A night I can only remember


Jimmieka Mills

Jimmieka Mills, Editor-in-Chief

I’ll admit, I’m a traditionalist and new technology gives me extreme anxiety. I didn’t have an internet connected computer until I was 20 years old and didn’t truly embrace text messaging until a short time after that. Despite the fact that I’m a millennial – which apparently gives everyone except me the super human ability to manage social media with lightning speed, social media is NOT my strong suit. Lucky for me I live an extremely simple, mostly uneventful life which is usually not worth documenting. This day though, was different.

I knew technology would be my best friend as I planned to drive to Austin alone for my first time. My phone would be my lifeline in case of emergency, for GPS, and my riding tunes – a good playlist can turn a miserable two-and-a-half-hour drive into a pre-party, in my case before attending SXSW. I jammed to a playlist of California greats in honor of the sixth anniversary of the passing of Nate Dogg and of course one of my favorite hits of all time ‘Regulate’ was repeated throughout.

My plan was to cover a panel that featured rapper Warren G discussing the premise of his documentary ‘G-Funk’ which premiered at SXSW. Shortly after the panel there was a scheduled viewing for the film which I planned to attend as well. My full itinerary, because of the gift and the curse that is technology, was fully accessible through my phone. The SXSW GO APP allows you to manage all of your interests from artists, speakers, events, venues and more. It was my bible. The alerts were so great and really easy to set, so I knew 30 mins ahead of time that I would be late to my panel. Not being able to find parking turned my chances from making it in to hear the last few minutes to, deciding just to head to stand in line hours early for the movie.

By God’s grace as I entered the auditorium just in time, although there were no seats left, the panel was still in session. Without taking a breath I dropped my purse and the few loose items I’d grabbed while rushing to make in it before all was lost, and pulled my phone out to take video of the panel discussion. Even with shaking hands the video was clear, I’d managed to creep up next to the organizers videographer so my angle was impeccable—I was really proud of myself, until I tried to play the video back and it had no sound. Well, I wasn’t going to let the devil steal my joy, I just moseyed my butt right back under that videographer’s armpit, held my breath and pressed record on my phone. Things were going well, until an organizer asked me to move. That clear video became a distorted recording from my new post at the very back of the filled auditorium. I was able to hear the only words that would truly matter to me, “Thank y’all for the support, and if y’all wanna kick it with Warren G and Snoop meet us after the viewing of ‘G-Funk’ at the after party!” I took this as a personal invite from Warren G to me and my schedule was complete!

SXSW introduced a new benefit for badge holders at this year’s festivities. In previous years, badge access had been specific to badge status. Film badge holders had access to just that the same went for music and interactive. This year however a badge of a difference source would also give you access to events that weren’t specific to your badge title. This meant that even though I was an interactive badge holder I would still have access to view the film but as a secondary screener. After all film and platinum badge holders had been admitted, secondary access (which included me) would be admitted, assuming there was still space in the theater. As I waited in the line that spanned for two blocks I anxiously checked my phone’s battery power which was at 68% and the SXSW GO APP, it made the time go by a bit faster, basically from snail to tortoise speed but I was patient none the less. Unfortunately, as I reached the front of the line I was told, “Sorry, the three ladies ahead of you were the last ones we can admit. We are at capacity.”

I couldn’t believe the universe would align itself to demolish my dreams and I refused to be defeated. I decided I would head to the after-party venue to ensure I would be able to get in. After walking eight blocks and checking my phone religiously, myself and the three others who were waiting for the venue to open stood outside patiently awaiting the celebrity arrivals. The venue was small and had no signage, all the makings of a “fake promoted party” this happens often. Promoters will print fliers with huge names on the bill only to drive up ticket sales and attendance for attendees only to find out that it’s not the “big name” artist at all more than likely it’s the owners cousin an up and coming rapper who goes by the name Lil Weedy that shows up in place of Lil Weezy. In my experience if it seems too good to be true it usually is.

