Is South by Southwest Too Rowdy?

Mackenzie Farkus, Editor in Chief

South by Southwest — affectionately known as SXSW — is, perhaps, Austin’s most famous festival besides Austin City Limits. Started in 1987, SXSW has grown in number of both acts and registrants. Although the festival is, arguably, the epicenter in Austin for creativity in a number of fields, SXSW has raised questions on whether or not it’s gotten too crowded and wild.

SXSW, which features a music, film, as well as an interactive portion, brings in a great number of tourists to the city every March. This year, SXSW’s keynote speaker was Lady GaGa, and headlining acts included Foster the People, Kendrick Lamar, Coldplay, and Snoop Dogg. The interactive portion of the festival saw Edward Snowden host a conference via webcam to speak to technology companies about protecting their users and consumers. Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, also held a conference at the interactive portion.

During SXSW’s film festival, the cult classic television show Veronica Mars, starring Kristen Bell, returned to the screen in movie format. Horror film Oculus, starring Karen Gillan of Doctor Who fame, and COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey, also premiered.

While SXSW is typically a fun and exciting festival, events this year have shifted that opinion. Now, SXSW has begun to raise questions on whether or not the festival has gotten too large and too rowdy. In fact, on March 13, Rahad Charjuan Owens was arrested for two counts of capital murder and twenty-three counts of aggravated assault when he escaped police while drunk driving and went down a one-way street in the wrong direction. Odd Future rapper Tyler, the Creator was also arrested for allegedly inciting a riot, telling fans that were outside of the venue to push forward past the police into the full capacity venue.

In fact, in 1995, SXSW’s registered attendance was around 1,010; however, this year, the registered attendance was around 29, 668.

“I went to see The 1975 with some of my friends, but the show got moved inside Waterloo because of the rain,” sophomore Erin Morris said. “We got really close to meeting them, though. Sadly, Waterloo staff cut off the meet and greet right before us. We were so close!”

Whether or not you decide to go to SXSW next year, chances are if you don’t go, you’ll be missing some great bands, films, and speakers. But if you’re looking for an event with no crowds, you’re out of luck.