Feature Stories

What I Learned at My First, and the Darkest, South by Southwest Music Festival

Thousands of people are on Austin's famed Sixth Street, punks and hipsters and bros, et. al. We're standing in the jarring sunlight of daytime, the afternoon after an alleged drunken driver plowed into a crowd at South by Southwest. People walk gingerly past each other, as people do when they don't want to shoulder-barge other people to the ground in such a packed space, and the sheer buzz of the day before has dropped to a conversational level.

No one is shouting through the crowd. No one is dancing alone for reasons apparent only to them. The presence of authority is noticeably increased, especially at the intersections, which now have police cars parked across them where once there were barriers. It's SXSW on mute, or at least turned way down low, and you can't help but wonder whether anyone will, or should, turn it back up.