Talking SXSW with Spank Rock, HAIM, The Drums, and Others

In the middle of the madness and mayhem of Austin’s SXSW is the core of what runs this festival: the musicians. Often lost behind free drink lines and giant Dorito Ads these artists travel from all over the globe just to have a chance to perform. The majority of them don’t get paid and some aren’t even booked to play on a stage but the allure of a chance to get seen and heard is enough to warrant long travel and an exhausting week.

It became quickly apparent that within the community of musicians at SXSW there are two camps. The veterans, those who have played the festival more than once and were no longer jaded to the double edged sword that SXSW has become, but still grateful to have a chance to come back. And the newcomers, those who were at the festival for the first time whose excitement and exhilaration still pulsed through them and who were nothing but thrilled just to be there.

The Veterans:
Spank Rock
When we knocked on the door where Naeem Juwan aka MC Spank Rock was staying, it became quickly apparent that everyone in the house including Naeem was sleeping. We felt horrible to have woken everyone up but were told it was fine. Naeem had a long day of interviews and shows ahead of him and we were just the beginning. Naeem came out in his sweatpants and hoodie and laid down on the couch diagonally across from us. This was Spank Rock’s fourth year performing at SXSW. A true veteran, he’s experienced the transformation of both the festival and the feeling of performing:

“The first time no one cares and no one knows who you are and if you do something that grabs someone’s attention it’s very exciting. It’s fun because every experience is new and magical. And the second time around no matter what you do you’re in this world of criticism and competition. The musicians that make the festival the festival, they don’t get much out of it. SXSW looks so good because it’s all based on marketing.”

Despite his qualms with the corporatism of the festival he is grateful to be back. It isn’t all bad he explains “Sometimes you get to see a show that’s magical, like last night Andrew WK, that was magical, so it’s a love hate relationship.”

The Drums
We met The Drums in a parking lot outside of Lustre Pearl, the venue they were about to play. There is no quiet space in downtown Austin during SXSW so much so that even the parking lot deemed too loud to conduct an interview in. We ended up going across the street to sit on the stoop of “The Palm School”, an all white concrete building close to the entrance of interstate I-35. Something about singer Johnny Peirce and synth player Jacob Graham, the two founding members of The Drums, made us instantly comfortable.

Johnny and Jacob have known each other since childhood and are now, not only in a widely successful band together, but live down the street from each other in the East Village. “We’ve lived strangely identical lives” Johnny told us. They both grew up in a strict religious household, their brothers have the same name, they both bought their first synth at the same time, and were both listening to Kraftwerk in a time when everyone else around them was listening to Nirvana. “When you meet someone like that you kind of have to hold on to it.”

Both Johnny and Jacob gave a similar account as Spank Rock did when talking about the festival. “SXSW has outgrown itself and they need to learn how to deal with that. They don’t take care of their artists. Like they literally push you out onto the street as soon as your set is done.” It blew my mind when they told us that, but at the same time made sense to the feeling I had been getting in the last day or so. The truth is each year the festival keeps getting larger but the city that holds it remains the same size creating overflow in the streets and venues that can’t hold the amount of people who come out to see bands play. “You feel like cattle” Johnny stated, and as someone who nearly cried in a bathroom from the overwhelming anxiety of being out on the streets I completely concur.

Elizabeth and The Catapult
This was Elizabeth Ziman’s third year playing SXSW. Her story was one of the success stories you hear about that keep bands coming back to Austin every March. Her first year performing at the festival she was discovered by Verve records and signed soon after (she is no longer signed to Verve). “Two years ago I got signed, Last year I had the whole, ‘get interviewed and get free shit thing’, and this year I’m playing this one really nice show and then am just hanging around and going to all of my friends shows.” Elizabeth was more content and happy to just be able to be in Austin and have a chance to see her friends play than be affected by the insanity that is SXSW. She did however inform us of the lack of sound checks "I’ve been at SXSW for a couple of years now and I’ve played gigs where I can’t hear myself at all. I’m playing in this church this year so I think it will be really nice though.But you just show up knowing what you’re in for, wear a ridiculous outfit, and have fun."

New Comers:
HAIM
HAIM is a sister trio consisting of three hilarious and talented ladies Alana, Danielle, and Este Haim from Los Angeles plus a drummer Dash Hutton. We were lucky enough to be able to go thrifting with the girls at this awesome vintage boutique located across the river away from the Downtown crowd called Feathers. It couldn’t have been a more perfect place to get to know the three of them.

"So many bands have come out of New York and we really feel that there is finally this great community of people who are coming out of LA” Alana, the youngest of the three sisters, told us. “All of our bros are out here; Harriet, White Arrows, Milo Green, Superhumanoids. We all want to get to the same point, and when we get to that point then we can tour together.” Este, the eldest, exclaimed and then added, “We need more girl bands though. We love our dudes, but we need more ladies.”

