In a sea of private parties guarded by surly bouncers at South by Southwest, the “Sneakerheadz” pre-premiere soiree at Wanderlust on Monday was refreshingly inclusive. All film and interactive badge holders were treated to a barbecue buffet from famed local joint The Salt Lick before the documentary premiered at the Vimeo Theater later that night. Keeping in theme with the film, which explores obsessed sneaker fans around the world, guests also checked out a special installation showcasing limited-edition kicks, including Jeremy Scott by Adidas Originals and Damien Hirst Chuck Taylors.
But it was only those VIP-wristband holders who got to hang with the cast of “Entourage” who showed up to Tumblr’s “F–k Yeah” party at the Mohawk to ramp up excitement for the summer release of the film version of the HBO hit. “We’re at capacity,” a doorman bellowed to the waiting crowd just an hour into the nearly seven-hour soiree.
All the hype seemed to be worth it, as those with access to the upstairs VIP section hovered giddily, snapping selfies with the cast. Kevin Dillon, in particular, made grown men swoon as he fist-bumped his way through the throngs of mostly male admirers (read: bros). Meanwhile, Jeremy Piven grooved along to Remix Artist Collective (aka RAC), performing down below.
Far away from the hubbub, director Colin Hanks and producer Sean Stuart held an early celebration for their documentary, “All Things Must Pass,” about the rise and fall of Tower Records, premiering the following morning at the festival. “All the cool kids are up here,” kidded Hanks of the off-the-beaten-path party spot the Gibson Austin Showroom, transformed into a classic Tower Records store for the affair. For extra nostalgic effect, guests shopped racks of vinyl with $10 gift cards.
In fact, Hanks and Stuart have been waiting seven years for this moment. “When we started going around trying to secure financing, [it] was in 2008, right when the economy was on the verge of collapse. So we went out to try to raise funds about a documentary about a company that had gone bankrupt,” explained Hanks, who gained some traction with a Kickstarter campaign. They ended up making the film “by piecemeal” as financing trickled in through the years.
Now that their persistence has paid off, a beaming Hanks — proudly donning a Tower Records button — said, “This has always been the goal, to show the movie at South by Southwest, and now that we’re here, we spent so much time trying to get here, I’m just happy,” he said, before adding, “Five minutes before the screening tomorrow may be a different story.”
Hanks, a fan of the fest, said he always had his eye on premiering the film in Austin because, “It’s loose and Tower [Records] was loose. Tower was relaxed. It’s blue jeans, it’s hanging out.”
The crowd shimmied along to retro tunes until midnight, when things came to a screeching halt when an organizer announced: “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”