As you know, I attended SXSW for the second year in a row and had an amazing time. My best friend Elliot and I flew out to AUS for another week of live music in the heart of Texas. By the end of the trip my hamstrings were tight and the bottoms of my feet were black from walking around in sandals. I took home a bunch of swag, a killer new JanSport backpack, and most importantly new music! See my recommendations below at the end of this post.
The week started off on a good food note. Monday night we had sushi at Uchi, one of the best sushi restaurants I’ve ever eaten at. At 4.5 stars on Yelp, this place lived up to our expectations. Following dinner, we cruised over to Speakeasy to catch Wallpaper., one of my favorite performers out of Oakland, California. Read more about Wallpaper. in a recent article from The Huffington Post.
After the party we had a dance session at Malaia (which I have continued to call Malaria since I never remember the name). The San Francisco dubstep DJ, Noah D, totally looked like Jessie Pinkman from afar and I couldn’t get over it. Even had to tweet it.
For the last two years of SXSW, El and I stop by The Driskill for the last night of Interactive. This is the place where everyone goes to recharge, hang out and mingle. This year we made some friends from Billboard, met one of their VJs and got schooled about Downtown Julie Brown. We also got VIP access to the following night’s Billboard Showcase with Lionel Richie at the ACL Live venue.
After The Driskill, El and I had a late night pit stop at Turf N’ Surf Po Boy taco truck and had their delicious catfish tacos. My mouth is literally watering as I type this. OMG I want one right now!
On Wednesday I had the best superfood smoothie ever from JuiceLand. Way better than Jamba Juice! I ordered a smoothie that was out of my comfort zone, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the Kaleibrator (coconut water • banana • durian • kale • spirulina • pecan butter • hemp seeds • coconut oil).
Wednesday night we went to the Billboard showcase featuring Wallpaper., Polica, The-Dream, and headliner Lionel Richie.
El and I enjoyed cupcakes, drinks and VIP views at the concert and got to see someone neither of us thought we’d ever see live: Lionel Richie. Video below.
On a side note: Thanks to Chevy for providing free car rides around Austin for the Catch A Chevy campaign. Elliot and I took advantage of this service on multiple occasions and our feet truly thanked us.
On Thursday we hung out at the registrants lounge (theme: Sounds From Spain), drank sangria and caught a few songs from Bigott. He was dancing around, arms flailing — he was so much fun to watch. After Bigott, we caught a ride (thanks again Chevy!) to the Fader Fort – I wasn’t completely impressed. I hear it’s pretty awesome at night so maybe that was our mistake for going too early in the day. There was a place to print screen a t-shirt but the line was too long. We did recharge our phones in the Nokia blue lounge. At the Fader Fort entrance visitors scribbled messages on the walls with sharpies so of course I had to leave my trademark @RobinWithAnI. Later on we hung out at the mtvU Woodie Awards Festival for a bit and saw Wallpaper. again.
We hit up Hopdoddy for dinner, another one of my favorite restaurants (and Elliot’s old work). The burgers and chili cheese fries are to DIE FOR. If you’re ever in Austin – and you better bring me along too – you must grab a bite to eat at Hopdoddy. We caught a show at the IFC Crossroads House and jumped in their photo booth.
The gal tweeting for IFC met up with us and gave us each a Portlandia poster and IFC yoga bag. Her shirt: Walter White‘s face. So awesome.
Friday was our last full day in Austin and we started our morning off at the Sonicbids party at Maggie Mae’s, sponsored by JanSport. Apparently JanSport’s HQ is in San Francisco and they are hosting a free Bonfire Session (“Bands and a bonfire under the big sky”) this summer in SF or Marin. JanSport holds Bonfire Sessions across the U.S. so visit their Facebook page for dates near you.
We checked out the Dortitos party (see that huge vending machine in my photo collage above) but were disappointed by the lack of things to do. Most of the venue was roped off for VIP and you had to pay for everything (except bags of chips) so we left. Snoop Dogg actually performed there but we were 12 hours too early. The Made in Israel Tel Aviv Beach Party looked fun so we hung out there for a while, sat on a giant blue lifeguard tower and watched the guests arrive below us.
Later that night we waited in line for over an hour to see 50 Cent and Eminem at the Austin Music Hall. I hoped to see more of Eminem but his appearance was brief. Videos below:
p.s. I now know I should take videos on my iPhone horizontally. #annoying
Following the show, we cruised over to catch the last two songs by Citizen Cope (one of my favorites) at the IFC Crossroads House.
The trip ended Saturday but not before a few (green) beers at Docs with live music by Black Taxi (below). We took the 17th somewhat easy and walked around South Congress and shopped before catching our ride to the airport.
The (Mild) Lowlights:
- GirlTalk performed one of the nights but the line was blocks long and required an RSVP. We tried sweet-talking the security guard but they were not having it.
- The fried pickles from BD Riley’s Irish Pub were outrageously salty. They were so bad that if I had popped my fried pickles cherry there, I would’ve never recovered.
- I did not make it to Torchy’s for tacos 🙁 Unfortunately there just wasn’t enough time to make the trek over to that taco stand.
- We missed what was probably one of the best nights at SXSW: the final night, also St. Patrick’s Day! We spent most of the booze holiday in airports and on planes. By the time we got back to California it was after 11pm and we were pooped. Next time we have to stay for the final day of showcases.
My SXSW Music Picks
(Heads up: This video might be NSFW, depending on where you work. There are boobs.)
Where I saw Bigott: The SXSW Sounds of Spain party.
What’s cool about them: How quirky and funny they are. Watch THIS video for proof.
Location: Zaragoza, Spain
Where I saw The Lumineers: The DYN party.
What’s cool about them: They encourage audience participation!
Location: Denver, CO
Where I saw Black Taxi: Doc’s patio on St. Patrick’s Day.
What’s cool about them: They’re really good live, but aren’t as well known so the chances of seeing them in a small venue are likely. Check them out before they get too big (because they will).
Location: New York
Where I saw Back Pocket Memory: Lead singer Chris Pennington was singing, hanging in and out of Agave’s front window as we were walking by.
What’s cool about them: They made a great first impression on me. Plus, they were highly recommended by my friend BarbRocks.
Location: Burbank, CA
Where I saw POLIÇA: This band was one of the opening acts for Lionel Richie at the Billboard sponsored showcase at the ACL Live venue.
What’s cool about them: Frontwoman Channy Leaneagh’s unique style with accompanied band including two live drummers. The band released their debut album last month. Also featured on NPR.
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Where I saw Vanaprasta: Rusty’s.
What’s cool about them: Reminds me of Kings of Leon, but edgier. Great performance with a lot of energy. Amazing vocals.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
I suppose all good things must come to an end. It’s been a week since I’ve been home and while I miss the non-stop live music and spontaneous lifestyle, it feels great to sleep in my bed on a mattress with clean feet!
But I gotta ask: Who’s up for SXSW 2013??