Thomas Fawcett, aka the Reverend GetDown, is a freelance music writer with much knowledge and heart. He covers some of the biggest artists that come through the city for the Austin Chronicle… um, except this time. He bravely tells the story of the time he missed his chance to see Prince.
“Confession time. I haven’t told many people this story, because it literally still hurts me to talk about. Three years ago Prince played a SXSW show in Austin. The venue was tiny compared to the kinds of places he can fill. A Tribe Called Quest was the opener. It was one of the most hyped shows and hardest tickets in the history of the festival, in the history of this town. And I was supposed to cover it for the Chronicle.
I had instructions to be at a specific downtown location by noon to pick up my ticket. I woke up late, in a haze from being up all night writing. I was probably mildly hung over. I remember giving my beard a quick trim but the guard wasn’t on, so I just shaved a huge chunk of hair off the side of my face and then spent 10 minutes trying to make myself look less stupid.
My routine that year was to throw my bike in the car, park on the Eastside by Franklin BBQ, and pedal downtown from there. Easy peasy. Still in a fog, I made the unconscionable mistake of getting on I-35. I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic from the moment I got on the on-ramp. I panicked around 41st Street, got off, parked on Red River, and raced downtown on my bike. I arrived totally disheveled, sweaty as hell, and 10 minutes late. The ticket folks were gone.
I spent the afternoon trying to rectify my colossal failure. I heard the ticket guy was doing a walk-through at the venue, so I tried stalking him there. I begged venue management, pleaded with SXSW officials. Nobody could help. My editor’s response: “Boy, screwed the pooch, eh?”
Doug Freeman, who I think scored a ticket by lottery, reviewed the show instead. A tiny piece of me will always hate him for that, even though it was all my fault. So there you have it: the greatest fuck-up of my professional career and one of my deepest personal regrets. And, oh yeah, he played for hours that night and returned to the stage for six—six!!!—encores. Fuck me.
I did see an amazing show that night—Erykah Badu, George Clinton, Robert Glasper and more….but still, silver linings be damned. This was Prince, and there’s no one like Prince. Never has been, never will be. Wish I would have seen him live. RIP. Thanks for the music.”