Radiation City
Radiation City was formed by Lizzy Ellison and Cameron Spies after meeting about four years ago while Cameron, a Portland native, was living in San Francisco. He was about to move back to Portland in order to start a band with Lizzy, when at a show in West Oakland he ran into a childhood friend who was coincidentally playing the same show with Radiation City’s now drummer Randy Bemrose the duo quickly became a trio. The rest of the band, which includes bassist Matt Rafferty and singer/keyboardist Patti King, came together organically over the next year or so. “We have the luxury of getting along really well” Lizzy stated. “It’s been like the best relationship ever. No break ups or anything.”

Despite being Radiation City’s first time performing at SXSW the band came to the festival fully prepared for the craziness they were about to face. “It’s kind of everything I’ve anticipated just from stories I’ve heard. It’s pretty similar to CMJ which we had just performed at last October, except ten times bigger and ten times more insane.” Lizzy told us. “But I really enjoy playing and really enjoy meeting the people who are throwing the events, because I think behind all the drunkeness and ridiculousness there are really good people throwing really great shows and supporting really amazing bands.”

Illustrate
A week before the festival Josh Board aka Illustrate set up a fundraising show/event at Franklin Park in Brooklyn in order to help him make it to Austin.

When he finally got to Austin alongside his friend and hype man Nick Spinale, he had no idea what he was in for. The initial reaction was a whole lot of excitement and just as equal shock. “Everything I see out here is really amazing!” he exclaimed, “I feel like a small ass fish in an overpopulated pond. I feel so lucky to be here, Just the fact that I have an artists badge, I’m like Yeahhh Motherfucker! The most love I got was on the street and that shit was beautiful.” he told us. The harsh reality of an overcrowded festival hit smaller showcases hard. People tended to show up more for the drink specials and free swag than for the acts that were playing, which lended to lukewarm audiences. But for Josh it provided a much needed push forward. “Maybe we weren’t quite ready this year, but I’m so glad we did it because next year we’re going hard."

BBook x SXSW: Check Ya Later, Austin!

Despite the long lines on Thursday, my faith has been restored in the music at the festival due to one band, HAIM (pronounced Hi-yum). This sister trio from Los Angeles KILLED IT. If Patti Smith had started a band with her two sisters, this is what it would have sounded like. At the end of the performance each girl put down their instrument, picked up a drum stick and went at it on individual drums they had in front of them creating the SICKEST drum solo EVER! It was AMAZING! By far the best performance we’ve seen all week.

On a music high from the HAIM performance, Lorenna and I took the night by storm and headed out onto the streets to see what was up in the world of Austin. The crowds surprisingly seemed a little less intense then they have the whole week, which was a huge relief. But the ability to get into a show at night was still just as difficult. A friend of Lorenna’s texted her saying that Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine was holding an Occupy Austin event on the streets not far from where we were. We were intrigued and headed down there.

A small group of people formed in front of the Swan Dive bar where Tom Morello stood welcoming everyone to the event and introducing Outernational, the band who stood behind him. He then headed back inside and Outernational took the stage. The crowd grew a little bigger and out of the corner of my eye I saw a medium-sized march happening to my left. It was at this point that we had realized midnight marked the six-month birthday of the movement. The march was led by people carrying a huge banner that read “Fuck the Police.” Outernational screamed, “Tonight we sing fighting songs!” and encouraged people to raise their fists. I felt weary about the whole thing and once the crowd started chanting “Fuck the police” I started to feel sad.

The Occupy movement I knew was a peaceful one. The marches that I had been in were so beautiful they brought me to tears. We stood side by side with students and doctors: all of us equal, all of us understanding that something needed to change or we were in trouble. After all of the craziness that has gone down all over this country with police beating and abusing protesters, there is a part of me that can understand the “fuck the police” sentiment. But you don’t start there. You don’t start with hate. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” I don’t live in Austin, I don’t know their politics or their movements and I only have this one moment to base anything on. But all I saw watching that rally last night was a lot of angry people looking for a reason to scream at authority. That passion of peace, the passion of change, that wasn’t there. Choose love first. Don’t be angry just for the sake of it, it never gets you anywhere.

When we left the rally we decided we were going to attempt to get into a party or a showcase of bands we wanted to see. But the red lights and out-of-tune singing of a karaoke bar lured us in and there we found ourselves. Karaoke is the most underrated fun in the world. It is so hysterical and if it wasn’t so expensive in New York I would do it every night.

Our car was a million miles away and it was already after one, so we agreed to eat the expense and take a pedi-cab. This was only my second time being in one, and I am both terrified and exhilarated by them. For those of you who don’t know, a pedi-cab is a carriage seat attached to a bike. I have a hard enough time carrying my own ass on a bike, so I could not even begin to imagine toting someone else’s as well! Those kids’ thighs are rock solid.

