South by Southwest emerged in 1987 to a crowd of seven hundred regional music fans, many of whom were aching for the spill-off from New York’s New Music Seminar. It has since swelled both in size and intention, with some thirty thousand participants pouring into Austin, Texas, earlier this month for two weeks of music, film, and technology—bringing almost $170 million with them.

The enormity, for better or worse, has come to garner nearly as much press as the acts themselves, some of which get their first taste of the spotlight in the clustered Southern city. We asked New York-based photographer Alexander Wagner to capture the mood, and the images he brought back reflect the energy, heat, and creativity that arise in a city bottoming out beneath the weight of thousands of zealous fans.

More of Alexander Wagner’s work can be seen at

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Bottom left: Tatiana Turin at IMG