For early March in Austin, TX, sun is typically expected with some breezes bringing down the warm temperatures into colder ones for the evening. But this year, SXSW was a rainier and colder one than usual. Fortunately, some chilly drizzle didn’t deter the crowd from lining Red River Street outside of Stubbs in hopes of getting a taste of the Rachael Ray Party. Every year, Rachael Ray brings together a fantastically eclectic lineup of bands with free beer and a menu featuring some delectable recipes designed specifically for SXSW. This year — even with the rain, it did not disappoint.
The music lineup is crafted from some of Rachael Ray’s personal favorites. For a woman known for her culinary expertise, she is surprisingly well-informed about the latest music and she loves artists spanning all genres from rock to R&B to Americana to hip hop. She also not only listens to plenty of rising acts, but she has a great taste for the classics. This year, Cee Lo was slated to headline and he performed a crooning, danceable set backed by scantily clad ladies.
But even though Cee Lo was named the headliner, it appeared from the line to get to the indoor Stubbs stage, it seemed a lot of the audience was there to see Green Day’s alter egos Foxboro Hot Tub; and yes, they did play Green Day songs. Green Day wasn’t the only classic act performing with a less widely known name. Travis Barker of Blink-182 fame proved he still can rock the drums hard even in a rap/hip hop act known as Yelawolf. While the audience skewed a little young, everyone seemed to know and understand the respects due to Blondie, who showed why they’ve been such a lasting name to inspire plenty of other artists, while Har Mar Superstar got down with the crowd and crooned about the party life.
The food was as desirable and diverse as the music. The main draw were Rachael’s classic whiskey river bbq chicken wings. I’m pretty sure those wings are where the expression ‘finger-lickin’ good’ come from. She also had mini sliders and delicious, kimchi hot dogs on the menu. Who knew that a hot dog could be so fancy?
In addition to the Sunday party, Rachael Ray ran a “Feedback Party” at an East Austin house/event space. This week-long event featured some of Rachael’s favorite Austin eateries and plenty of other additional performances by acts such as Band of Skulls.
Rachael Ray’s parties are always one of the highlights of SXSW and I can’t wait to see what she brings to town next year. While her parties are open to the public with RSVP, they do fill up fast, so keep your eyes peeled for next year’s announcement and show up early if you want to attend. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it.