SXSW Part 2 An (un)Expected Journey

This is the continuation of the account of my SXSW trip. I shall call it SXSW trip day two, an (un)expected journey. I tried to go to bed at a decent hour Friday night, but I found it difficult by what was going in the rooms on each side of me. I tweeted the following at 10:50pm.

@philstasyszen: So I’m staying in a hotel and I’m pretty sure I’m hearing the person next door snoring. I guess it’s  better than some things I could hear

It was an attempt at a little humor, but I was also being serious. Around midnight, the group of girls that were in the other room next to me got back from whatever party they were at and were loudly talking about all sorts of non-covenant things until about 1am, and then they had the audacity to wake up early as well. Not only did they keep me up late, they woke me up before my alarm. Anyway, enough of that experience, let’s get on to the good stuff.


As I mentioned in part one of this post, I did this trip on a whim; and the part I wish I had researched a little more was parking layout. Somehow though, despite my lack of research, I stumbled upon a really good parking area.  Parking cost me $20; I had prepared myself to expect $50.  I was so glad it wasn’t that insane.  Now this trip was based around being able to see The Vespers; and when I planned out my agenda, they were scheduled to play at 3pm, but I didn’t have the location.  On the drive down, I was informed that their earlier show had been cancelled.  This really bummed me out, because I was excited about finally seeing them again.  Now if I were going to make that happen, I was going have to push myself to stay until almost midnight.  That might have been easier if party girls hadn’t kept me awake late on Friday night.


I arrived around 12:15 and I had seen a schedule that Ivan and Alyosha was playing at 12:30.  I thought, I can make that no problem; but I kind of underestimated how far the festival stretched out. So I hoofed it down 6th st and found the location they were playing.  I made it about 10 minutes late. 



The thing I figured out quickly is that each band’s set was 30 minutes long and they promptly started them and ended them on time.  I also noticed a sign as I was heading in to hear them play that said “free show, no wristband needed.” This concerned me; I was prepared to pay for each show, but I didn’t have  wristband.  I wasn’t going to worry about it at that moment; instead I was going to enjoy Ivan & Alyosha.  They put on a really great show.  Their lead singer was named Ryan, and he was kind enough to talk to me after the show.  He told me they’d be playing again a little later at another stage.  I told him that I would love to come, but I wasn’t sure about the wristband situation.



Since the Vespers set got cancelled at 3, the next show on my agenda was Leagues.  I had been pretty excited about their album “You Belong Here,” so I was pretty excited to see them live.  This was also going to be my moment of truth on whether I had been stupid in planning this trip last minute.  I stood in a line to try to get in, when I got up to the door the guy looked me in the eye but not at my wrists and waved me in. (crisis averted)  I stayed in this one location for a few hours and saw a variety bands, including Ivan and Alyosha for a second time.  Ryan saw me and patted me on the back and said, “I see you got in.” Made me feel good that he remembered my plight.

So I said it would be difficult for me to be able to stay late enough to see the Vespers, well I got to hang out with them at a couple of shows instead.  Leagues didn’t disappoint; I only wished they were able to play a longer set.  I was interested in hearing how some of their songs translated to a live set; but it was still awesome to see them live.



The guys from the Vespers asked me if I had ever seen Moon Taxi.  Having never taken a lunar excursion, I said no. That made me look uncool.  So they were deadset on introducing me to their greatness.  I have to say that it was quite enjoyable; if one of you ever reads this, thanks for introducing me to them.076

Not many people will get the inside joke behind this picture. Michael Gilliam this is for you.


After the Moon Taxi show, it was time to part way with my friends so they could prepare for their own show.  The next show I was headed to was Pearl and the Beard.  I just recently discovered this treasure a couple of months back, and I was very much looking forward to this set.  I had let them know through Twitter that I was making the 7 hour drive to see them play.  They didn’t disappoint in the least.  The show was great from the start, and then Jocelyn made reference to me driving so far and then she and Emily made a big deal of it from the stage.  It made the drive that much more worth it.  They took the time after playing to talk to me and revealed themselves to be just awesome people.  The whole trip was worth just this experience.

pearl and the beard


pearl and me


At this point, it was close to 8pm; and I had a 3 hour drive back to Dallas ahead of me.  I had been standing for nearly 8 hours and I was getting pretty tired.  There were a few more bands that I wanted to see, and I was still considering pushing myself to 11 to stay for the Vespers show.  But I decided it just wouldn’t be worth falling asleep while driving.  One more band that was playing at 8 was Johnnyswim.  I had them on my list of must see, and a band that I would have built the 7 hour drive around if their hadn’t been others.  If I had to walk a good distance, I would have missed a good chunk of the show; but I noticed that they were playing really close by.  I am glad that I decided to go ahead and put in another 30 minutes.  They put on a really cool acoustic set with just the two of them.  It was a lot different than anything that I had heard earlier in the day, and it was a very nice end to the experience. They had another set to play in a couple of hours after they had finished the one I was able to get to, but they still took the time to say hi to me after the show.  They asked me if I could stay for their next set, and said they would put me on their guest list to be sure that I could get in; I told them that I felt very honored, but I had to get on the road because I had a long drive ahead of me.  They were very kind to take a picture with me as well.



It was a whirlwind and very exhausting trip, but I had such an amazing time that it more than made up for the lack of sleep.  I don’t think this will be my last SXSW.

What’s the best concert you’ve ever been too?  Do you have a band that I need to check out?

4 Responses to “SXSW Part 2 An (un)Expected Journey”

  1. Sounds like you had an awesome time! It would have been fun to be surrounded by such great music. Favorite concert? I don’t know. I think the one I was most excited about was the 1st one I went to because I was in 7th grade and I felt so grown up. It was Michael W. Smith with DC Talk opening. That makes me feel old, right there! 🙂
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    • philip says:

      It was a fantastic experience. I would love to do it again and actually plan for it next time. No shame in Smitty and Decent Christian Talk. One of my favorites was Audio A and dc Talk.

  2. Pretty freaking cool that you were able to be spontaneous and strike out on an adventure like that. And even though you weren’t able to see Taylor and co. perform it’s awesome you were able to hang with them for a bit and see some cool bands.

    Favorite concert was probably Ryan Adams & The Cardinals at the Egyptian Theater in Charlottesville, VA. Speaking of Charlottesville and the Vespers, I need to tell you the story of when I accidentally saw them play in Charlottesville on my anniversary. It was one of the coolest things ever.
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    • philip says:

      Yeh it was a lot of fun. Just being in the middle of all of that was an experience all its own, but hearing the bands on top of it was amazing. I would love to hear that story for sure, and Ryan Adams would be a sweet show! Thanks Stephen!