This year’s SXSW Conference will run March 10-19 in Austin, Texas, for it’s thirty-seventh year. You might think, “film festival” when you hear SXSW. It’s first seven years, however, it was a music festival. Texas did, after all, bring us, among others, Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Janis Joplin.
There certainly will be no shortage of movies at SXSW, but that’s not all.
This year’s SXSW Conference will provide attendees with a glimpse into the past, an exciting present, and visions of the future.
Music and More
First there was music, then movies, but then so much more. The conference now includes explorations of current social, scientific, and business topics, and just about anything you can do with your computer. A new addition to the SXSW online presence allows you to look back at that nearly forty-year history. SXSW Iconic Moments brings back clips from Todd Rundgren’s 1995 keynote, President Barack Obama’s 2016 talk, and Bill Gates talking about technology and education in 2013. That barely scratches the surface. Over 100 videos from the past have been collected.
But, of course, there is still music. This year’s conference will include over 1400 bands playing at 75 of Austin’s music venues, including British rock legends, The Zombies. New this year, a partnership with the editors of Rolling Stone. The magazine’s music editors will pick 20 acts they believe will be the next wave of influential artists. The acts will perform from March 14-17 at ACL live, and this showcase will become a permanent part of the conference.
Even if you can’t make it to Austin, you’ll be able to listen to SXSW artists by subscribing to the SXSW playlists on Apple Music, YouTube Music Videos, or Spotify.
Look, Up In The Sky
No, it’s not Superman, it’s the James Webb Space Telescope. A keynote session Unfold the Universe will feature NASA scientists discussing discoveries made though the telescope. The session will display images never before seen by the public.
Other scientific topics will involve health and medicine. Discussion will include the integration of computers into human beings, ways to slow aging, and speculation on what humanity will eventually evolve into.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a track of sessions as well. Topics will include Is Elvis Back From the Dead: Ethical AI in Music, Helping People Navigate an AI World, Will AI Revolutionize or Wreck Criminal Justice?, and many more.
Want to know even more about the future? One of the Conference tracks is called simply 2050. Over 40 sessions explore ideas about issues, life, and problems and solutions which may be part of that future time. Living on other planets, de-extinction (like in Jurassic Park), future cities, and mind control are just some of the topics.
If all of this sounds too heavy for you, SXSW has a Comedy Festival as well. The festival presents a full schedule of comics March 10-14, with additional shows through Saturday, March 18. Stand-up, improv, podcasts, and sketch will all be included.
Your bound to find some of your favorites signed up. Among others in the fest, you will be able to see Bob Odenkirk, Chelsea Handler, Eric Andre, Greg Proops, Patton Oswalt, and Reggie Watts. Surprise guests tend to show up during the comedy shows, too. Last year I went to see John Cleese, of Monty Python fame, and his daughter Camilla perform. I received a great surprise when one of my favorites from 24, Mary Lynn Rajskub showed up unannounced to do her stand-up routine. You never know who you might see.
For most of the events at SXSW, registration or tickets are required. But there are also many free things to do, especially in the music area. You can find out online about free events, the complete schedule, and details about attending the conference.
And, if you are a Trekkie, you’ll be glad to know that William Shatner will be there.