Every year, SXSW never ceases to overwhelm Austin with thousands of artists from all over the world, countless panels and arguably the craziest crowds Austin has ever seen. To commemorate the end of the festival, ORANGE has compiled a top 10 list of our favorite SXSW 2016 moments.
Story by Rochelle Friedewald
Obama Kicks Off the Fest by Stopping at Torchy’s
After landing at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport, our commander in chief’s first stop was a local favorite: Torchy’s Tacos. The president ordered a Democrat, an Independent and a Republican to “keep things fair.” His keynote speech, which was the first appearance of a president at SXSW, kicked off the festival and left the audience chanting “four more years.”
Jazz Cartier Defies Gravity at Every Set He Played
SXSW is known for crazy, uncontrollable shows, and last week, Jazz Cartier lived up to the hype. During his performances at FADER Fort and House of Vans, our (second) favorite artist from Toronto walked across the crowd using the audience’s hands to prop himself up while performing his song “New Religion.” His antics didn’t stop there — during his set at Illmore on Thursday, Jazz climbed on top of the crowd and began swinging from the ceiling fans.
Michelle Obama’s Keynote
In addition to her husband’s record-breaking appearance, Michelle Obama hosted her “Let Girls Learn” keynote on Wednesday with female musicians including Queen Latifah and Missy Elliot. The best moment came when Missy and Michelle spoke about the hardships they encountered as young girls, and how each challenge shaped them into the badass women they are today. Missy mentioned how her mother dealt with a physically abusive relationship, while Michelle talked about being an ambitious black woman growing up in a rough neighborhood.
DJ Khaled Snapchats his Way Through Austin
They don’t want you to be invited to exclusive parties, but DJ Khaled definitely does. After posting details for a secret Calvin Klein party on his Snapchat story, fans flocked to the Urban Outfitters on Guadalupe Street with hopes of meeting the rap star. Of course, Khaled detailed every moment of the impromptu meet-up on another 100-second Snapchat story.
Rae Sremmurd Endorses Bernie Sanders
This duo was everywhere at SXSW, but between bouncing around from multiple surprise guest appearances and their own Bud Light showcase, their most memorable moment came when the music stopped. Halfway through their performance of their no. 1 hit “Up Like Trump” at FADER Fort, Swae Lee interrupted the track, and shouted “F*ck Donald Trump. We’re voting for Bernie Sanders.”
Ellen Page and Gaycation
If you don’t already love Ellen Page from her slushie-drinking Juno years, her panel discussion on her new Viceland project will make you think again. After coming out as a lesbian in 2014, she was determined to make a difference in an industry that "places crushing standards on all of us.” Page teamed up with director Spike Jonze to create “Gaycation,” a series that examines the LGBTQ community in different cultures. The actress stressed how important LGBTQ visibility in media is, reminding us that “we can’t just be telling the stories of one group of people.”
Young Thug's Funeral Procession on Sixth Street
After Young Thug’s exclusive Calvin Klein appearance on Thursday night, the rapper decided to move the party downtown. He responded to the buzz surrounding the release date of his new album, Slime Season 3, in the most flamboyant and creepy way possible— a funeral procession down Sixth Street. Curious onlookers watched as a black coffin with the date March 23, 2016 written on it in blood red ink made its way downtown with a marching band.
Online Harassment Summit with Wendy Davis
Not all of the best SXSW moments included a large spectacle. Away from all the crazy shows and exclusive parties, former state senator Wendy Davis spoke about the sexism she experienced while running for governor of Texas in 2014. When asked about Trump’s comments about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, Davis said, "We women are particularly programmed not to play victim when we're at the receiving end of something like that. But let's all decide and agree that it's not playing victim to call it when it happens."
Waves of Nostalgia
Although this isn’t one particular moment, all the throwbacks at SXSW were enjoyable. From Third Eye Blind performing “Jumper” on the roof at Whole Foods to Iggy Pop to Deftones covering “Hotline Bling,” this year’s fest was filled with the artists we grew up listening to and are glad to be reminded of.
Drake’s surprise appearance at FADER Fort
After weeks of speculation and a series of cryptic tweets, it happened. The 6 God had a surprise appearance at FADER Fort on Saturday to close out the festival. Not only did our favorite Toronto rapper perform fan favorites like “Big Rings,” “Know Yourself” and “Jumpman,” he officially announced that his much anticipated new album, “Views from the 6,” is set to drop next month.