South by Southwest is Austin’s event, but the yearly infusion of San Franciscans brings a unique NorCal hospitality. Some call it Burning Man but at SXSW it’s actually the SF Embassy, organized by native Bay Area residents and entrepreneurs Gabe Benveniste, James Home & Micah Saul, located smack in the middle of Austin’s 6th Street. The SF Embassy, branded entirely by its own virtues, was rife with all the swag and gifts any branded corporation might offer. All residents were called Ambassadors with printed “SF
Embassy Ambassador” business cards. SF Embassy also had it’s own foursquare badge, twitter account, website, one inch round buttons, and even a field guide for San Franciscans in Austin – with a map!
Why An Embassy?
“SXSW is an interesting event. As a gathering of amazing people from
around the US and the world, it’s depressing that most of the
gatherings are in some way related to corporate entities. The embassy
was intriguing to me and others I spoke to because it turned that on
its head. Here was a collection of people bound together by strong
branding and focus with no ulterior, corporate motives. This idea
seemed to resonate with people, and it seems that next year we may see
more embassies springing up from cities around the country and possibly
overseas,” says Micah Saul, co-founder of the SF Embassy.
Major Delicious Highlight
Pancake brunch at the SF Embassy, with a rock show from our favorite sons of San Francisco, the Ferocious Few. (pancakes thanks to SF natives at Batter Blaster, who recently re-located to Austin.)
Media Was Made
We’re San Franciscans, so we took the food and rock combination a little further. We made media.
SF Appeal friend and contrib Eddie Codel filmed it for ustream, and SF [Embassy] Ambassador Nate Bolt used time lapse to capture the moment. As production company Beep Show, Bolt produced this video for the band, featuring, their new single “Porcelain Doll.”
How Was The Experience?
We asked Birdman Records Founder & President, native San Franciscan David Katznelson, who recently signed the Ferocious Few to a record deal. David says out of 31 shows (mostly on the street) the Ferocious Few played in Austin, “the one at the SF Embassy was the most explosive. Maybe
because it was for a home-town crowd, many of whom had yet to see the
Few at their newest most feral state. Maybe it was because the English
friends I brought along were spellbound at seeing the future of rock
and roll in a small, filled and warm space….a space filled with the
smell of Bacon. Gabe and the rest of the folks made an amazing Embassy
smack dab in the middle of ground zero 6th street.”
What about next year?
We asked Micah Saul…
“The plan is to push this even farther next year. Both San Francisco and SXSW attract some of the most interesting people in the world. If the embassy can provide a place that fosters conversation and ad hoc gatherings between these interesting people, we’ll have done our job. SF Embassy 2011 will be more and bigger parties; even more awesome people representing our city; potential diplomatic ties with embassies from LA, NY, DC, Toronto, and more.”
Many thanks to the SF Embassy this year, and to the Ferocious Few. We look forward to the new United Nations, and a room at the SF Embassy in 2011. Requesting a double bed, if it’s not too early.