SXSW 2014 back in party mode after tragedy; Lady Gaga in rehearsal

SXSW 2014 back in party mode after tragedy; Lady Gaga in rehearsal
Bystanders tend to a man who was struck by a vehicle in downtown Austin, Texas, early Thursday, during the South by Southwest music festival. (Jay Janner / Associated Press)

AUSTIN, Texas -- Artists and venues slowly appeared to be returning to normal Thursday hours after a car plowed into a crowd of revelers, leaving two dead and 23 injured.

Venues near the tragedy canceled afternoon events and stated that concerts for this evening were "still pending," although early indications were that those shows would go on.


Meanwhile, images of pop star Lady Gaga rehearsing at a venue just blocks from where the accident occurred have flooded social media. Lady Gaga, who is scheduled to perform tonight at Stubb's, is the biggest artist to descend upon Austin this week for South by Southwest, a one-time industry event that has expanded to a week-long party with free events -- and often free booze -- available day and night. 

"All my love to music lovers and fans, stay safe tonight we love you," Lady Gaga tweeted early Thursday. 
At a morning news conference, South by Southwest's managing director, Roland Swenson, cautioned that it might be a bigger threat to public safety to cancel events. "I think it would probably cause more problems for everyone to be turned away from the show," he said.
Meanwhile, a 21-year-old man from Killeen, Texas, Rashad Charjuan Owens, was being held in connection with the deaths of two people at the festival,  authorities say. Owens was taken into custody Thursday morning and will face two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault, according to a spokeswoman for the Austin Police Department.
Police said the accident occurred shortly after 12:30 a.m. Thursday when officers attempted to stop a motorist suspected of driving while intoxicated. The driver sped off, said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, and broke through a barricade.
The incident occurred near the Mohawk club on Austin's Red River Street.
Artist and industry reps in Austin were still processing the news early Thursday, and at least one band member admitted that he was entirely surprised by the tragedy.

While SXSW's evening showcases are billed as primarily industry events, name brands head to Austin for a week of sponsored revelry. There's even a Twitter account that goes by the handle South by Free Drinks, posting daily updates as to where one can score free alcohol.

"There's so many people partying, so much free booze, when some bastard does something wrong it wakes everyone up," said Harry Thynne, the Australian-born drummer for the L.A heavy metal band Drop Tank, who played several shows within blocks of the crash on Wednesday and again on Thursday afternoon.

"They do the best they can," he added, "but they need to accept that there is a limit to how big this can grow. When you play here it's just go-go-go, and I just hope everyone is more mindful and caretaking of each other."

Andy Hurst, tour manager for the electronic artist Itch, said he passed the scene on Red River Street just minutes after the incident.

"It happened on a street we were trying to go down, and we saw 15 or 20 police cars and ambulances blow right past us," he said. "I'm almost glad we didn't see more than we did. Everyone's going to get on with it and do their jobs here, but it's horrible to think about the drunk-driving and that someone could do that."

Martens reported from Los Angeles and Brown reported from Austin.