SXSFAIL: A Queer Takes on The Madness of Austin

On Food

If you only go to one place to eat make it the vegan spot where all the cute alt-kids hang out: Counter Culture. I mean, this here is a Green Mimosa with kale, ginger, and pineapple. I would show you a photo of my food but it was so incredible I inhaled it.


Ok ok, Austin, home of the food truck, right?

Kinda. Too bad they mostly jacked up their prices. I wouldn’t care so much if my mind was blown but when I’m paying $5 for a taco & $4 for a cupcake out of a TRUCK I expect something amazing.

On that note, Hillside Farmacy, where you can sit down, was super yummy.


Free food was mostly meh, but this one advertising agency did soak their soda gummies in bourbon.



Pretty please eat deep fried oreos.

And I’m totally bias, but I found my first Persian food truck!

On Accommodation [aka the Magical Faerie Nostalgia Palace]

Everyone has to stay somewhere, right? I happened to land with a tarot-reading witchy beauty Angel, in her whimsical house of curiosities. I slept in a trailer, the bath didn’t work, and there were 12 people sharing one bathroom. However, everyone was gorgeous and naked a lot, and when I’d go to brush my teeth, I’d emerge showered with makeup and jewelry from a bevy of babes. The only downfall was I kept forgetting to actually brush my teeth.


On Running Away

I’ve heard rumours that a major part of SXSW consists of a day trip where you and the people you’re so excited to see from all over the country drive away from the smelly masses you’re supposed to care about and go give yourselves a day of bliss. I’m pretty sure that’s in the official program, somewhere.


We went to Krause Springs, but not before loading up on traditional finger-lickin’ BBQ. Even my mostly-vegan-self bought almost a pound of brisket and some creamed spicy corn.

As soon as we walked in, we ran into these folks who reminded us that we are, despite appearances, still in Texas.


Go here. It costs $3. There’s a waterfall, a rainbow, and a rope swing. And no lines.

On Transport

Yabba Dabba Doo- Flinstones-style foot pedal power won SXSW, hands down. You could drunk-bike or jump in a pedicab (finding a real cab was a nightmare) to go anywhere. Bonus points if you got to ride with darth vader or speakers or glitter. PS. Parking and traffic were an expensive pain in the ass. Duh.

On Location

The majority of the action happens on a particular strip of 6th St. — akin to Bourbon St. in New Orleans — where walking feels like a videogame of avoiding drunken zombies. It’s where gutter-punks jam with tourists, buskers mingle with costumed wanderers, and spectacle spills out to street from all the bars.

Sonos Studio
It was hard to get into but there was free espresso patron, free doritos, and everything was pretty. Good enough.

Other Streets
Not all of Austin was invaded and colorful. There’s certainly some parts of the city that struggle. No lie.

Treasure City Thrift
Not only is it collectively organized with a safer spaces policy and regular 25 cent sales, it hosted a queer POC music showcase in its parking lot. ULTIMATE WIN.

Pussy Palace
Bust Magazine had a daytime party that was super fucking far away in the backyard of the Pussy Palace. I promised I’d shoot it, and so I did, and didn’t regret it (partially because I loved how sweet aka cute the bartenders were). I got to see Wampire, and there were copious amounts of Titos, a locally made Vodka. We may or may not have been gifted a few bottles that we transferred into water bottles to smuggle into all the nighttime parties. High school techniques can be surprisingly effective.

East Sixth
East 6th St is full of rad lighting, gay bars, hipster bars, punks, nicknack shops, and people on bikes. You should probably go there, even if it’s just for Cheer Up Charlie’s.

next: queer music and queer musicians and sxsw interactive

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Najva has written 2 articles for us.


  1. Loving the follow up and as an Austinite I can safely say we are glad when everyone leaves. Also, check the Barton Springs reference, the place has been closed for renovations, looks to me like you are at Krause Springs which is indeed another magical and awesome place. Come back and see us sometime when shit isnt crazy, it’s better that way!

  2. we don’t refer to it as South by So What for no reason and try to get the hell out of town…I’ve even known some judges that deliberately do not schedule a docket those last few days so that they don’t have to deal with the nonsense downtown.

    It used to be a decent event, not unlike ACL-fest was once decent (last one of those I went to was the dust bowl of ’05- turned down station passes every year after)…but those days are long gone. The couple of truly good shows that might exist just are not worth the other hassles…

    like okay everyone is gorgeous and this photo essay made me really happy (also happy that i wasn’t there because let’s be real i would die in a crowded situation like this, i need to be at home on my sofa in my pajamas to truly be at ease) but taylor you look SO FLY. purple glitter omg.

    thanks for doing the awesome festival traveling for us, najva, so us homebodies can marvel from afar!

  4. Agreed. The traffic this year almost killed me. My friend wore a shirt all week that said “Welcome to Austin. Please don’t move here. I hear Dallas is nice.” I’m thinking more of those shirts should be printed…

  5. OH MY GAWD, PERSIAN FOOD TRUCK, ALL MY DREAMS HAVE COME TRUE. (I am biased as well). There’s kookoo sabzi & salad shirazi in a take-out container, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF. And it’s called WHOLLY KEBAB, it’s perfect!

