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Austin Chronicle April Fools Joke Pokes Fun At SXSW Concerns

The Austin Chronicle April Fool's joke makes light of public handwringing over the growth of SXSW.
The Austin Chronicle April Fool's joke makes light of public handwringing over the growth of SXSW.

The city's alternative weekly, the Austin Chronicle, hit news stands today with the shocking front page storythat South by Southwest was planning construction of a nine story dome in Bastrop to host the annual music, internet, film, and education conference outside Austin city limits.

"Enough just became enough," explained SXSW Managing Director Roland Swenson when contacted about the dome. "If Austinites really don't want South by Southwest in this town, we'll move it. Then nobody can complain about it being intrusive. We'll own all of the appropriate real estate." From what our editorial board was shown, the dome is specifically customized for a music festival such as SXSW, wherein all official performances are held inside and then, as with the vaunted Kerrville Folk Festival, attendant shows occur in the campgrounds after hours. Taking a page out of the W Hotel's book, sleeping quarters connect directly to stages on the second and fourth levels. A Living Foods Village is already proposed for the fifth level, as are bike rentals, child care, and free yoga. The design also includes a companion resort that will be self-supporting when no event is going on.

April Fools! The Austin Chronicle story is a hoax, in case you didn't figure it out yourself. South by Southwest managing director Roland Swenson, whose quote was fabricated in the Chronicle article, says he found it amusing.

"I thought it was funny," Swenson told KUT News. "I think that the subtext is, is the city going to overreact to the problems that we had this year? That's an open question.  From our point of view, we put on 400 shows and we had problems at four."

Swenson feels some of the criticism SXSW has faced in the local media has been unfair.  KUT News published a blog post after the festival quoting one city official who said it was time to "dial it back." Other local media outlets have reported on criticism of the record breaking crowds descending on Austin for SXSW events, both official and unofficial, and the Austin American-Statesman's editorial board declared it was "time to address SXSW growing pains."

The Chronicle also produced this YouTube video with reporter Richard Whittakerimpersonating a concerned scientist.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.