The 10 Best Things About Being Immersed in SXSW in 2015

April 17, 2015

Barry Taylor, Nate Risdon, and a group of Fuller students recently returned from the 2015 South by Southwest Music Festival. Below, Nate Risdon shares ten highlights from 2015's Immersion class. A few of the students in the class wrote reviews of the concerts they attended as well, and we'll be sharing those reviews in the coming weeks.

Additionally, we're excited to announce an expansion of our Brehm Practicing Critic program. Since last summer, we've been piloting the program under the Reel Spirituality Initiative, providing a way for students and alumni to practice regularly the kind of theological criticism of movies they learn in class, but with editorial guidance and as part of a larger community of people also interested in this kind of public theology. We're now expanding the program to include music criticism as well. More details about this program including how to apply can be found here. - Editor

10. The Festival Itself

This festival is massive and messy. Thousands and thousands of people descend upon the city of Austin for SXSW. The swarms of people always on the move left me facilitating between feeling a great sense of connectedness and feeling alone. I watch these bands, especially those that are relatively unknown, scratching for some notoriety in the controlled "chaos" that is SXSW and I feel a great deal of love and empathy for them.

9. The City of Austin and its People

Despite us visitors causing horrible traffic, noise, and testing the limits of Austin's infrastructure and patience, the people of Austin are always so hospitable and lovely. It really can't be beat.

8. Concert: Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires at the Clive Bar

Charles Bradley is a singer who came to the fame relatively late in life, releasing his first album at the age of 63. Bradley seems plucked out the funk and soul era of the '60s and '70s channelling James Brown. He surprised everyone in the audience who were there mostly to see the act that followed him. His set was energetic and magnetic. There wasn't a person in the venue who wasn't moving to the music.

7. Concert: Milky Chance at the KCRW stage in the Convention Center

Milky Chance is this Reggae/Calypso-influenced trio from Kassel, Germany. They were a pleasant discovery for me. Granted they did have some buzz around them, but they really impressed most of the crowd with the infectious grooves and a singer with a pleasant albeit gravely delivery. The lyrics were incomprehsible and the venue was a bit sedate for their style and sound, but they made the most of it, jokingly comparing the hush of the crowd between songs to the atmosphere of quiet library. 

6. Hope Outdoor Gallery

This was a somewhat unplanned excursion we took as a class. The Hope Outdoor Gallery (HOG), founded by LA-based street artist Shepard Fairey, is a collection of concrete walls along a slopped hill in Austin re-purposed as a "paint park." HOG in partnership with SXSW had commissioned dozens of street artists from around the country to paint original works with positive messages during the festival. One of those commissioned artist is Seraphim, aka Sarah Ackerley. Sarah also happens to be currently studying at Fuller in the School of Theology. We visited her in the middle of her applying her work to her wall and had a lovely conversation with her about her work and street art in general. Some of the students even had the chance to create work on a "public" wall while we were there.

5. Concert: Hiatus Kaiyote at Blackheart

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Hiatus Kaiyote are a female-led quartet of delicious, polyrhythmic funk. We had the opportunity to see them two years ago in a small club, and they were very impressive then. Their ensemble then was slightly larger and had layer upon layer of complex rhythms and harmonies which at times worked against them as it sounded polyphonically messy. Hiatus has now paired down in size and tightened up their infectious grooves. Lead singer and co-songwriter Nai Palm was effervescent and engaging leading the crowd through multiple groove-infested dances with her melissmic vocal lines.

4. The Food

What can I say other than yum. Eating breakfast tacos, BBQ, unique food truck offerings, and Tex-Mex ain't a bad way to go through life, in moderation of course.


3. Concert: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes at Central Presybterian Church

I've been listening to this band for a few years now and have always wanted to see them live. They did not disappoint. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes are one-third musical genius, one-third hippie-commune influenced pageantry, and one-third hypnotically charismatic. The group lives, eats, and works together at a commune in the LA area. The character Edward Sharpe is the alter-ego of Alex Ebert and was created from a series of stories Ebert wrote about a pseudo-messianic figure while he was in rehab. They know how to work a crowd and have complex arrangements of their songs that illustrate the musicianship of each member of the group. It is really easy to imagine them jamming all night around a firepit some where in the hills surrounding LA, singing about love, love lost, and the constant yearning for some sort of transcendent experience.  It might have been the fact that this show was at a church, but everyone walked away feeling as if they had been to a tent revival plucked out of the late '60s, early '70s. 



Ibeyi #SXSW @central prez #fullersxsw

A video posted by @nrisdon on

2. Concert: Ibeyi at Central Presbyterian Church

This showcase was, by far, the musical highlight of my time at SXSW. Ibeyi means "twins" in Yoruba, a Nigerian language spoken by slaves when they were first brought to the island now known as Cuba. Ibeyi, the band, consists of French-Cuban twin sisters Naomi and Lisa Diaz. Their sound is the amazing blend of Afro-Cuban, French, Yoruban, and jazz influences. Playing traditional Cuban instruments such as the cajon and Bata drums with piano, the two sisters create a rich sound that seems nearly impossible. Perhaps it is because their shared DNA, but Naomi and Lisa's vocal harmonies are some of the tightest and flawless I have ever heard, and they sound effortless. To wrap up their set (far too quickly, in my opinion), they went completely off-mic and put down their instruments, singing accapella as they walked down the center aisle of the church into the audience.

