South by Southwest, stylized SXSW, is a music, interactive media, film and episodic media festival that ran from March 7–16 in Austin, Texas, active for 27 years. This year, the festival was constantly trending on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
A drunk driver, Rashad Owens, killed four people in a reckless escapade, injuring 22 others in the process, as reported by the Washington Times. Some critics have raised the opinion that this tragedy might perhaps suggest that the festival has gotten too big to regulate and that more limits and regulations need to be enforced during the future of the SXSW festival.
Less tragic highlights touched upon by various news sources, such as the Los Angeles Times, included promotions for the hit TV show “Game of Thrones,” a trailer for the upcoming Godzilla movie, the virtual reality gaming device, the Oculus Rift (which would go on to be purchased by Facebook), and an exclusive performance of classic Hip Hop hits by Jay-Z and Kanye West.
The Guardian reported that Lady Gaga, a headliner, had a controversial performance where she was vomited on by one of her dancers. Ultimately, it was Odd Future rapper Tyler the Creator who garnered the most media coverage by getting arrested for inciting a riot during his performance at the festival when he encouraged the crowd to join him on stage.
SXSW has a reputation for being an event where new trends impacting the world are introduced. In 2011, various news sources covered the launch of popular social media site Foursquare from the festival, and this year, the most talked about technology showcase was the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that is predicted to play a huge role in the future of the gaming industry.
Shortly after the festival, new sites such as the Huffington Post were reporting on the unexpected acquisition of the Oculus Rift for the price of $2 billion. It is not a huge stretch to assume that this decision was related to the Oculus Rift’s success at SXWS.
If you’re interested in where popular culture is headed, this festival may be a good place to look in the future. What do you think of SXWS? Have you heard of it? Let us know at supicket.com or on twitter @SUPicket.