Friday, June 12, 2015

the atx fest! part two

The ATX Festival was fantastic. If you just want to get to what I learned from the panels, then check out this post.

Austin is a short drive from Houston, so to save money on a hotel, we decided to skip the Thursday night activities and drive up Friday morning, grab our badges when registration started at 9:00, and then get to a Bunheads panel at 10:00. HAHA. The registration line was really long at 9:15 and we saw on twitter that the line for Bunheads was wrapped around the building. By the time we got our badges a few minutes after 10, we didn't even want to bother with trying. I was frustrated because there was nothing else we wanted to see at that time and really bummed to miss the panel since is was the only chance I had to see Sutton Foster. But, we had gotten up early and skipped breakfast, so we decided to have lunch instead and try another panel later. Since we were there for the girliest thing we have ever done, short of attending a bridal show, I suggested barbecue and of course my husband obliged with a place he didn't think would have much of a line.

We arrived at La Barbecue around 10:30 and there were only about twenty people in line in front of us, including one horribly obnoxious woman who I wanted to punch, but there's nearly always one of those in a BBQ line. The line took forever and instead of trying to find a cab back to the festival area, we started walking and got stuck in a dead end with construction. It was hot (it's Texas in June!) and by the time we finally got back to the panel we wanted to go to, it was full. Strike out number two. A HUGE line was already forming for Boy Meets Girl Meets World, and since there was nothing else we wanted to do, we got in it and made it into the panel.

La Barbecue | Lady Bird Lake (on our way to FNL) | Our Texas themed clothes seemed FNL appropriate

We stayed at the Radisson, about six blocks away from most of the festival activities, which was a great location. We checked in after the panel and debated what to do that night. The new Denis Leary show was premiering, and I knew Andrew would love to go to that (and I wouldn't hate it), so we were deciding between that and the Friday Night Lights tailgate party happening about a mile away. The FNL party happens every year, and there's always some kind of surprise. I was hoping Connie Britton or Taylor Kitsch would show up and I knew that if something amazing happened, I would be mad to miss it, so I decided on FNL. We can always watch the Denis Leary show when it airs but I can't get another chance at seeing Tim Riggins in person. We grabbed a quick dinner at Homeslice (good, but I don't get the hype) and went across the street for the event (which was getting full 15 minutes after it was supposed to start!) If you've been following along, then you know how this story ends - the surprise this year was Gilmore Girls related and Hep Alien, a band from the show, reunited. I've already detailed it here but it made me so giddy and excited to have gotten to see that up close. So much better than Denis Leary.

Lane | Zach and Brian | Sutton Foster and Amy Sherman-Palladino | See, they were RIGHT in front of me! | Jackson 

Since the Bunheads line was really long on Friday, we decided to get an early start for Coffee with Amy (Sherman-Palladino) that was scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday. We thought surely getting in line by 8 a.m. would guarantee us a spot.... but no. Apparently some people started lining up by 5 a.m. and we were too late. At least the festival organizers counted the line and told us, rather than making us wait, so we were free to go elsewhere. We ended up at another event venue - the Google Fiber space - which was awesome (free sodas, water, and coffee and a great size) and where we stayed for two back-to-back panels. After that, we went back to the main festival area for the James L. Brooks presentation. I was hungry and went to the theater's snack bar for some food and drinks and accidentally spent $25 on next to nothing. Oops. I hope next year's festival has more food options!

There was another panel we wanted to go to after that, but since we had been to three things in a row and the overpriced peanut butter M&Ms and pretzels we shared didn't really tide me over, we went to nearby Royal Grocery for a quick sandwich followed by (free!) drinks at the hotel. In hindsight, I am so glad we took a break when and where we did because it was our last real chance for a meal. The Justified panel was after that, and we had fastpasses to guarantee entry. Andrew liked it, but I've never watched the show, so I was lost.

