The 10 Biggest SXSW Fails Of 2016

Try as they might, no venue, show producer, panel manager, or police department is ever going to put on a perfect show with so many variables involved. This year’s SXSW, we saw some really brutal fails, but we also saw some more lighthearted moments. Either way, now that it’s over we can all look back and laugh… Or curse… About everything that went down in the middle of all the madness.

Here are the 10 most facepalm-worthy fails we encountered along the way.

10.) The failure to plan (AKA, “Thanks, Obama!”)

Traffic was mostly nice during President Barack Obama’s visit largely due to the mayor begging Austinites to stay home that day, but you couldn’t say the same thing for travelers trying to squeeze through the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

For one, we’re glad he came to Austin instead of doing literally anything else, but we’re biased. Poor Seth here failed to anticipate what everyone else in the city had prepared for, and you can’t really blame Obama for that, though he tried. Even so, we got this awesome double rainbow shot before the president left, and that’s worth something right?

Secret Service agent yelled at me, “Follow me!” ….Took me out to the front of Air Force One to capture this double rainbow shot.

Posted by Scott Guest on Friday, March 11, 2016

9.) Tolerance Fail

A SXSW volunteer asked an Olympic athlete remove her headscarf for reasons unknown. (*cough*) This isn’t how we do things in Austin and the SXSW people know it. The controversy that followed was swift and severe.

Thankfully, they did the right thing and quickly apologized.

8.) 6th Street Overcrowding Fail

It’s bad enough on Dirty 6th on a normal Saturday night, but take up a good third of the standing area and you create a nightmare to navigate on foot. Then again, considering #6 on this list (you’ll see), maybe it was for the best. Still a huge pain.

7.) Weather Fail

This year’s SXSW had mostly nice weather, save but for a few little scares. Like, um, that time a huge venue was evacuated. Yeeeahh…

At least it wasn’t a total loss.

6.) Failing to act like grown ups

Nothing bothers us more than people who come to our festivals with bad vibes, and this ugly scene ended up with gunfire on 6th Street and APD locking it all down with an urgency. Thankfully, they got the guy. Or so we’re told.

Watch the footage here (gunshots are heard around 1:38)…


5.) Failure to represent Austin to the world

Doc’s, why??? We want to love you, we really do, but you make it hard sometimes.

WTF? Misogyny is alive and well on South Congress.

Posted by Rakefet Avramovıtz on Friday, March 18, 2016

To be fair, Doc’s sort-of apologized after the social media storm whipped up over this sign and changed the message to read, “We love and support spandex.”

4.) Failed attempts at marketing

Stuff like this was also everywhere. Thankfully, the city wrapped all our phone and light posts with plastic to make cleanup easier. Still, this crappy attempt at promoting Kelly Rowland’s new show on BET left some venue owners rightfully upset. An empty wall or sidewalk is one thing, but crappy chalk paint (that apparently doesn’t wash off that easily) over actual art? For shame.

Still waiting for #kellyrowland to get her people to call my people about paying this artist to fix this mural they…

Posted by Randall Stockton on Thursday, March 17, 2016

3.) Whimsical event name fail

This is just one example of how weird event names are getting at SXSW. There’s so much going on, after all, you’ve gotta set yourself apart. But, um, The Bubble Family Party? Really? If you’re one of the thousands of tourists wandering around, this might sound like a crazy good time and totally unlike anything else going on… Until you arrive and realize it’s actually just a jam session at Guero’s. (Upside: At least they have great margaritas.)

Very misleading title for a SXSW show. #sxsw #sxswfail #atx

A photo posted by Phil Barton (@yaphilmeatx) on

2.) Affordability fail

These guys might as well just put up a sign that says, “Get off my lawn!”


A photo posted by Austin Healy (@austinhealy) on

1.) Stage dive fail

Best. Fail. Evar. (Don’t try this at home.)