© 2014 Ashley Landis South by Southwest (SXSW) is a yearly conference and festival held in Austin, Texas.

SXSW 2014

Whew!  I’m just now getting my head above water from a long week of SXSW music coverage!

Last week I spent Tues. – Sun. in down town Austin covering concerts and related events for the Austin American-Statesman, the Dallas Morning News and European Pressphoto Agency.

This was the largest, weirdest, most exciting and most challenging music festival I’ve ever covered.

When I think about SXSW 2014, I think about how I saw Slash with other famous guitar players and musicians performing a tribute to Jimi Hendrix, including his famous version of the national anthem.  Or how I was attacked by a giant inflatable duck, after being hit on by a pimp outside a rap/hip hop concert.  I think about the unknown artists and how passionately they convey their art, putting everything they have in to it.

I think about the long hours and short naps in the car, snacks at 4 a.m. while transferring files and trusting kind strangers to watch thousands of dollars of gear while I run to the restroom.  I think about walking around Sixth Street, capturing way better moments than I ever would have at a large concert venue, and sneaking on stage to get a better picture, hoping no one will notice that I’m there.

I think about the tragedy that happened this year that has resulted in three deaths and many lives changed forever.  I think about approaching loved ones as they mourn over something that should never happen at a festival that is supposed to be pure fun.

I have so many memories that I could share, but we’d be here all day!  Let’s focus on the pictures instead.

Music

We’ll start with the music.  Here are some of my favorites of the artists and their fans.

Amanda Carl of New York City plays keyboards with her band, Born Cages, at The Aquarium on Sixth during the 2014 SXSW music festival on Tues., March 11, 2014.
Ashley Landis for American-Statesman

Guitar player Slash performs on the Butler Park outdoor stage as part of a Jimi Hendrix musical tribute to celebrate the release of the US Postal Service’s Jimi Hendrix limited-edition postal stamp during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 13 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Hip hop artist ScHoolboy Q performs at Lustre Pearl in Austin, TX on Fri., March 14, 2014 during the SXSW music festival.
Ashley Landis for the Dallas Morning News

A fan swoons as hip hop artist ScHoolboy Q performs at Lustre Pearl in Austin, TX on Fri., March 14, 2014 during the SXSW music festival.
Ashley Landis for the Dallas Morning News

Houston, TX based rapper Riff Raff, second from left, and Gwinnett County, GA based hip hop band Migos perform at the Doritos’ Bold Stage during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 14 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

A giant inflatable duck is passed around by fans while Los Angeles hip hop band Far East Movement performs at the Doritos’ Bold Stage during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 14 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Nashville, TN based quintet Wild Cub performs at Stubb’s during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 14 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Nashville, TN based quintet Wild Cub performs at Stubb’s during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 14 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Bugs in the Dark of Brooklyn, NY perform at The Rooftop on Sixth during the 2014 SXSW music festival on Tues., March 11, 2014.
Ashley Landis for American-Statesman

Vintage Trouble lead singer Ty Taylor, right, and guitar player Wayne Kramer perform on the Butler Park outdoor stage as part of a Jimi Hendrix musical tribute to celebrate the release of the US Postal Service’s Jimi Hendrix limited-edition postal stamp during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 13 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Mingo Fishtrap of Austin, TX performs at 512 Rooftop during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 12 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Electronic music duo Sylvan Esso performs at Holy Mountain during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 12 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Machine Gun Kelly performs at 1100 Warehouse during the 2014 SXSW music festival on Tues., March 11, 2014.
Ashley Landis for American-Statesman

Mingo Fishtrap of Austin, TX performs at 512 Rooftop during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 12 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Street Features

Next up are my favorites, street features.  SXSW brings out some of the best street performers and general characters that Austin, and the world for that matter, have to offer.  It’s a people-watchers’ playground.

Kelsey Milan, left, and Angela Partin, right, both of Ft. Worth, ride a mechanical bull at The Trophy Room on Sixth Street in Austin, TX on Saturday, March 15, 2014 during the 2014 SXSW music festival.
Ashley Landis for the Dallas Morning News

A street musician plays a tambourine and a bass drum suitcase on Sixth Street during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 12 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Musicians Kimberlee Laske, left and DG, right, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 12 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Representatives from the internet social media service ROI KOI wear light-up globes on Sixth Street during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 12 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Street performer Joshua Rodriguez of Boston poses for a photo on Sixth Street in Austin, TX on Saturday, March 15, 2014 during the 2014 SXSW music festival.
Ashley Landis for the Dallas Morning News

SXSW attendees pass around a mic while drummer Zac Vangil, left, of Dallas performs on Sixth Street in Austin, TX on Saturday, March 15, 2014 during the 2014 SXSW music festival.  Vangil is part of the band Blox.
Ashley Landis for the Dallas Morning News

