Spring time has to be my favorite time to go home to Austin. Everything is green, green, green. It surprises me every time I go home how lush and green Austin is compared to the Phoenix area. And then air is so much more humid, it feels like my skin is soaking in as much as it can after being in the dry desert!
My parents still live in the same house that I grew up in so going home has this very overwhelming, but good, feeling to me. Everything about the house and yard, even the streets that we drive around town, are more than familiar. It feels like they're imprinted on me, it's part of who I am, if that makes sense. Anyway, it was great to be home. On top of just getting a good dose of "home" Chris and I also hosted friends from Phoenix and were their SXSW guides (not that I'm an expert!). It was a crazy week but really fun!
I got to Austin on a Sunday so I had some time to see family and friends, including Sara!, we had an awesome vegetarian lunch and took a nice walk around the lake. My parents hosted a dinner and Settlers of Catan game with my aunt, uncle, cousin, and cousin's boyfriend. Our family is serious about Catan!
Before Chris and our friends arrived I had time to go to a KGSR live broadcast at the W hotel with my mom. The KGSR broadcast (I ended up going again later in the week with Chris and our friends) was probably one of my favorite experiences and I would highly recommend it. The bradcast starts at 6 AM so you have to be getting in line outside by at least 5:30 if you want a good seat. It's painful! But so worth it. There's only a $5 donation charge and you get hot coffee, a light breakfast, and 4 hours of great live music in a fairly intimate setting. You can check out all the performances here. All the bands I saw on Wednesday and Friday morning were great. (I'll list all the bands I'd recommend checking out at the bottom of the post).
We didn't buy passes or wristbands for SXSW, there's so much free music you really don't need to! So my plan of attack was to hit each of the popular areas around downtown. We spent one day on South Congress at the free stage in between Jo's Hot Coffee and Hotel San Jose and at the Guerro's outdoor stage. There's lots of good food on South Congress, including tons of food trucks, like Mighty Cone, and there are interesting shops to browse if you need a break from the music.
The other free stage areas we hit included the Waterloo Records stage (conveniently located next to the amazing flagship Whole Foods and Bookpeople)...
...the Rainey Street area, where we got to do some spray painting! (Also note, my hair is slowwwwly but surely getting longer!)
...the Convention Center, where we checked out some of the expo stuff and checked out all the flyers for events...
...6th street, where we saw Gangstagrass perform, they're a rap/bluegrass band y'all! Love it. I also loved that there was a venue dedicated only to Canadian bands.
...and finally we trekked into east Austin, which was definitely not a cool hangout when I lived in Austin. It used to be pretty sketchy. Now it seems mostly trendy and just kind of sketchy.
The people watching at SXSW is almost another event in itself. I loved seeing all the hipster clothes. I observed the following trends in abundance: skinny jeans, TOMS shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses. Not that I was so unique. I love my Banana Republic skinny jeans, I've been thinking about getting some TOMS, and I've been debating between a pair of Ray Bans or a pair of good quality aviators...but I digress.
Oh, crazy Austin. I definitely can't wait to get back!
Music to check out! Disclaimer: You've probably heard of some or many of these bands. I'd only heard of a few pre-SXSW performance (I'm so out of the loop!) so I'm including everything I saw and liked for the sake of anyone else who might be like me :) All of these bands were great but an * indicates my favorite bands.
Jane Ellen Bryant*, My Jerusalem, The Lumineers*, Michael Kiwanuka, ZZ Ward, Graffiti6, Fun.*,Walk the Moon, Nada Surf, Tom Morello, Charlie Mars*, James Mercer (from The Shins),Houndmouth, David Garza, Bob Schneider, Gangstagrass, Polica*