Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SXSW: Unofficial and Off-The-Books

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A little rain never hurt anyone, right? It's funny, the last time I was in Austin in March -- on the same weekend even -- it poured. This year, two -- three? -- years later, I just had a feeling...

Our team rose early on Wednesday, before the sun even had a chance to say good morning we were out the door and off to the airport, bound for Austin. After months of planning, the week had finally arrived, SXSW was here and our #FPFestivalDays showcase -- the kickoff of Free People's festival season -- was just 48 hours away. After two days of frenetic prep in Austin, we woke to cloudy skies and a forecast calling for a 100% chance of rain. 100%. That's hard to argue with. Still, we crossed all our fingers and thought positive thoughts and pushed on, transforming the backyard of Friends & Neighbors into a dreamy outdoor space that just begged to be filled with music and good vibes.

A few droplets fell. We hoped and prayed with Austin Beer Works beers in hand and the sound of Taylor and the Wild Now filling our ears (I implore you to look them up and give them a listen). A few more drops. A hint of sun. Then, the inevitable... 100% rain. Torrential downpours just as Family and Friends took the (now indoor) stage. Anywhere else and this might be reason to throw in the (damp) towel and walk away, but not at South-By. Happy faces just cozied closer, swaying together and huddling under too-tiny umbrellas. After Family and Friends rocked our hearts, Nikki Lane, who I'll admit to having a very major lady crush on, graced us with her presence under the glow of string lights. I'm not sure I'd want to see her play in any other circumstance, it was that gorgeous. The patter of rain above and the throng of guitar pulsing through our nerves just made for an even more incredible experience.

As 4:30 rolled around, it was sadly time for me to depart for Texas Hill Country. My CAMP friends were waiting and I had a gal to meet at a hardware store for a ride (perhaps the only way to organize travel when in Texas). But oh, those Jamestown Revival boys were a sight to depart with and I can only imagine how they rocked that crowd.

Austin, it will always have my heart. To see so many beaming faces standing together in the rain, a few seeking shelter under a makeshift stage. A stage made from a shed (dirt floor and everything), well, no other city has quite as much heart as this. You can have the Coachella's and Lollapalooza's of the world, I'll take unofficial, off-the-books SXSW any time. This day was all too short, but one for the record books.
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*See more pics from the event here