SXSW is a tale of two cities; one filled with avid students, one with networkers and partygoers. And while the sessions were particularly impressive this year, so were the parties.

Opening Party

On Friday, things started well with the official opening party at the JW Marriott, presented by web performance company Dyn. The lines were long, but the view of Austin from the 5th floor poolside rooftop terrace was worth it. There was also the Livefyre #Fyrebash, now in its sixth year and this time called ‘Fyrebash 54’ – a Studio 54 themed event to celebrate the company’s recent release of Livefyre Studio. That, and a secret Comedy Central afterparty at the Hyatt featuring Jon Stewart and Nick Kroll…

Saturday was dominated by Syfy & Philips’ Fusion party for both Film & Interactive attendees, where the music was loud, and the lighting was super cool. For upcoming show The Expanse, Philips has created a unique “light track” that uses audio cues and translates them into ambient lighting effects. Those attending got an exclusive look at the highly anticipated drama, set to a light-track that matches the action on screen with Philips Hue bulbs’ connected lighting experience.

That night there was also a highly oversubscribed party with Nas, which ended up getting shut down, with everyone turfed into the street before being clicked back in, a bit of a mood killer). And a definitely-not-official Killing Kittens event. 

Sunday was the busiest night of all, with Brandwatch, Sharethrough, Percolate, Spredfast and Mashable all on at the same time. Brandwatch had the best food at The Hightower, Sharethrough’s Beats & Bourbon at The Blackheart on Rainey Street was most certainly the best location and Percolate’s Mohawk bash bagged most iconic venue. MashBash at Rattle Inn was suitably rammed, as one of the official parties, but really, the place to be was at Spredfast.


Hosted at legendary ACL Live, they hosted both synthpop band Future Islands and The Flaming Lips to play two utterly stellar sets. Not even a 15 minute pause while the latter was playing (due to a fire alarm) could quash the crowd’s excitement, and no, there definitely wasn’t a cameo by Miley Cyrus as one of the inflatable mushrooms. 

Monday night saw H+K’s drinks at the Four Seasons, Econsultancy’s party at Dogwood, plus one of the biggest nights of the week; the Tumblr F**k yeah party, this year sponsored by Entourage, again back at Mohawk. With two stages and a host of semi-known bands and DJs, the lines were long and the place was packed. Jimmy Kimmel also started his week of filming live shows at The Long Center, where a portion of seats were reserved for badge holders, but meant lining up for at least half a day to secure them.


Tuesday hosted the closing party at famous Stubb’s barbeque, hosted by media temple, where TV on the Radio, Z-Trip and even Ludacris played. Ludacris was the highlight of the night, and even though some pretty significant rain threatening to ruin the party, the crowd kept going until way past official closing time.

Also worth mentioning were ‘all week’ venues Spotify House, Mashable House, the Samsung Studio, 3M’s LifeLab and the SXSW registrants lounge, where they were giving out more Miller Lite and Klondike candy than was necessary, but greatly appreciated by those in attendance.

Vikki Chowney

Vikki Chowney is director of content and publishing strategies at H+K Strategies UK.