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SXSW 2014 in Review: The Biggest News and Craziest Moments From Austin

posted by Dan Murphy on March 17, 2014

Mugshot via Austin Police Department; Tyler, the Creator Before the Riot by Ariel LeBeau for Fuse

Austin, Texas -- Sunday marked the end of the 2014 edition of SXSW. It was a pretty crazy week, so we compiled the biggest news stories and craziest moments from Austin - from tragedy to jaw-dropping collaborations with a healthy dose of controversy.

Tyler, The Creator Arrested for Inciting a Riot


Odd Future leader Tyler, The Creator was arrested at the Austin-Bergstrom Airport on Saturday. The Austin police say that he "encouraged behavior causing an immediate danger and injury to persons." The event in question took place at Tyler's headlining show at Converse and Thrasher Magazine's Death Match showcase, where he advised the crowd outside the gate to push their way in, eventually leading a chant of "Push, push, push." When the crowd rushed past security, the show was temporarily stopped before the venue turned the sound back on and allowed him to finish his set. His bail was set at $25,000 and the Austin Police Department has charged him with a Class A misdemeanor. You can see his mugshot pictured above. 

Damon Albarn Performs with Snoop Dogg, Gorillaz Collaborators


Damon Albarn headlined Friday night's FADER FORT showcase, mainly performing new songs from his upcoming solo LP Everyday Robots. In a surprising twist halfway through the set, Albarn brought on De La Soul to play the 2005 Demon Days hit, "Feel Good Inc." At the end of the set, he introduced the final song saying, "This is the first time this song has been performed in its purest form. We've never performed it together and we may never again." He then invited original "Clint Eastwood" MC Del tha Funkee Homosapien to the stage with producer Dan the Automator and played the introductory melodica line of the track. After the original verses were over, Albarn then called for Snoop Dogg to come onto the already crowded stage to perform another verse. 

Lady Gaga Lets Artist to Vomit on Her During Set



During her set at the Doritos Bold Stage, Lady Gaga, while riding a mechanical pig, was joined on stage by "vomit artist" Millie Brown who proceeded to puke a green substance on Gaga's torso. Gaga was later attached to a rotating spit over a fire. The performance was soon decried by Demi Lovato via Twitter as "glamourising eating disorders." Brown responded saying, "I believe in absolute freedom of expression. Challenging perceptions of art & beauty. If art is your communication, it should not be censored." Gaga also served as a keynote speaker at SXSW this year, where she encouraged labels to foster creativity and originality in their artists while defending her corporate-sponsored concert that some argue alienated festivalgoers. According to Gaga, detractors "didn't know shit about the state of the music industry." Speaking of corporate sponsors...

Corporations Bring Major Label Acts to SXSW


Via Rick Kern/Getty Images for Samsung

One of the defining features of last week in Austin was the corporate influence in SXSW. Apple announced weeks before that the first iTunes Festival to take place on US soil would occur during SXSW and would be open to badge and wristband-holders. The five-day showcase featured such big names as Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Soundgarden, Keith Urban, and Pitbull. As mentioned before, Lady Gaga came to Austin to perform at the Doritos Bold Stage. Samsung also revealed just before SXSW began that they would be hosting the Galaxy Series, a weeklong set of shows beginning with a performance from Kanye West & Jay Z with Janelle Monae, Gary Clarke Jr., and Broken Bells performing later in the week. These additions, which have faced some criticism, are part of a growing trend at SXSW in recent years to include corporate sponsors and major label acts. Oh, yeah...

Justin Bieber Shows Up


 Via Op and Buffalo David Bitton

Justin Bieber performed two songs at a Sunday showcase kicking off the music week, because, you know, "Keep Austin Weird" and whatnot. He dedicated one tune to Selena Gomez who apparently was backstage. A selfie from journalist María Núñez sums up the feeling about this impromptu appearance from the pop star. 

Jimmy Kimmel Punks Festivalgoers


Jimmy Kimmel hit Coachella in 2013 to get opinions from attendees on bands that didn't exist. He tried it again at SXSW this year and got similar results, thus giving your crappy uncle ammo for hipster stereotypes to flaunt at the next family party. Best fake band names: Neil Patrick Harassment, Straight Outta Parks Slope: Hannah and the Baby Bjorns, and country rap artist Willie Nelson Mandela, plus wonderful Game of Thrones references. 

Drunk Driver Kills 3, Injures 22


Via Ariel Zambelich for WIRED

Unfortunately, the biggest story from SXSW this year was one of tragedy. A drunk driver, identified as Rashad Owens, drove through a temporary street barricade in the heart of the festival in order to avoid being pulled over. He hit pedestrians, a moped, a taxi, and a van before getting out of his car and attempting to flee on foot at which point a pursuing police officer tasered him. A passenger on the moped and two pedestrians were killed. Owens was set to perform at SXSW under his rap stage name KillingAllBeatz. The Austin Community Foundation has set up a charity called SXSW Cares whose funds will be distributed among the victims with any remainders set aside to be used in the event of another accident. Read more on the incident in an article from Thursday morning.

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