I just now went through the pictures that I took outside and inside Mohawk on that terrible Wednesday night of SXSW 2014. I’m not sure why I didn’t look at them the next day as I usually do but when I finally did a smile was created. This is the forth year in a row that I have volunteered for SXSW. I live downtown and I love everything and everyone southby brings and I just have to be apart of it. SXSW for me started the Thursday night before the Interactive sessions with the Start Up crawl and by the time the Music section started I was already super tired. On Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 I was scheduled to shoot the Mohawk venue from 8pm until 2am and Tyler the Creator was the headliner. This night changed me.
This was the first year I decided to use my bike to get from venue to party to venue to home. A bike really enables you to simply do more and I really like to maximize my SXSW experience. Many of the venues and bars get taken over during the festival and the Mohawk turned into the ‘House of Vans.’ I knew this showcase was going to be a popular one so I arrived a little early. I have never seen a line this long, this early to get into a show.
For those who have never been to Austin during SXSW, the police block off the streets downtown so people can walk in the streets or lines can extend into the street. Most of the madness happens around the 6th street area but there is some great music where we were a few blocks north. This is a really great thing because you can just walk around without having to worry about anything… well, until now.
I arrive outside of Mohawk and I was like, holy sh!t… this line is crazy. I have a platinum badge, a press tag on my camera’s and a staff shirt but I don’t like to cut in line unless I have to. Typically I don’t pull out the camera until I’m shooting the bands because I will be taking thousands of pictures throughout the week but I had time to kill and everyone was in such a great mood despite standing in line.
Since there were so many people wanting to get in the staff had to restructure the line. When I arrived it was just two super long lines that were almost a block long and they moved everyone to more of a que style… typically a great idea but this put most of the people in the street. This is totally normal because the streets are blocked off and I didn’t think twice about it. You can see the photos below of how many people were in the middle of the street in line. I start to walk around and take photos and ask who everyone was there to see. The exciting thing about SXSW to me is not the big name bands, it’s the people who you have never heard of and you are going to discover. Everyone was so happy and excited as it was the first night of the music and there were many great nights ahead. Everyone was happy.
The incident happened only a few feet away from me and was an absolutely terrible scene. The pictures and video that I have seen online aren’t even close to describing how it really was. People were laying on the ground not moving and getting CPR from some random person in hipster clothes that was partying 5 mins before. A guy aggressively rips off his shirt into pieces to tie turnakits. Others were crying hysterically because their friend was hit two feet from them. My god, what a terrible scene… such a terrible scene.
We had to evacuate Mohawk and most people had no idea why. They were very upset since they had been waiting hours to see Tyler the Creator and in the process of helping someone stole my bag with expensive camera equipment in it. Luckily I had my big camera in hand so I didn’t lose my photos but unfortunately without a bag I had to walk my bike a long way home with all those images in my head. I didn’t really go through the pictures until yesterday and it made me happy… people come to Austin to have fun, meet new people and listen to music and they enjoy it. Brutal actions by a horrible person is not enough to ruin the positive effects of SXSW.
Probably the coolest thing ever happened to me yesterday! I lost my bag the night of the horrible events outside of The Mohawk Austin during SXSW. I thought for sure it was stolen as it was no where to be found after all the madness happened and we had to evacuate Mohawk. Yesterday (over 3 months later) Cody, the GM of Mohawk, emails me saying he found a bag with my business cards in it. I couldn’t believe it. Over $1,000 worth of equipment all safe and sound. It was buried under a pile of employees old clothes just sitting in the back room until Cody finally decided to open the bag to see if he could find out who it belonged to… crazy.
When I thought my bag was stolen I didn’t care because I was happy to be alive and now I am happy because of great people in this world and this amazing city!!
****BACK TO ORIGINAL POST****
Here are the photos I took before the terrible events outside of Mohawk.
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