Tag Archives: paramount theater

Moontower > ACL + SXSW

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Austinites have a love-hate relationship with festivals. Most people who live here hate them because they don’t attend them, and it causes traffic problems and closes roads, and denies them access to their own city. A smaller percentage attends the festival, and either has a great time or has a terrible experience.

After living in Austin the last four years, I finally understand all of these perspectives. I attended ACL last year (I’ll make a post about that another time), and got very ill from being caught in the rain. I will never attend ACL again. Okay, maybe for one day if a band I really like is playing. I would rather watch the livestream, thanks!

SXSW is a hassle. I can’t get time off during SXSW because it’s busy season at my office. If I do get a day off, it’s a pain to take the bus downtown, fight the crowds, look out for drunk bros and drunk basic bitches and keep my sanity. Because SXSW is held during spring break, I’d say over half of the crowd is just there to scam free booze and food, and doesn’t care about the music. I’m a serious music fan and it drives me nuts when people are chatting during a show.  It’s already a huge problem in Austin, but is 100 times worse during SXSW. I might not even do SXSW at all next year, or if I do, I’ll keep away from the 6th Street, Rainey Street and Red River areas.

Moontower Comedy Festival is the BEST festival in Austin, hands down. Maybe it’s because this was only the third year of the festival, so it hasn’t been overrun by giant Doritos vending machines, drunk frat boys and sorority girls, and people who are only there to be seen. I’ve been to Moontower every year, but this was the first year I had a badge.

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 I’d never pony up the money for a SXSW badge. There’s so many free parties, it’s not worth it. The Moontower ACE badge is totally worth it. Not only can you attend any of the comedy shows around town for free, you get tickets for four shows at the Paramount. The cost of four shows at the Paramount is more than the price of the badge, so you’re already ahead. The best part of the Moontower badge is that YOU GET FREE PARKING DOWNTOWN. That’s right – free parking. FREE PARKING! For four nights! What is this madness?

At ACL, I walked two miles to my car in the rain and got sick. At SXSW, I took the bus and had to wait in the rain (it only rains during festivals) for the bus. Free parking is like a golden ticket.

Even if I had to pay for parking, it wouldn’t matter. Moontower is still the best! I saw over 30 comedians in four days. When I went to ACL, I think I saw less than 10 bands in two days (it was rained out for the third day). I got to sit down and enjoy the shows at Moontower in air conditioned bars. At ACL, it was so hot we didn’t even go until evening. At Moontower, I was handed a ticket to see four headliners, and was given orchestra seating without waiting in line. At ACL, if I wanted a good spot for the headliner, I had to get there an hour early and ended up missing other bands I wanted to see.

Kids in the Hall wear wedding dresses

 The vibe at Moontower is really laid back. I was walking around downtown and spotted Bruce and Scott from Kids in the Hall, enjoying themselves and not being bothered by fans too much. I went to get a burger at Wholly Cow and ended up seeing Mark and Dave from KITH, as well as Brody Stevens. I almost had a nervous breakdown but they did end up taking a photo with me, and they were really nice. No one is rolling VIP (or even VVIP) with an entourage at Moontower.

The quality of the entertainment was amazing. I laughed so hard that my ribs actually ached for a couple of days afterward. Some of  the shows I saw were Kids in the Hall, Maria Bamford, Hannibal Buress, Andy Kindler, Brody Stevens, James Adomian, Rory Scovel, Bobcat Goldthwait, Ari Shaffir, and on and on and on! The most unique act that I saw was Puddles the Pity Party Clown. You’ve just gotta see it to believe it, so I’m adding a You Tube clip at the end of this post. If you see Puddles around, give him a hug. He’s a good hugger.

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I will definitely be attending Moontower next year. A wonderful experience from start to finish.(And no, this is not a paid endorsement!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SXSW, badgeless and carefree

On Sunday, I ventured to downtown Austin for SXSWi. The last time I attended SXSW was in 2008 – I didn’t live here, and I had a badge. This was a whole new experience since I now live in Austin and had absolutely no badge and no wristband. I had goals for the day, but was pretty sure I wouldn’t get into anything I wanted to see. I was really worried about parking and traffic, so I left very early. Despite losing an hour’s sleep (Thanks, Ben Franklin!), I arrived downtown by 1030am.

There was no traffic, and parking was a breeze. I’m sure it would have been a different story if I hadn’t been such an early bird, but it was a relief for me, because I am a humungous worry-wart.

I do have to say that if I didn’t have Twitter, I wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun as I did today. Thanks to Twitter, I found out where all of the free food was, and some cool tips. If you’re at an event like SXSW which has literally thousands of events, parties and random happenings going on then you need to do some social networking and research before you get there. I know that there are a lot of anti-Twitter curmudgeons out there (and believe me, I was one of the WORST for a long time), but it is very useful in these types of situations.

