Culture / Entertainment

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Big Talk, Boyz II Men’s Big Surprise and Game of Thrones’ Big Maze at SXSW

The Craziest Parties, Most Magical Music and Wildest Celebrity Moments of SXSW

BY // 03.12.19

AUSTIN —  The party madness and the tekkie excitement is heading into overdrive. The 10-day SXSW celebration of all things on the edge and of the moment launched over the weekend. It was a rollicking start for the 400,000 or so ambitious and talented tech junkies, movie dreamers, partygoers and stylish intellectuals who have descended on Texas’ capital of cool.

PaperCity is on the ground in Austin, checking out the best of the 3,000 events; seeking out celebrities, noteworthy intellectuals and entrepreneurs; and trying out the latest and greatest from the tech companies making headlines. Already, the undercurrent of innovation at SXSW is palpable throughout Austin with speakers, film premiers, concerts, product launches and activations running the gamut of the latest and greatest in every industry.

SXSW Party Fever

The first few days of the festival played host to a packed calendar of celebrations and swanky parties ringing in this iteration of South by Southwest. Hotel Saint Cecilia, the exclusive Austin hotspot, hosted the launch party of Sol Society, a newly formed travel experience curation company. Rising Houston artist Reagan Corbett was there with her new collection of hand painted denim jackets alongside stylish boot brand City Boots founder Lizzie Chestnut, another Texan entrepreneur.

Pershing House, another mecca for creatives, was home to House of L Pop Up. Throughout the weekend, the art curation and events brand hosted three days of art experiences displaying works by Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, Mr. Brainwash,  Bob Schneider and many more. With artist talks and creative sessions, this brought the SXSW contemporary art scene to a whole new level.

sxsw house of l-04657 House of L Pershing House
Pershing House played host to a week of fabulous art.

The creative mavens behind Create and Cultivate once again hosted an inspiring day of panels by powerful people who are making waves in their industry. With panelists such as Camilla Alves McConaughey, actress Natasha Lyonne and style guru Tan France from Queer Eye, the lines down the block to get in were a sure sign of success following the celebratory kickoff of the Mastercard Women’s Business Advisory Council partnership event.

Thrones Fever

In a world where experiential marketing reigns, SXSW is a hotbed of activations and immersive experiences that transport the audience to places beyond Downtown Austin. Major companies swoop in to create the most jaw dropping and eye catching environments to keep us talking all year long.

Perhaps the most buzzy of them all was the Game of Thrones immersive experience. HBO’s powerhouse drama teamed up with the American Red Cross to launch its Bleed for the Thrones Blood Drive. After giving blood in support of the global blood shortage, fans of the fantastical show were led through a maze of actors, convincing props and choir performances replicating the show. Devotees didn’t bat an eye when shedding their blood for The Throne.

In traditional Bumble form, the dating app superstars unveiled their takeover of popular coffee spot Jo’s for a temporary SXSW Bumble Hive. The yellow clad, instagramable house of women’s empowerment celebrated International Women’s Day with performances by up and coming female artists.

Live Music

With Austin being the live music capital of the world and SXSW being the music festival powerhouse for up and coming artists, the concerts that span the festival are incredible. In a surprise to many,  Boyz II Men blew the roof of the Paramount Theatre following the premier of Long Shot, Charlize Theron and Seth Rogan’s new romantic comedy.

The band makes a cameo at the beginning of the film so it was only fitting for them to entertain premiere-goers in person with songs like “Motownphilly” and “I’ll Make Love to You.”

Following last year’s hit performance by Ludacris, Vevo House continued the theme of star rappers with a stellar performance from Nelly. The musician belted out his hits such as “Air Force Ones” and “Country Grammar” to a rowdy crowd at Pelon’s Tex Mex Cantina.


SXSW has become a strong platform for inspiring sessions on political issues and global change initiatives. Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren stated her case for breaking up big tech companies like Amazon, ironically in one of the world’s largest gatherings for tech titans. Then again, it wouldn’t be SXSW without a little healthy, intellectual debating.

In a more cheeky poke at political fun, Trevor Noah and The Daily Show‘s presented a pop-up of the Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library. The event skewers the Commander in Chief’s preferred vessel for communicating with the public, his Twitter feed. It’s an opportunity to revisit the many “unpresidented” moments of President Trump’s Twitter history.

Newly crowned, up and coming star of the Democratic party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, made quite a splash at her debut SXSW trip. Before attending a star studded movie premier, the politician spoke on climate change and the American economy while a surprise guest, Bill Nye the Science Guy, wowed the audience with his supportive presence.

Celebrity Moments

The celeb sightings are endless throughout the fest, as impromptu and organized moments with stars go down regularly. For example, Oscar winner Jordan Peele and the cast of his new movie Us , which premiered on opening night, were spotted at the Twitter House on Rainey Street, laughing away in a panel discussion of the movie. Olivia Wilde, making her directorial debut with her film Booksmart, was serenaded by her team and the audience with cake celebrating her birthday.

There is nothing better than a SXSW birthday party.

If this is only day four, we are in for a wild ride the rest of the week.

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