SO FRESH AND SO CLEAN
The under-the-radar events and entertainment keeping SXSW from feeling stale
Big-budget activations for Westworld and Ready Player One are earning ample attention at SXSW this year (more on that later this week), but under-the-radar events and entertainment have proven worthy of a trip off of Austin’s beaten path, bringing a level of authenticity to the festival that keeps it from feeling overly branded and bland. These highlights didn’t disappoint.
NACH X NACHWEST
Brandathon founder ZeShan Malik and Sir Kensington’s Scott Norton, whose condiments company was acquired by Unilever in 2017, hosted a nacho-themed event that blended snacking and social activism. Dubbed Nach X Nachwest, the evening united a diverse group of young leaders to discuss Business for Good strategies in 2018 over a spirited nacho-making session. The event, in partnership with Latitude, was a special edition of the Nacho Knights gatherings, a two-year-old series that brings together strangers for heartfelt and vulnerable conversations around misogyny, racism, politics and religion—difficult topics tempered by the act of collaborative cooking.
Arthouse horror is experiencing a renaissance, and The Head is a unique take on the genre from Ricky Fosheim of Detention Films and cinematographer Kevin Stewart, Director of Photography for Blumhouse’s latest thriller Unfriended: Dark Web, which premiered on opening night at the festival. The filmmakers offered select viewers a sneak peak of the visually stunning work, a single-character film that follows a medieval warrior seeking revenge against a creature that took his daughter’s life—think Game of Thrones meets The Witch.
SMOKE AND DENIM
Paige and Don Julio brought this laid-back affair to life away from the convention center crowds at Jacoby’s, where the emphasis on bonding over branding made it feel more like an elevated backyard BBQ than a stiff corporate activation. Coupled with custom denim embroidery, local performers, and epic #EEEEEATS from The Infatuation, and Smoke and Denim is a great example of how brands can pull off a SXSW event that feels authentically Austin.