DAY THREE – FRIDAY MARCH 20 | PART TWO
We arrived 30 minutes before Viet Cong started, thinking that would be ample time to get checked in and into the show. WE WERE SO WRONG!! Our check in went smoothly and we were even treated to express lane wristbands. But the line was long and slow. Standing in the rain, the water poured down on Bowerbird and I for 45 minutes. I felt terrible for Dan who was jacketless, but we had received guest spots from the singer, and I had no desire to bail. Fortunately someone came by selling plastic ponchos and I scooped one up for Bowerbird, making the remaining thirty minutes ever so slightly more bearable. We heard Viet Cong start as we waited for security to let more people into the Fader Fort. Unfortunately, between the rain and the street, we couldn’t hear their set with as much clarity as the Stubbs Bridge. And of course in the nick of time, we were given access to the fort and ran towards the stage dodging mud puddles. For the remainder of their set we wormed our way into the dense crowd of people who were clearly there to see a following hip-hop act, and were able to reach the center with a few hundred people in front of us.
The show was worth every raindrop. Viet Cong dropped into a wicked game of riffs and played Death, an 11-minute song off their 2015 album. The bands energy was high despite the majority of the crowds lack of interest. My face was plastered with a beaming smile, as we caught about four songs. After the set was done, I wanted to explore what the Fader Fort had to offer in branded experiences. Sadly, they were mostly outside. A chalkboard wall with a car in front of it, a bottle painting station to promote the use of glass, and a Dell ‘lounge’. Bowerbird was over it. Even though the rain had stopped he was soaking, and I’d like to make this my formal THANK YOU to him as he humored my curiosity. Inside the Fader Fort was a little warmer and we found some choice seating to ‘dry off. Figuring out our next move, we didn’t know of another show so decided to head to the Dresden, one of Austin’s oldest hotels, for a Manhatten.
While walking to the hotel we heard an interesting band coming out of a juice bar and ducked in. The nice thing about SXSW is there are a lot of venues where you can just pop in. Parties that you don’t need to RSVP too with smaller bands. It’s a place made for those that enjoy new discoveries. By the time we were inside the juice bar, the band had finished. But this bar was EXTRA toasty, so we paused again to ‘dry off’. I’m using dry off in quotations because I think it took three hours for Dan to dry completely and a majority of the drying took place in the Dresden hotel. His plastic poncho started to create its own ecosystem and condensation billowed underneath. We waited around for the next band to start and picked up some spicy curry tacos that warmed us internally. Austin is all about the food trucks. After about two songs of the new band, we left again to head to the Dresden.
The Dresden is a gorgeous hotel. Bowerbird and I really have a thing for old hotels, not haunted hotels, but hotels with a lot of character. Maybe one day I’ll do a blog post about the places we’ve stayed. We headed to the bar, which was packed with industry people wearing official SXSW badges, and order our whiskey beverages. With drinks in hand, we tried to find seats in the crowded lounge area. Finding an open chair and the second half of a love seat couch, we asked if they were reserved and plopped down next to two other gentlemen. We all started chatting about music and who they had gone to see. One of the men had a wicked mustache and deep voice with a thick Texas accent, I was mesmerized. Noticing the artist wristband on Dan’s arm, the men asked what band he was in and where they had played. Surprisingly they happened to be at the Levitation party the day before. And when their third friend came back from the bar, we figured out they were all there the same time Flaamingos was playing. The third friend had actually watched their set. It was so cool, I’m still in awe of the fact my boyfriend played SXSW. He had a decent size crowd, people cheered, AND we ran into someone who had seen his set and genuinely enjoyed it. Not that I don’t think Dan’s music isn’t amazing, he is wicked talented, but what are the chances we meet someone who actually saw his set.
Later that night we saw one more band and then eventually headed back to the hotel early. Catching Thoroughly Modern Milly on cable, eating bread and cheese for dinner. Friday was an epic day! One of those days for the record books. I stayed in Austin an extra two days with my beautiful friend Lauren, and without Dan. Lauren treated me to an amazing day in the park, Barton Springs, a much-needed juice after all the alcohol and salty food I’d been eating, and her sweet friendship. Those extra two days in Austin, even without Dan, really made me want to move to the city. We’ll see….
So it’s finally up, my full SXSW Austin Adventure – 2 months later – to the day.