The Austin Music Video Festival awards show Saturday night definitely helped keep Austin weird for the third year in a row. As I first walked in to the Austin School of Film, one musician waddled by me in scuba diving flippers, drinking beer through a snorkel and laughing with another woman in bunny pajamas. This event was sponsored with catered drinks from Tito’s Vodka, Dulce Vida’s organic Tequila, Uncle Billy‘s beer, Oskar Blues brewery, and Tubi 60’s vegan citrus Israeli liquor. The free catered alcohol gave the venue a loose vibe and people were letting their freak flag fly. For example, as Calliope Musicals performed in silver space suits while green aliens were dipping and dabbing in a background of cartoons and an orgy of psychedelic colors. Other performances included women twerking with George Bush masks on and rock bands jamming out in yoga pants. To say the least, this was one of the most confusing and unique events I had ever seen.
Pre-show virtual reality
During the pre-show, I was able to check out the Hybrid VR demo and play drums on the Austin skyline. Each building on the Austin skyline served as a different instrument that you could hit with virtual reality drum sticks. As a track played in the background, the experience allowed me to play along by hitting the Austin capital building as drum kit, the Frost bank as a piano, and other buildings as xylophones. Days earlier, the Thrillbox sponsored a videoactive lounge with even more virtual reality experiences. Observing from the outside, I watched a group of fans dance in a silent disco and I couldn’t help but laugh listening to everyone breathing heavily while contorting their bodies in virtual reality headsets. Other stations enabled the audience to enjoy live performances, augmented reality, and video game exhibits from OnlyinVR, To the Top, Hybrid VR, and Moontower VFX.
Looking in the rearview
Tonight is a culmination of music video screenings and premiers taking place around Austin since the AMVFest opening night on Tuesday. On the rooftop pool bar of the W Hotel, AMVFest debuted the world premieres of A Giant Dog, David Ramirez, Whiskey Shivers, Golden Dawn Arkestra, Holiday Mountain, MIDDLESPOON, LA Witches and more. Wednesday night at the Flaming Lips Video freak out there was a costume contest that you can imagine celebrated the strange and Q&A with Wayne Coyne and LIPS director Bradley Beasley. Finally, the “Keepin’ It Weird” video showcase featured videos from Weird Destiny productions. On Thursday, after the director spotlight with Bradley Beesley there were a few hours of video screening until Holodeck records presented the top local and international electronic artists representing the synth and analog influenced sound of the label. The Holodeck screenings featured SURVIVE, VVV, Troller, Curved Light, Marie Davidson, and a world premiere from Lou Rebecca. Moreover, the Hip Hop and Lady power showcases on Friday screened until the Maui Wowie Luau where BUHU, Lance Herbstrong, and the Human Circuit performed to a sea of Hawaiian shirts an hula skirts. That brings me to Saturday, which featured screenings for music videos featuring cartoons, animations, and comedy as themes leading up to the awards show.
amvfest left me ‘well aware’
All in all, the Austin Music Video Festival highlighted the incredible talent the city has to offer in music and cinematography. Although unapologetically strange and weird, the artists I met over the week seemed equally grounded, approachable, and friendly. Specifically, I wanted to highlight Saints of Valory, an Austin rock band who globetrotting music video featured footage in Kenya with a local Austin charity, Well Aware. Well Aware installs rainwater collection systems and gravity driven pipelines in East Africa with a 100% success rate. This is a great accomplishment considering the fact that 60% of water projects in Africa do not work and scarcity leaves many either thirsty or sick from the water. Its founder Sarah Evans also uses Well Aware as a platform to help Hurricane Harvey victims and many other community programs. Ultimately, this is what the Austin Music Video Festival is all about: coming together as a community, connecting with each other, celebrating each other, and helping each other.
Photo Credit: Ricardo Romero