My good friend Jed got punched in the face at the Vice party Saturday night after A$AP Rocky and his entourage jumped into the crowd and started a brawl. He needed eight stitches. A$AP’s crew were upset that people were throwing beer at them onstage, minutes after Trash Talk’s set, at an open-bar party, on the last day of SXSW, at 3 a.m.
The evening began happily enough.There’s a deeply satisfying, if contemptible feeling that comes with consuming copious amounts of free alcohol while hundreds of others are impatiently writhing outside to do the same.
Security was tight for the little people but it was a breeze for professional skateboarders. Steve Berra was able to talk his way into the venue via a side entrance, and Jed and I joked about how many thetans he paid the guy before we caught the last few minutes of Trash Talk’s set.
Trash Talk is, well, Trash Talk. When you get hit with beer during their show, you cross yourself, mutter thanks that it wasn’t bodily fluids, and continue to use your elbows and kneecaps to tenderize the people around you. We were biding our time for FIDLAR, so we hung back at the bar and watched A$AP Rocky from a good distance.
Scores of stage-diving dudes slugging cognac and spitting into a lubricated, adulatory audience: no surprises there. We’d seen A$AP Rocky before and their set played out as it had in New York, only they seemed more irritated about all the beer in the air: “Stop throwing that shit.” A do-rag went missing in the crowd before it was retrieved with the help of a bouncer wielding one of those flashlights that has the same type of piercing, Audi headlight-beam that makes you want to kill whoever’s holding it.
Another song, another admonition to the crowd to quit throwing beer. A bouncer stopped one of the guys on stage so A$AP Rocky asked everyone to calm down. Seconds later, another beer sailed over the band from stage left. The angry blue beam appeared again as the crew tried to identify the beer-thrower. “No? It wasn’t you? We got love over on this side? Okay.” They even got the crowd to chant “World Peace.”
But the beer kept flying. “The more they tell people to not throw beer the more people are gonna want to throw beer,” I said. “If they don’t finish their set everyone is going to be chucking beer.” Jed shot me a grin that I read as “good idea” and melted into the crowd before I could stop him. A minute later, beer shot into the air, and there was an awkward pause as A$AP Rocky’s crew stepped down from the stage.
I couldn’t see exactly what was happening, but my desolate corner of the room was becoming populated with people avoiding whatever was going on up front. A girl screamed, the crowd parted and I saw Jed, his shirt ripped and his face bloody.
“How bad is it?” A giant gash pulsated above his right eye. I didn’t answer him, but instead walked over to the bar and asked for a rag. “What? Why? Oh,” the bartender saw Jed’s face. “Holy shit.” She gave us a rag and some ice and Jed debated whether to head to the hospital. His girlfriend materialized and offered to give him a ride. We walked outside to a confused, drunk crowd and the police began shooing people from 5th Street. As Jed climbed onto his girlfriend’s moped, two guys recognized him. “Hey that’s the guy who ruined the show! He’s the one who spoiled it!” I remember the way he pronounced “spoiled” like that kid whose mom got him Bomb Pops and not Nutty Buddys so his week is spoiled. Jed removed the rag from his head before he spoke. “Oh, fuck you.”
Jed, an Austinite whose name isn’t actually Jed, said he doesn’t remember throwing a beer or who hit him. “I remember the guys jumping down from the stage, but it was dark and it felt like there were a few people hitting me. I don’t know if it was the band or not.” He spent five hours in the ER watching bloodied guys in handcuffs and girls with stubbed toes. “I was the only head injury. The hospital during South By was filled with fucking pussies.”
“It’s ironic that the security that did such a top-notch job of keeping people out of the venue couldn’t even control the performers,” Jed told us later. “I see that people are calling this band ‘punk.‘ How punk are they if they can’t dodge beer?”
If you weren’t able to make it down to Texas this year, here’s what you need to know: Impose won SXSW. If someone at Vice wants to pick up Jed’s hospital bill, drop us a line.