    Looking at these photos just solidifies my impression that I am no way cool enough to go to SXSW or any variation of.

  6. Yo can I just say, ATx meetup? Also why isn’t there a gay picnic every month?????

    Ferreal nice write up. My SXSW was so grody and ridic, it’s going to be even more disgusting next year I hope.

    • i also feel like Najva and I deserve some kind of medal of honor for actually living through both tech and music… GayBi was the Day 9 (10?!) finish line.

      mercury in retrograde or what have you explains why my flight was also canceled, i lost my phone in the las vegas airport on the way there, i never found a wifi signal ever, and i think i got my period like twice

  7. Fantastic photography and commentary. Makes me simultaneously envious and relieved that I will probably never get to go to SXSW, even if I do end up moving to the Austin area. But maybe one day I’ll sneak into GBGG.

    • “Makes me simultaneously envious and relieved that I will probably never get to go to SXSW, even if I do end up moving to the Austin area.”


      also now feeling like an embarrassing cliche because i keep threatening my gf that i’m gonna make us move to austin…and i’ve never even visited. but don’t worry texas, the likelihood of me leaving brooklyn (or, for that matter, my living room on some days) is very very very slim…but y’all make it look damn tempting.

      • I had the great fortune of visiting Austin back in the summer of ’06 and had friends that made it probably more awesome than it would have seemed had I been on my own.

        Totally feel you about not leaving your living room some days. Hell, I’m accomplished if I put on real clothing and not pajamas.

  8. so, so much fashion inspiration in this excellent (and super personally validating wrt festival experiences!) post. feel like i could make a tumblr dedicated solely to your trip to krause springs, in a non-creepy way. and then like, style my life after it and other related ephemera / songs / paint colors. i think this is totally normal.

  9. I am so sorry that you were at that Tegan and Sara/ Macklemore concert. I was there and the crowd (*cough*cough*itwasprettymuchjustMacklemorefans*cough*)was the most horrifying display of entitled white kids with more money and weed than they know what to do with that I have ever seen. Ugh! I know that not everyone is a Tegan and Sara fan, but jumping on unsuspecting fans pretending to “crowd surf” because you’re bored is NOT funny. And that venue was WAY too small to push. And if you’re going to smoke weed at a free concert, do it before you get in, or at least before everyone is packed in like sardines so that you aren’t blowing it rudely and directly into others’ faces. I had a friend tell me “that’s just concerts,” but I don’t care. In my opinion, if you are pushing people towards the stage, jumping on people, blowing smoke in other people’s faces, or engaging in any other unsafe behavior, you should be REMOVED from the concert. So. Many. Feelings. But Tegan walked RIGHT by me on her way to the signing and I almost DIED. *swoon*

  10. 1) Ah, it was nice to read a SXSW write-up from a queer lady perspective. All the ones I’ve read thus far have been annoying post-ironic dudebro accounts, and that shit gets old fast.
    2) Maybe I’ll make next year the year I’ll finally give in and go. It just seems so overwhelming. But as this post proves, perhaps if you just stick closer to the queer spaces the experience is more tolerable. Plus there’s a Midcoast Takeover stage every year where bands from my city play, so I could go support them I guess.
    3) Everyone in these photos is attractive to the point of being offensive and I’m afraid I would just walk around feeling invisible around them. :| Ah well, I’ve got a year to step up my game!

  11. I’ve been to SXSW three times for the interactive portion of the festival, and it’s gotten very hard to navigate. Busy, crowded and not much fun. The last time I was there I caught a cold on the plane going to, and by the end of the festival had walking pneumonia. It was pretty awful. I felt like I didn’t get much out of it.

  12. Dang. Love the pictures! Krause Springs is so awesome, but your photographs make it look even more magical! P.S. Is that Salt Lick BBQ?

    And kudos to you for waking up and getting to GBGG at a decent hour! I felt like superman all week without a hangover and then I woke up Sunday and thought I was going to die.

    This was my third SXSW and honestly, I don’t think I’m going to do it again next year. But then again…I think I said that last year too.

    • Oh my gosh, Mal Blum is the most amazing! Her songs encapsulate all the feelings, but actually. I found out about her 3 years ago and I’m single-handedly trying to make her famous by making all my friends listen to her.

      Ok, I’ll stop fan-girling now…

  13. The photos are beautiful! Look at all those fine people in my town!

    This recap makes me a little sad, tho. It was my first SXSW (I moved here right after 2012) and for me it was fucking magical. The city had this amazing energy and there were so many beautiful, smart, curious people everywhere you looked. I made new friends and found new bands and had a lot of drunken adventures and generally had a great experience. Yeah the traffic sucked, but it’s just one week a year. Doesn’t seem like a huge trade-off to me. I’d rather be grateful for the unique experience that shows up at my doorstep once a year and the chance to step out of my routine.

    Also, I was wondering why Autostraddle didn’t have an official thing at all? I know everyoneisgay did a panel, I’m sure y’all have something to share, too…

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