1. Interaction with Students

Ultimately, this is what makes SXSW unique and worth it to me. Don't get me wrong, I love music, but our conversations during class, over meals, in line and walking the streets are what makes this course worth it all. I always learn so much more from the students over the course of this class. It reminds me why I love what I do and that I work for an institution that believes this type of immersive course is important.

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Callen Vivaan
02/21/2019 8:50am
Ohh, I completely agree with this list of 10 things. I read all about this music festival on rushmypapers, and it was an exciting piece to read about. I really wanted to go and attend this festival.
06/17/2019 12:14pm
Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.
06/19/2019 9:06am
There is so much in this article that I would never have thought of on my own. Your content gives readers things to think about in an interesting way. Thank you for your clear information. Click Here
06/22/2019 7:08am
Hello I am so delighted I located your blog, I really located you by mistake, while I was watching on google for something else, Anyways I am here now and could just like to say thank for a tremendous post and a all round entertaining website. Please do keep up the great work.
06/23/2019 12:22am
I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. Thanks...
06/26/2019 5:20am
Your content is nothing short of bright in many forms. I think this is friendly and eye-opening material. I have gotten so many ideas from your blog. Thank you so much.
Anna Sally
06/28/2019 12:10pm
Excellent website! I adore how it is easy on my eyes it is. I am questioning how I might be notified whenever a new post has been made. Looking for more new updates. Have a great day! Vladlen Stadler
07/01/2019 11:03am
Your blog is too much amazing. I have found with ease what I was looking. Moreover, the content quality is awesome. Thanks for the nudge!
07/09/2019 8:33am
It is my first visit to your blog, and I am very impressed with the articles that you serve. Give adequate knowledge for me. Thank you for sharing useful material. I will be back for the more great post.
Saqib 12
07/26/2019 10:53am
I am thankful to you for sharing this plethora of useful information. I found this resource utmost beneficial for me. Thanks a lot for hard work. Buy Instagram Followers
Saqib 12
08/01/2019 10:20am
Wow, What an Outstanding post. I found this too much informatics. It is what I was seeking for. I would like to recommend you that please keep sharing such type of info.If possible, Thanks. Buy Instagram Likes
hassan 1102
08/15/2019 4:52am
Wonderful article. Fascinating to read. I love to read such an excellent article. Thanks! It has made my task more and extra easy. Keep rocking.
Anna Sally
09/23/2019 8:20am
I have bookmarked your blog, the articles are way better than other similar blogs.. thanks for a great blog! same day loan lenders
Saqib 12
10/13/2019 1:04am
Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.
Anna Sally
11/02/2019 7:36am
I haven’t any word to appreciate this post.....Really i am impressed from this post....the person who create this post it was a great human..thanks for shared this with us. small group grand canyon tour
11/25/2019 8:39am
I can’t believe focusing long enough to research; much less write this kind of article. You’ve outdone yourself with this material without a doubt. It is one of the greatest contents.
11/30/2019 9:59pm
Recently, I have commenced a blog the info you give on this site has encouraged and benefited me hugely. Thanks for all of your time & work.
12/04/2019 6:54am
What a thrilling post, you have pointed out some excellent points, I as well believe this is a superb website. I have planned to visit it again and again.
12/05/2019 10:18am
Wow, this is fascinating reading. I am glad I found this and got to read it. Great job on this content. I liked it a lot. Thanks for the great and unique info. bandarq
02/10/2020 6:34am
This was really an interesting topic and I kinda agree with what you have mentioned here! Zonnepanelen
best CBD oil for pain
02/19/2020 2:01am
I know your aptitude on this. I should say we ought to have an online discourse on this. Composing just remarks will close the talk straight away! What's more, will confine the advantages from this data.  best CBD oil for pain
Anna Sally
03/13/2020 7:58am
I am incapable of reading articles online very often, but I’m happy I did today. It is very well written, and your points are well-expressed. I request you warmly, please, don’t ever stop writing. buying likes instagram
Anna Sally
03/30/2020 7:03am
Thanks for sharing this information. I really like your blog post very much. You have really shared a informative and interesting blog post with people.. smm panel
07/04/2020 6:46am
Thank you that is very helpful for me, as a new site has been inundated with comments that seem OK at first glance but then get repeated with a slight change of wording. I have something concrete to go on now and will delete quite a lot of them.Kibris bahis siteleri
07/09/2020 1:22am
Glad to be one of the visitors on this awe inspiring web site.
08/07/2020 11:39pm
I’m prompted while using the surpassing in addition to preachy checklist you give in such very little timing. walmartone wire

08/08/2020 1:55am
I have read all the comments and suggestions posted by the visitors for this article are very fine,We will wait for your next article so only.Thanks! walmart wire logn
11/20/2020 10:17am
Thank you because you have been willing to share information with us. we will always appreciate all you have done here because I know you are very concerned with our. flour strainer
Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

135 N Oakland Ave, Pasadena, CA 91182