Austin’s annual musical festival — South by Southwest — better known as SXSW is undoubtedly one of the best places to experience live hip-hop music in America. There’s no taking away from the energy and sheer magnitude of notable acts squeezed into one long week of concerts.
But after attending SXSW for six consecutive years, it gets harder and harder to get excited about the festival when you know you’re going to be jam packed into the same venues while rappers scream into a mic and sound-system that has not been properly soundchecked.
The anticipation you have when thinking of discovering new acts and watching a buzzing rapper’s first major showcase comes to a halt when you only see “Presented by (insert) megacorporation’s name” attached to a new artist’s SXSW concert. The majority of them care nothing about hip-hop culture — if we’re going to honest, here. It’s the brand’s thirst to stay in bed with youth culture that keeps them coming back for more. Essentially, wherever the dollars are being generated, Damon Dash’s favorite people are always right there to capitalize monetarily.
I live in a country where capitalism prevails, so to take it all in stride seems like the most sane option for a journalist trying to pay rent in Manhattan. Or maybe my ridiculous intake of Texas barbecue has finally seeped into my brain — and I’ve lost it. Another option would be to chalk up my lack of satisfaction from SXSW to the years I’ve spent flying around from city to city to watch rap performances. Yes, I’ll be 30 in April, and I’ve been at it since age 21.
For me, the saving grace of SXSW 2016 was my experience at Gus’s Fried Chicken. Though, it’s an institution in Austin — and several other Southern cities — the long lines have always kept me away from the foodie hangout until my sixth trip to Texas.
As a man who has tasted the finest of fried chicken from the strip clubs down in Atlanta to the Korean fried chicken craze in Seoul, I consider myself a connoisseur of fowl. With that said, Gus’s served up some of the best fried chicken that I ever had in my life. The sides dish are all meh — actually the mac & cheese is down right disgraceful — but the juicy-on-the-inside-golden-brown-on-the-outside served at just the right temperature bird is immaculate.
Gus’s chicken only comes spicy, so prepare yourself with a cold brew if you can’t stand the heat. But it’s never an overwhelming, tongue numbing burn — each piece is perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of kick to keep your taste-buds salivating until the next bite. Personally, I’m a wing man, but Gus’s cooks the whole bird to perfection. Believe me, I ordered a whole “half chicken” to be sure. That included a giant breast (always a good thing), luscious thigh, meaty wing and a crunchy drumstick. The oversized breast was even awesome while being eaten cold at 3:00 am the next day.
Like I said before, pay little mind to the sides because they are trash. The fries and coleslaw are tolerable so keep it basic. But remember, anytime you need a dose of deep fried euphoria.
Rap is everything, but chicken gives me life, people.