Imagine our surprise and relief when after a three hour wait and $20 cover charge that there would in fact be an appearance by both stars. As I waited in line aggressively texting anyone who would respond my battery quickly lost juice 68% turned in to 11% extremely fast and by the time I entered the club my whole life seemed to crash and burn as my phone powered off when I needed it the most. Technology had failed me! I was ushered to the front of the stage as a member of the press, as Snoop was setting up his turntables in preparation to DJ the exclusive event. He hopped on the microphone and advised everyone to bring out their phones to document the event, I almost shed a tear.

As soon as his set started though, that lump that had been rising in my throat from the pain that technology (or the lack there-of) had inflicted was released in screams and jirations! There will probably never be a time that a DJ will weave Lauryn Hill’s ‘Doo Wop, That Thing’ and Migos’ ‘Bad and Boujie with Frankie Beverly and Lil Yachty! As I snapped my fingers into blisters (no literally I had a blister on my middle finger by the middle of the set) I noticed that I was one of the only ones truly engaged in the performance. The rest of the club goers were standing almost still as they attempted to adjust their Snapchat, IG and Facebook filters. Some of them were even narrating the event live on social media, someone even had the audacity to rest their elbow on my shoulder in order to get a better shot of the rapper’s special guest Desiigner in action literally inches from our faces.

All I could think was how technology had failed me when I needed it the most. How no one would believe this whole ordeal and how the universe had devised a plan to rain on my parade. Wait, was that actual rain? As these thoughts flowed I realized that that proverbial rain was bottled water that Desiigner was doucing on the crowd that had been too cool to rock. He had become irritated at the lack of audience involvement and intended to encourage them to put their phones away in order to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience. For the first time during this entire ordeal I was happy I didn’t have my phone which would have required half a bag of rice in order to work had it been wet by those Desiigner drops!

Without a hater bone in my body I began to point out celebs to the uninformed, slightly damp crowd so they could get photos. Vince Young, J Prince, and a host of other celebrities entered the club and mingled as the night came to an end we began to exit the club. As I walked out I was nearly pummeled by a group who were coming directly at me! I am often confused for Beyonce so I figured it was a case of mistaken identity, I hate when that happens but I wasn’t terribly shocked when they ran directly past me. They had all spotted Warren G and were rushing up to try to get selfies with him. I sadly knew I had no part to play in this so I moved out of the way. He must have recognized it because after he finished up with his eager fans he looked at me and said, “Hey lil momma, did you want to take a picture?” Mortified all I could do was look down at the ground and shake my head. It was too much to explain, I was too irate at technology to even begin to explain how it had ruined my day, my night and subsequently my life!

On my loonngg ride home I replayed my entire day and came to the conclusion that my bible had been the culprit for my technological misfortune. The SXSW GO APP had drained all the life from my lifeline and ironically became the very reason I could not document my SXSW experience. A two and-a-half hour drive was plenty of time for me to put things in perspective. Memories replayed of Snoop hitting the shoulders, and pointing directly at me as he played a Chaka Khan hit. Desiigner giving his iconic toothy grin as he reached out and grabbed my device free hand after drenching the crowd of social media addicts and Warren G and I making eye contact as we both sang along to undeniably his greatest hit ‘Regulate’.

Sure, it would have been amazing to have been able to re-live that night through video, social media likes and comments. My meager followers would have undoubtedly increased and I could have even made it on WorldStar (that’s of course granted my phone would have survived the Desiigner showers) but what would that experience have been like?

I more than likely would have had my head pointed at the floor as Snoop looked into the crowd for one other old school music lover to share his musical soul with, Desiigner would have found another gadgetless (which trust me I was the only unicorn in that crowd) club goer to share his delight and remarkably soft hand with and Warren G would more than likely have had to lower his head and ‘Regulate’ for him and Nate by himself (when I entered the club I noticed a large group of people huddled near a corner trying to educate themselves on who Warren G even was, I hope they were at the wrong venue) because most of this crowd was lost in the sauce.

These memories and blister scar are the only things I have to remember this unforgettable night and I will cherish these memories for a lifetime. I believe that food is to be devoured not photographed, fun is to be had not filmed and that good times are to be enjoyed not Instagrammed. But boy those would have been some great posts….