@ZackTeibloom I had two must-see shows coming into SXSW. Tenacious D on Thursday night and Jack White headlining the Third Man showcase on Friday night. Yup, Jack Black and Jack White on consecutive nights. For the fourth year in a row, I had a wristband*, but I wasn’t getting into either of these shows without a badge.
I know all the venues in Austin quite well, but had never even heard of Haven. I found it at 11 p.m., after not too much wandering, and checked noticed there were two lines. There was a wristband line on the left of the door and a badge line to the right. Just as I walked up to the front door, I heard a door guy address the badge line, saying “If you are here to see Tenacious D, you are not getting in. We are at capacity. It’s one in, one out, and no one is leaving.” There was one group they were still letting in, however. The only group they were letting in was those with SXSW Express badges. These lucky bastards get to skip to the very front of the line, in front of regular badges. There were only four such people waiting to get in and I found myself with two express badge holders behind me and two in front of me. One of the guys behind me asked if he could stand in front of me, with his friends. I said, “Yeah, sure. I don’t have an express badge anyway.” A door guy heard me say that and seemed confused as he asked me, “Do you have a fast pass badge?” I said, “yeeeeesss…” in that trailing off way that means “nooooooo,” but that is one nice thing about SXSW. So many of these door guys are volunteers who really don’t know to actually check for the things they ask you for.
So I’m standing in this line to show a badge I don’t have, and notice there’s yet another line, inside the door to the left. I didn’t particularly care to find out what that line was for, but I’m assuming it was the guest list. It’s so much easier when two different lines funnel into the same end territory. If you hang around one line, look busy, and leave, the guards will assume you’ve just gotten checked off the guest list. I hung around the guest list for all of thirty seconds before casually walking up the stairs into the venue. The whole thing took less between five and ten minutes, but I wasn’t done there.
I walked in and noticed it was packed, so I bought a lone star at the bar and looked around the venue. I noticed a taped-off area to the right of the bar. I thought it was just a way to get to the right side and sneak a little closer, so I ducked under the tape. What I then realized, was that I was in the bottle service area. Everyone in there was dressed like they were going to a shitty night club, but they did have an awesome view. I felt super out of place, since I had cargo shorts with Doritos Loco stains and a t-shirt on w/ a zip-up draped over my shoulder, and these douches had ties on. A guard must have noticed how out of place I was, so she asked me if I was with “them,” signaling towards some bros. I nodded and she moved on. There was a booth right in front of the bottle service area, so I just sat down on that and found myself with a perfect elevated spot, 8 feet from the stage. It felt damn good to be crashing again, after having not even attempting one in 5 months, since the ACL fail. I needed the confidence booster for Friday night’s far more difficult Jack White crash.
*I got into one Drums show 20 minutes earlier than I would have because of the wristband. That was literally the only use I got out of it. Paying for (or working for) a badge is worth it to be able to go to the panels and go in and out of all venues with ease, but wristbands are useless. Never again.