I know what you’re thinking: but this is a music fest? Yes, it is that, too. It started as that and evolved into what is today, the place where all the innovators in music, film, tech come to show us what devices they’ve built, what scifi ideas they’ve brought into reality, and how music can transport you into the realm of sleep and recovery as collaborations between artists and corporations bring music innovation forward.
Here are a few of the things still sticking in our heads and the ones that make the most impact when we re-tell the events at SXSW. One of them is the hologram. Yes, I have a hologram of myself. And soon, so can you. And then the 8.5 hour overnight concert where I slept on stage with my other 149 fellow concert-goers, and then seeing Elon Musk put on a cowboy hat and sing while he tells us about the impending world domination and human extinction at the hands of A.I..
Speaking about my hologram, I walked into this random bar, at the end of the daily events, and got pulled into a line. The line led to this “stage” with about 4 cameras pointed at you. People were dancing in front of it, some were twirling, it was fun just people watching.
I did my awkward “dancing by myself in front of strangers” dance, and at the end they hand me this kit. All of the bits go on top of your phone. They send you a link to your hologram. It’s basically a video of yourself, filmed from 4 different angles. Brace yourself for the result. It’s not like the Sphero BB8 hologram that you can only see if you’re holding and looking at it on your phone. This hologram of mine was floating above the phone. You and I can both see it. It’s a cool party trick and I’ve shown it to a few of my friends already.
You can check out the slightly embarrassing, and very human video here. You’ll not be able to see the hologram unless you have the pyramid thing that comes with, but at least you’ll get the idea.
This event and the hologram party was presented by the ANA Avatar XPrize team led by founder Dr. Peter Diamandis. Check out his keynote at SXSW below.
Another highly innovative session, if you want to call it that, was the collaboration between Max Richter, composer extraordinaire, and Beautyrest. Max Richter’s Sleep concert, presented in a N. American premiere at SXSW, was the most memorable concert experience of my life. Between the music that was presented live, with a small orchestra, a couple of highly ethereal vocalists, and Max Richter arranging it all live from the middle of this massive concert stage in Austin, to the Beautyrest beds that my fellow 149 concert goers got to enjoy for the 8+ hour overnight concert, this was unmistakably the most innovative music thing at SXSW this year. And did I mention the beds? Yes, the beds were comfortable and after the concert, Beautyrest donated them to the local shelters. Love this partnership between creator and enterprise. It created a beautiful, memorable and impactful event with large reverberations into the local community.
As a last minute surprise, SXSW announces a session with Elon Musk! Of course we got tickets as fast as we could! And it was worth the long walk from the main SXSW venues, it was worth the time spent walking around this building to get in. It was worth all of that and more. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, SpaceX, and one of the original founders of Paypal, is an unavoidable force in our world. A visionary! But more than that, he’s a doer! He’s always asked himself, and his team, why not! Yes, it’s the typical startup mentality, but at the same time, this guy can push that past any limits that most people can. His drive is contagious, and all I wanted was to join SpaceX and Tesla and SolarCity and the Boring Company, and any other company and endeavor he plans to start. He lives at the edge of future/scifi/reality, and he sends down a gospel to be followed if we’re to still have a livable planet, or assure that humanity has a future. Yes, he’s a bit prejudiced against A.I., but not because of A.I., but because how we, humans, are building A.I.s. His thoughts on this are that we’re not ready yet, not yet equipped with what it takes to build an A.I. that won’t wont to enslave or kills us all and take over the world.
Long story short, between the latest generation computers, to Star Trek like holograms, to Elon Must singing on stage and then speaking about the end of humanity at the hand of A.I., SXSW is the only true not to miss festival/conference of the year in the U.S.
We’re excited about going next year. Hope to see you there.
Text: TBM4W Editorial Team