I headed to the Convention Center first to have a look around. It turns out that the trade show was not open today (it opens Monday), so there wasn’t much else for someone without a badge to do. There were a few lounges and some food and merch booths, but I was looking for free swag. I will have to try again next weekend.

It was lunch time, so I tried to find the food trucks I had read about on Twitter. First place I went was the Squarespace booth a few blocks away. They were rumored to be giving away the legendary Franklin’s BBQ for FREE and I didn’t want to miss out. While I waited in line, a lady from Squarespace went through the line asking to see badges. Yup, you could only get free noms if you had a badge. I was extremely disappointed. I will have to try Franklin’s another day.

Luckily, just a couple of blocks away, Short Bus Subs was giving away free grilled cheese sandwiches. Free for all takers, badge or no badge! Once I had my sandwich I felt much better and the sting of rejection at mean old Squarespace had faded.

My next stop was the Foodspotting Blackberry party. Yes, I have a Blackberry phone. I used to have an iPhone but I just couldn’t stomach paying $105 a month for the service when I could get a Blackberry from Virgin for $35 a month. Now that I have moved to Austin and taken a huge pay cut, every penny counts.  I am pretty happy with my Blackberry, mostly because of the keyboard. I am not sure I would ever want to go back to a touchpad keyboard.

Anyway, I digress…the Blackberry party was really great. It was at 2nd and Brazos if you feel like going there yourself. Even if you don’t have a Blackberry, there are tons of great food trucks there. Old School BBQ, Hey Cupcake!, an espresso truck, Korean BBQ tacos, and more more more! I got a snack and watched people hula-hooping to win some free Peeps.

I didn’t want to miss the Foursquare booth, because I heard that you could actually play foursquare there and I wanted to see what was up. It’s true, there were people playing foursquare, along with ping pong tables, foosball tables, free food (I didn’t get the grilled corn because it gets stuck in my teeth like crazy), free Pepsi Max, and lounges. I heard a rumor that later this week Mayer Hawthorne and Snoop Dogg will be playing there. I am not sure where they will play, but the space is very small and so my hopes of seeing those shows are pretty much dashed.

I had wasted enough time. I needed to get in line to see the new Conan O’Brien documentary, which was having its “galactic premiere” at SXSW. Conan himself was rumored to be in attendance, and there was no way I wanted to miss that. Yes, I’m one of those Team Coco people. I bleed orange for him! (Not for the Longhorns!)

There were two lines – one for badges, and one for peons who had to pay cash to get in. I got in line with the peons and began my wait. It was an hour until the movie was supposed to start, and I was lucky to be very close to the front of the line. I always enjoy waiting in long lines in Austin, because inevitably I either meet new friends, or at the very least I have a good conversation.  The people in line ahead of me turned out to be really nice. They were all from Arizona, except for one guy who turned out to be someone I followed on Twitter for advice on how to get into stuff for free.  (You can find him at @wristbandless)  It’s a small world at SXSW! 

We made friendly conversation while waiting in line, and we were wondering if we’d really get into the movie. We kept an eye out to see how many badgeholders were in line, but it was hard to tell. We thought the line had made a circle all the way around the building but it turned out to be a group of journalists and photographers. There was also a red carpet in front of the theater, but I didn’t realize that until later.

Suddenly my companions and I were startled by the man himself! Conan! Walking right by us! We all reacted in various horrible ways – I screamed “Coco!”, my Twitter compatriot just stared and pointed, and my fellow Arizonans were stunned into silence. I think all of us had dropped our jaws in surprise. No, it was not our finest moment, but it made our day. Conan gave us a nod and made his way to the red carpet. I knew then that we just had to get into the movie, it was a good omen.

The moment of truth arrived, and we made it in! Yes, we were all sitting way up in the balcony but who cares? We not only got into the movie, we got to see a Q&A from the director and Conan, and we also got a smile and a nod from Coco himself!

As far as the documentary itself, it is a must-see for all Coco fans. It showed Conan at his darkest during the whole NBC disaster last year, as well as fun moments on the road during his tour. If you’re not a huge Conan fan, you probably wouldn’t enjoy it that much. It’s very “inside baseball”. However, those of you who really love Coco need to see Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop if you get the chance. I’m not sure if it will be showing nationally in theaters, but I bet it will show up on Netflix eventually.

I had accomplished my goals for the day. I had to head home and get ready for a new work week. I’m sure I’ll be dreaming of gangly redheads tonight.

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