., are an expected part of the trip. But it's free stuff that you're going to end up throwing away anyway, so to re-create this in L.A., go in your closet and find a bunch of shirts you haven't seen in a few years and donate them to the Salvation Army. It's the circle of swag. But it comes at a cost. Most often at SXSW, when you get something for free, you are prodded to use social media to talk about the company or product that gave it to you, so don't forget to tweet about your generous donation, too.
2. Not John Mayer
John Mayer got sick and canceled his show. No one is going to be seeing John Mayer. Not at SXSW. Not anywhere. So you can sit at home and not enjoy the guitar riffs and the between-song benevolent banter of beautiful John Mayer with everyone else at the festival who are probably not there to see him anyway. Wherever you are, John Mayer, we hope you get well soon.
1. The Movies
While your actor and filmmaker friends are at SXSW promoting their films, take this time to enjoy the empty seats at improv shows, plenty of parking at Runyon Canyon and empty seats at smaller, independent movie theaters. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, The Kid With a Bike opens Friday at the Nuart Theater , or there's a sneak preview of Pig, followed by a Q&A with the director, Henry Barrial, at the Downtown Independent theater.