After the Coffee with Amy fiasco and because everyone who had been to the festival before said the lines this year were longer than ever, tensions were high for getting in line for the Gilmore Girls reunion, which was happening that night. We had fastpasses for that too (thank goodness!) but still wanted to make sure to get in line at a decent time to get a good seat. Festival volunteers wouldn't let anyone line up before 5:00, but people started doing it anyway around 3:00 and the police came and asked them to leave. It was crazy - people had paid a good amount of money, presumably for tickets to a festival, and they were spending all of their time just waiting. We headed out to the theater where the GG Reunion was happening around 4:50 and there were already "unofficial" lines (that I knew we would get cut if we messed with). We happened to hear where the official line was going to be and got in it. Even though I knew we were getting in, we were so far back. And it was 5 p.m. and the sun was out with barely any cloud cover and no breeze. The fastpass line was in direct sunlight and we had no shade. Everyone was hot, sweaty, and a little crabby. Luckily, there was a convenience store across the street so Andrew went and got water, and there was water being passed out in line. They also gave out pop-tarts, which makes sense if you like the show. Either way, it was H-O-T. The sun was brutal and we were all crowded together. The line for those without fastpasses stretched about 3/4 of the way around the block so it could have been worse. It was just a lot of sweaty waiting. (Have I mentioned the sun? Because it was AWFUL. Cheers for sunblock!)

When they finally opened the door, Andrew and I took our best guess at getting into the theater and finding a good seat. We went all the way to the right and found two seats together, six rows from the stage. The view was great. We sat down, and then the girl next to me said to look behind us - there were signs on chairs for half the row behind us and the two rows behind that that said "Reserved - " and then names of all of the major cast members. I. COULDN'T. EVEN. Emily Gilmore was supposed to be seated right behind me. I was instantly aware of how badly we all smelled from our long wait. A woman came by and asked us not to take pictures of the actors when they sat down, so we tried to be respectful, but once the actors came in, everyone else around us who didn't hear the request was taking pictures, so I snuck a few, too. Because of the way the event was set up, the main three actresses never sat with the audience, which is probably good because I would have probably embarrassed myself. Mae Whitman and Miles Heizer (Amber and Drew from Parenthood aka Lauren Graham's other TV children) ended up in that row, though, and you can tell they're close in real life.

The stage | I got out of line so I could check the red carpet and caught Jared Padalecki (Dean) | The reserved seats | My favorite pic of the whole weekend - Logan and Jess! | The marquee

Even though I completely enjoyed myself and loved every single minute of the reunion, I had a headache bordering on the hangries when it was all over, so we went to Swift's Attic for a late dinner. Lauren Graham, Mae Whitman, and Alexis Bledel went there the night before. It wasn't that great, unfortunately. I wanted to join the crowd at the hotel stalking celebrities, but I also didn't want to be that person. I'm old and tired and knew the next day would be long, so we called it a night pretty early.

Fred Savage | Wilmer Valderamma | Carrie Coon (she's on The Leftovers and played Go in Gone Girl) | Adrianne Palicki

On Sunday, there was a line forming for people to buy badges to attend the festival next year, even though no programming has been announced. We decided to go ahead and buy them - we can always resell them, after all, and other than the lines and a rough first day, we enjoyed ourselves. It ended up that they were only selling a certain amount and I got the last two! So that was good. While I was in line for the last panel of the day, I saw Fred Savage. Yay Wonder Years. The line went outside and stretched around the building and I didn't think we would get in, but we did, with room to spare. After that, we went to Freedman's, which is a cool bar in an old building that also serves BBQ. There was no wait involved and there were mimosas, so it was a great ending to the trip.

BBQ and a mimosa because why not? Loved the housemade pickles and pickled red onions | smoked beets

I'm excited to attend this event again next year. In addition to the panels, there are lots of screenings, but we didn't end up at any due mostly to scheduling but a few times due to lack of interest. We definitely want to mix it up more next year. Now that I know what to expect and the size of the venues, I'll be able to plan better. This was a really fun experience for people like Andrew and me who like to know weird little trivia bits about TV so I'm excited to see what's coming in 2016 and spend another anniversary with the characters we watch on TV.


  1. Hurrah for securing the last two for next year! I detest lines and heat and waiting, but it's good that you know better what to expect for next year.

    I think this sounds like a really fun weekend.

  2. Such a fun event and so cool you got to see Sutton Foster! If only Taylor was there i might have braved the heat and crowds.

  3. Sounds like you guys had a great time! I hate waiting in line though and would have been so stressed. I'm just not a crowds person, and the whole unofficial line would have just put me over the edge. I have never heard of The Leftovers, which looks really interesting, or Bunheads. The Leftovers sound like a show I would may be time for us to break down and add HBO Now to our subscription collection.

  4. Holy cow -- you guys had a packed weekend, but a fun one! I would have been a crazy mixture of overwhelmed, starstuck, giddy, and hangry the entire weekend. I think it's super fun you both have an intense love for TV and know so much about not only the actors, but the directors, producers, and such.

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