Brian Blumer rides on the shoulders of Wesley Sprague with the help of Patrick Evans, right, all of Toronto, Canada, as they walk down Sixth Street in Austin, TX on Saturday, March 15, 2014 during the 2014 SXSW music festival.
Ashley Landis for the Dallas Morning News

Latoya Govan, left, and Tanae Wright, right, both of San Antonio, decide where to go next on Sixth Street in Austin, TX on Saturday, March 15, 2014 during the 2014 SXSW music festival.
Ashley Landis for the Dallas Morning News

SXSW attendees fill Sixth Street in Austin, TX on Saturday, March 15, 2014 during the 2014 SXSW music festival.
Ashley Landis for the Dallas Morning News

The Crash

Last are the images that shouldn’t have been needed.  On Thurs., March 13 around 12:30 a.m., Rashad Charjuan Owens, 22, of Killeen drove his vehicle in to a crowd of people waiting outside the Mowhawk night club, injuring 23 and killing two.  Steven Craenmehr, 35, of The Netherlands and Jamie Ranae West, 27, of Austin were killed when the car collided with them in an intersection.  Craenmehr was on a bicycle and Ranae was on a moped with her husband, who is still hospitalized.  A third vicitim, Sandy Le, 26, died of her injuries on Mon., March 17.

I was down town that night.  I was even at the Mowhawk about an hour or so before the crash.  At the time of the crash, I was a few blocks away at Red 7, shooting an assignment for the Statesman.  I debated leaving the assignment and heading for the scene, but the reporter I was with and I knew that there were already people there covering it, so we remained at Red 7.  I shot what I needed and then left around 1:30 a.m., not knowing the severity of the situation.

I think that my choice not to go to the scene that night, even though my first instinct was to stop everything and start walking, was the right decision for me at the time.  The Statesman’s Jay Janner happened to be at the Mowhawk at the time of the crash, and I can’t think of a more capable photojournalist to document that situation.  I had already worked three very long days, and I had multiple clients counting on me for work that night.  I could have gone to the scene, but I would have missed much of the newsworthy moments due to timing and lack of access.  Also, these situations are delicate.  I don’t believe that running toward a traumatized crowd with cameras firing would have helped anything.

I still struggle with the decision to stay away, but in the end, I’m glad I did.

Anyway, the story didn’t stop that evening.  The next morning I visited the crash site and then attended a vigil at St. David’s Episcopal Church.  On Sun. I covered a memorial bike ride that began and ended at the Mowhawk.

Red River St. remains closed outside of The Mowhawk where motorist Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, of Killeen, TX collided with a bicycle and a moped, killing two people in the intersection of Red River St. and East 11th St. during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 13 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Green spray paint marks where motorist Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, of Killeen, TX collided with a bicycle and a moped, killing two people in the intersection of Red River St. and East 11th St. during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 13 March 2014
Ashley Landis/EPA

Dennis W. Jones of Austin, TX and his dog, Far Leo MD Shoreland, place flowers outside The Mowhawk near the site where motorist Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, of Killeen, TX collided with a bicycle and a moped, killing two people in the intersection of Red River St. and East 11th St. during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 13 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is interviewed by television media outside St. David’s Episcopal church after a vigil honoring victims of a vehicle-pedestrian accident during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 13 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

SXSW volunteer photographer Karla Reina of Austin sheds a tear amid television media outside St. David’s Episcopal church during a vigil honoring victims of a vehicle-pedestrian accident during the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, USA, 13 March 2014.
Ashley Landis/EPA

Garret Nick, left with hat, helps Bart Hendrikx of Amsterdam, Holland post a photo of his friend Steven Craenmehr during a memorial bike ride outside The Mowhawk on Sun., March 16, 2014 to honor the 23 injured and two killed when motorist Rashad Owens, 21, of Killeen drove in to a crowd of people on Red River St. on Thurs., March 13, 2014.
Ashley Landis for American-Statesman

Cyclists James Zapata, left, and Bob Smith, right, light candles after a memorial bike ride outside The Mowhawk on Sun., March 16, 2014 to honor the 23 injured and two killed when motorist Rashad Owens, 21, of Killeen drove in to a crowd of people on Red River St. on Thurs., March 13, 2014.  Moped driver Jamie West of Austin and cyclist Steven Craenmehr of the Netherlands were killed.
Ashley Landis for American-Statesman

Like I said, there was so much more that happened during that week than I could ever type here.  Click on the links below to see more of my photos from SXSW 2014.

Street features for the Dallas Morning News
General coverage for the Austin American-Statesman
General coverage for European Pressphoto Agency

One Comment

  1. Jeffrey Rosen
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 9:34 pm | #

    Saw that you had some great photos of Valerie June – color and black and white. I live in San Francisco, 54, see lots of shows and love to collect photos from those artists that capture those musicians that inspire me. I would love to see your Valerie June photos if you are amendable to selling a pic or two.

    Thanks,

    Jeffrey Rosen
    jdr@tailoredbenefits.com

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