This year’s South by marked my tenth year going, and to mark this occasion, I decided to volunteer for the festival. In exchange for volunteering over fifty hours, I was given a badge of my choice. The options were interactive, film, and music, and naturally, I chose to receive a music badge.
Although it was my first South by having some sort of credential, I didn’t make as much use of it as I thought I would, but I did use it for a few interactive activities, such as ‘Neurospeculative AfroFeminism’. Combining technology and fantasy, ‘Neurospeculative AfroFeminism’ used virtual reality to take me on a confusing and overwhelming, yet utterly amazing, journey. I also used it to see the Chainsmokers at the Apple Music South by event, which was awesome. Even though it was my eighth time seeing them, it was my first time being front row, and let me tell you, it was unreal.
The events that I used my music badge for were super cool and made volunteering for the badge totally worth it; however, my South by can be summed up best by an event that I went to that didn’t require a credential to get into. This event was held at the Lustre Pearl on Rainey street and was sponsored by Taco Bell’s Feed the Beat program. With a slogan of ‘Music, Food, and Heart’, Taco Bell delivered just that. We received free Doritos locos tacos, which I had never had before and are the bomb, and bean burritos, while enjoying performances by San Fermin and Jay Som, among other artists. During this event, I got to meet Danny Miller, the lead singer of Lewis Del Mar, which is one of my favorite bands and is the reason I went to this event in the first place. As well as getting to meet him, my friends and I high fived a couple of his band members after their performance and received their set lists. In spite of all that, the highlight of the event was the fact that each band we saw kept putting the plug in for Taco Bell. Although I’m almost positive they were told by Taco Bell to do this, the way in which they were integrating it into their performances was hilarious and extremely entertaining.
Taco Bell’s Feed the Beat event best sums up my South by experience, and South by in general, because it demonstrates that you don’t need a credential to experience South by. There’s always an event you can go to, something you can experience for the first time, and someone new you can connect with, all without a wristband or badge. This being said, I don’t regret volunteering at South by at all. It allowed me to experience a different side of the festival that I hadn’t before, yet still allowed me have the South by experience that I’ve come to expect over the years and to do what I love best: attend concerts and music festivals.
~Lewis Del Mar at Taco Bell’s Feed the Beat South by event ~