Travel Hacks

The Recap: The Cure for #SXSW Envy

by Darlene Fiske

Sturgill Simpson performs in a church. All photos by Darlene Fiske.

It's the side effect of big, media-hogging festival like SXSW: You always worry that you're not at the right party. Fathom regular and Austin resident Darlene Fiske sets out to tame her festival FOMO.

AUSTIN, Texas – I live in Austin. And every year, I get major hashtag envy around #SXSW season. This year, I spied photos of my friends watching Coldplay at the iTunes Music Festival on Facebook and saw perfectly styled and filtered photos on Instagram from a Kate Spade New York dinner party. Pick a brand, any brand, and most likely they will have a presence at the 10-day Interactive, Film, and Music festival that ended a few days ago.

So how do you immerse yourself in all that's available? What I've learned is that sometimes the best plan is to have no plan at all. Here's what happened during 48 unexpected hours of SXSW 2014.



Ditched the crowds and ducked into French restaurant Arro for a cocktail. Before my friend joined me, I had a coffee and macarons next door at Walton's Fancy and Staple. The quiet atmosphere was a thing of beauty and wonder.

Went home and watched PitBull perform at the iTunes Music Festival at SXSW. On my sofa. In my PJs. This totally counts as a hash-taggable activity.


I discovered a fabulous band, The Wild Feathers at the Rachael Ray Feedback party. In the rain. The guitarist waved to me. I blushed in my poncho. (That's him in the photo below.)

Almost slit my writs after leaving Blondie to go see my favorite band, Sons of Fathers. Only to learn when we got there that they had cancelled. Boo.


Watched Suzanne Vega perform at the top of Whole Foods Market. While eating a tostada.

I saw Tinariwen, a Saharan blues band perform in a PACKED parking lot at South x San Jose. I think I got a little high just standing in the crowd.

Shared the most divine crab cake, BBQ shrimp, and lobster roll with friends at Perla's on South Congress. Made a new Facebook friend.

I watched Sturgill Simpson and two other bands from Nashville perform in a church. A church. Thank you, Garden & Gun magazine. I worshiped their tunes from the pews.

Was on the verge of a panic attack when my phone died and I couldn't find a taxi at 1 in the morning. #AustinNeedsUber

Sunday Morning

I had a breakfast hamburger for brunch at Josephine House. I couldn't even pronounce the names of the pastries, but I most certainly could devour them.

Had a Michelada in the courtyard at Hotel San Jose. Strolled down South Congress and went junk shopping at Uncommon Objects and visited the new Tom's coffee house and retail store.

Saw more music. Envy subdued.

SXSW Shoes

SXSW Survival Tips

1. Have a few friends in the know on speed dial so they can tell you what bands are a must-see.

2. Meditate before heading out. The crowds are immense, and traffic makes you want to pull your hair out, strand by strand.

3. Select your shoes very carefully because you'll be on your feet trekking around town. My soles were so very grateful for my Supergas.

4. Don't chase the party. Find the brands and bands that interest you and then find out what they have planned and where they will be during SXSW. Neiman Marcus set up a house on Rainey Street filled with music and fashion events, and I didn't know about it until it was too late. It's okay. There's always next year.


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