UPDATE: A third person injured in the SXSW hit-and-run has just passed away. Police have confirmed that 26-year-old Sandy Thuy Le from Mississippi has just died from her injuries in hospital.
A man has been formally charged with one count of capital murder, after plowing through a crowd in his car last week at SXSW. Rashad Owens of Killeen, Texas, drove through a crowd outside The Mohawk, killing two and injuring many more. The deceased include Stephen Craenmehr, 35, who was a creative director for the Dutch music agency Massive Music. A local Austin resident was also killed: 27-year-old Jamie Ranae West, who was riding on the back of a moped driven by her husband, Evan West, who is still in hospital. Eight people remain hospitalised – a list of the injured can be found here.
Texan newspaper the Austin American-Statesman that Owens was due to perform at the festival under the name KillingAllBeatz or K.A.B254. His brother, speaking to the newspaper, said that the rapper was unfamiliar with Austin's streets and confirmed that he had been drinking. According to his arrest affadavit, Owens’ blood-alcohol content was .114, over the legal limit of .08. His bail has been set at $3million.
Was this tragedy an accident waiting to happen? Some artists seem to think so, taking to Twitter to denounce the festival's drinking culture and corporate element. After the hit-and-run occurred, Ghe20G0thik DJ Venus X tweeted SXSW had become "one of the scariest places on Earth" since "corporations and drunk people" took over:
SXSW is one of the scariest places on earth since corporations and drunk people actually took the whole thing over 2-3 years ago.— VENUS X (@venusxGG) March 13, 2014
Discontent has long been simmering over how SXSW has changed from local roots as a regional music showcase to a global mega-brand that attracts big corporate sponsors and acts from all over the world. Last year, Zachary Cole Smith of DIIV posted a "fuck SXSW" post on his Tumblr while he was in Austin performing a series of shows.
"Fuck SXSW. There… I said it," he wrote. "Here, the music comes last. 5 minute set-up, no sound check, 15 minute set. The 'music' element is all a front, it’s the first thing to be compromised. Corporate money everywhere but in the hands of the artists, at what is really just a glorified corporate networking party. Drunk corporate goons and other industry vampires and cocaine. Everyone is drunk, being cool. 'Official' bureaucracy and all their mindless rules. Branding, branding, branding. It’s bullshit… sorry.
Have any of you been to SXSW? What do you think about its drinking culture and the fiercely corporate vibes?
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot