The Dentonite at SXSW Recap

Austin opened their arms and welcomed Dentonites for the 2018 South By Southwest festival held March 9-18 scattered throughout downtown ol' Austin, Texas. This year, not only did Denton show up, Denton shined.

Discover Denton (Denton CVB) sponsored a music showcase that had lines out of the door all night and representatives from the city of Denton Economic Development Department and Stoke Denton prowled the Accelerator Pitch event (where 600+ entrepreneurs pitch their idea) for business and investment opportunities for the City of Denton. 

On the first night in Austin, The Dentonite was offered a special media preview of HBO's Westworld live activation on Thursday, the night before it opened to the public. Public tickets had been sold out for weeks, so needless to say, the excitement and expectaions were high. 

The event started when you arrived at the meeting place (a bar near downtown) where you were checked in and told to go to the roof. There waiting was a replica of Mesa Gold Station full of guests, free alcohol and food. There was a table where you could choose a white or black hat to wear throughout the event and keep after. 

After awhile, we were told to board Westworld wrapped shuttles where we were transported about 30 minutes north to a plot of land the HBO team had turned into a real-life Westworld. Complete with gun fights, bourbon, hookers and hidden clues, this event lived up to every expectation and more.  

The next day was spent hitting as many pop-up events as possible. The Dentonite was truly impressed with the lengths brands went to to make sure their interactive event was u n i q u e. 

Free food. Free alcohol. Photo booths. Puppies. Baby goats. Swag. Swag. Swag. Oh, and Bumble was coming in clutch tweaking people's dating profile bios. 

Needless to say, sensory overload and marketing campaigns on steroids run ramped at SXSW, which led to some of the more educational aspects of the fest.  

The next day, our Managing Editor, Kristen Watson, ran into Dentonites from the Denton CVB while waiting in line for a coding class from General Assembly. 

The rest of the day was filled with speeches you had to wait in endless lines for. Like seriously, bring a book. 

First up, was author and writer Ta-Nehishi Coates on journalism in the age of Trump. He spoke on his expereince writing on Trump for The Atlantic as well as one of his latest projects, writing the newest Black Panther comics.

After Coates speech, the creators and cast of Westworld took the main stage at the Austin Convention Center to discuss filming season two.

Then...they dropped a sneak peak. (Sorry, they asked us not to share it and we're going to respect that.) THEN...Elon Musk showed up.

He talked a little about his vision for the future and showed a video reel featuring the latest SpaceX launch created by Westworld creator, Jonathan Nolan. 

Later, storytelling-guru, Ira Glass, the creator of This American Life took the stage to speak about storytelling and how he accidentily created the "most popular podcast in America."

Probably the coolest thing we weaseled our way in to was the Ready Player One world premiere at the Paramount Theatre. Waited in line for 3+ hours and had to sit with camera bags squishing our feet, but it was all worth it when the director, Steven Spielberg came on stage to introduce the film. 

After the film ended, Spielberg and the cast came back on stage for a Q&A with the audience. 

The next morning, the city was woken to news alerts of the second (then third) package bombing in Austin since March began. Despite the proximity, the festival went on without many noticeable changes, other than attendees discussing bombs in between sessions or sets. 

Despite the tragic events in other parts of the city, the mood downtown stayed light and full of energy. On Tuesday, March 12, Discover Denton held their music showcase at The Sidewinder. Staff pulled together a diverse lineup of artists from Denton to showcase the city's talent to Austin. 

The line was out of the door most of the night with the venue at capacity several times during the night. People walking by on the street were lulled by the music pouring out of The Sidewinder's doors and made sure the crowed stayed packed. 

The lineup included LeoncarloHarry ZimmTOMKATWesley Jensen & The Penny ArcadeKaela SinclairPearl Earl and Josh T. Pearson.

The Austin Chronicle seemed to like it too.

Other Denton artists like Bonnie Whitmore & Her Band, Troy Garrick and Kate Auringer took SXSW stages throughout the week. 

There will likely be another Denton music showcase at the festival next year...who wants to take bets on who will get the slots? 

If you feel like you missed out, don't fret. The Dentonite has you covered with a killer Spotify playlist featuring the Denton artists that performed at the fest, we gathered some of the videoed speeches from the conference that we really enjoyed and we have some photo and video content that will appear on the site and below as it is done.


Check out The Dentonite's 2018 SXSW Photo Set here.


Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic and Black Panther Comics) and Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic) 

Melinda Gates (Gates Foundation)

Beto O'Rourke (2018 Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas

U-God (Wu-Tang Clan)

Jake Tapper (CNN) and Bernie Sanders (Junior United States Senator from Vermont since 2007 and 2016 democratic candidate for President)

Elon Musk (Tesla/SpaceX)