Thirty thousand people, Coldplay, the return of "Veronica Mars" and Edward Snowden. Is Austin really ready for this?
South By Southwest kicks off Friday. Per usual, the 10-day festival is split into three main categories: music, film and interactive.
Starting us off Friday is "Iron Man" director Jon Favreau's latest movie, “Chef.” Favreau plays a chef-turned-food-truck-owner alongside a star-studded cast featuring Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and — of course — Robert Downey Jr. (Via Movieclips, Entertainment Weekly)
And here's a familiar face. (Via Warner Bros. / "Veronica Mars")
"Look who it is, most likely to blog and class buzzkill."
Yep, Kristen Bell's back as Veronica Mars. The Kickstarter-backed movie project will premiere at the festival Saturday. (Via Warner Bros. Television / "The Ellen DeGeneres Show")
And a college-aged Zac Efron is set to terrorize Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne in his new comedy "Neighbors," which makes its worldwide premiere Saturday. (Via Universal Pictures / "Neighbors")
But the "film" category won't be as strictly defined this year. According to CBS, SXSW will screen TV shows, too. One to watch for: "Silicon Valley."
This tech-fueled series comes from the creator of "Office Space" and will air on HBO starting April 6. (Via HBO / "Silicon Valley")
"Ultimately what we're trying to do is, uh, um."
And that awkwardness is exactly what tech hopefuls flocking to SXSW's interactive portion this year hope to avoid.
Because these few days have seen the launches of companies such as Twitter and Foursquare. Everyone wants to be the talk of South-By.
Director for SXSW Interactive Hugh Forrest tells NPR 3-D printing and wearable technology will be big at this year's fest. But the hardware might be overshadowed by some controversial names.
Try Edward Snowden. This year's interactive will focus heavily on privacy with the NSA leaker set to speak via video conference for the first time since fleeing to Russia. (Via The Guardian)
Not to be outdone, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will also beam in from his home, the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. (Via ABC)
Forrest explains to USA Today: "[Privacy] is very important to the digital creatives who come to the show. It needs debate, and dramatically impacts what apps will be built and how they work."
Making her first-ever SXSW appearance next Thursday is Lady Gaga.
The "Applause" singer is doing something unique, which I guess really isn't a surprise. Gaga will host an "Artpop" performance on the Doritos #BoldStage inside Stubb's BBQ. (Via Interscope / Lady Gaga)
But the only way to get tickets is to win one. (Via Doritos)
"I want you to share a picture or a video that expresses your individuality through a bold action."
Then, hashtag it #BoldBravery or #BoldStage, and Gaga will pick the winners. (Via Doritos)
Gaga tells Rolling Stone it will be a one-off set. She gives a preview of what the audiences might see in her SXSW performance: "I love theatrics, but I started out singing at a piano with a Bud Light in a bikini. Performing at Stubb's is a real blast from my past."
Since the iTunes festival is an import from England, it only makes sense Coldplay starts it off in the States Tuesday night. Chris and the boys just released two new songs from their upcoming album "Ghost Stories," along this eerie video for "Midnight." (Via Spin, Parlophone / Coldplay)
This year's fest will also see the return of 50 Cent. Bet you haven't heard that name in a while.
And in true SXSW fashion, 50 will live stream his show via a mobile app called Hang With — he's an investor in the app. Expect some new stuff as the artist plans to drop his latest album in June.
Phew, and that's just a taste of what March 7-16 will look like in Austin.
Local news affiliate KXAN has already warned locals to "get ready." But don't worry, there's an app for that.
People looking to avoid people altogether can check out Web app Avoid Humans. That's actually what it's called. It pulls Foursquare check-in and more to help festivalgoers and Austinites avoid the masses.
Grumpy Cat, that app is for you. (Twitter / @RealGrumpyCat)