Friday was an eventful and amazing day. We had three interviews with three amazing bands/performers: HAIM, Radiation City, and Illustrate. We’ll post those in a larger piece including our interviews with Spank Rock, The Drums, and Elizabeth and the Catapult. Every band/person we interviewed was so awesome, sweet, funny, intelligent, and insanely talented. I want to be friends with all y’all in real life, please!

During one of our interviews, we headed to this area in downtown Austin across the river that had a bajillion of the most amazing thrift/vintage stores. Our wallets are not so happy about what happened because of this, but our closets are super psyched. While standing outside interviewing my new favorite band/ladies HAIM, a bird pooped on me. As a result, I had no sweater to wear that night and was freezing, but I guess it means I’ll have good luck forever, right?

After spending too much money, we headed back downtown to see the band Radiation City play. Those of you who have been keeping up with our posts will understand how I feel about this band with just these few insights. They have two chicks on keyboards, multiple singers, and beautiful tuneage that I want to sing along to. I mean, I’m in love. Add in the fact that they also happen to be super awesome people just makes me want to have their musical babies.

We really lucked out with getting into really unbelievable performances yesterday. From Radiation City to Elizabeth and the Catapult my heart is filled with lady love. Elizabeth and the Catapult played at St. David’s, which is a giant church in the middle of downtown Austin. It was a pretty intense and amazing way to watch an artist like Elizabeth. Her voice and songs are so beautiful they make me cry and dance at the same time. In full disclosure, she is actually my sister’s roommate and a friend of Lorenna’s and mine, and we love her so much. They were having some sound difficulties and for some reason they couldn’t get her keyboard to turn on for the first half of her set. That poor girl handled it with the greatest sense of humor and cracked all of us up as she dealt with the ridiculousness of the situation. Did I say I love her yet? I love her!

We managed to get into the Flatbush Zombies show which was awesome, but by midnight a wall of exhaustion hit both Lorenna and me. St. Patrick’s day at SXSW lived up to its horror, and being out on the streets just proved to be a miserable experience. We were ready to get out of there. But not before spending another thirty minutes navigating our way through drunken pedestrian traffic with a car, which was just as awful as it sounds. We drove a friend of Lorenna’s (who is also a former editor at BlackBook) Nadeska Alexis (check her out at Rapfix) back to her hotel, and by the time we got home we were both so cracked-out that we could barely get out of the car because we were laughing so hard.

This experience has been equally as amazing and ridiculous as it was exhausting. I will never forget it for the rest of my life and am eternally grateful to have been able to do it along side my best friend in the world. In conclusion if you are going to make the trip to SXSW, be prepared. Know what you are getting yourself into, maybe only stay for a couple of days, and make sure to wear good shoes (my poor feet).

BBook x SXSW: Austin Starts To Wear Us Down

SXSW, you have hit me like a ton of bricks and all I want to do is sleep and be submerged in silence. I am exhausted. In real life I don’t go out, staying up late is being awake until midnight, and I don’t drink. Partying was something I got out of my system in my early twenties, and I have never had the desire to do it again. SXSW is awesome because it is a forum for people to showcase their creativity in this crazy concentrated world for five days. I am all down for that. What I am not so much all down for is the massive — and I mean MASSIVE — crowds of drunk people 24/7. I am completely fascinated as an observer of this madness, but after three days I’m beginning to lose steam and patience am utterly and completely worn down.

Maybe it’s because I am so beat, or maybe it’s because everyone else is too, but for some reason yesterday was pretty meh music-wise. Out of the seven acts we saw, only two of them were good.

We were both really amped to finally get a chance to check out the Fader Fort, which is pretty much its own mini-festival within the festival itself. It was awesome. There were two outdoor open bars, a room with about six mattresses lined with pillows and separated by charging stations for your phone, porch swings, lawn chairs, and free copies of Fader scattered all over the place. Our initial thought was, Wow, Fader, you really know how to do it up. We grabbed a couple of drinks (when in Rome) and got comfy on a mattress with an issue of the magazine. There was an opening in the room we were in that framed the stage, and so for the first couple of acts we watched in leisure. Nothing stirred us to get up; in fact the exact opposite happened.

About an hour later, Nite Jewel came on. We got off our butts and headed to the stage, excited to finally get to see some good music. The singer Ramona Gonzalez started off the set by making kind of a backhanded jab at the acts that went on before her. “We aren’t a blues band, but that’s okay,” she stated. At that point I honestly couldn’t tell if it was condescending or not, but after comments made throughout the set like, “We drove here from Dallas,” to which people in the crowd who were clearly from Dallas cheered and she responded, “We are definitely not from Dallas, Dallas has a lot of freeways, and that’s all I have to say about that,” it was clear. I’m never a supporter of blatant condescension but it’s one thing to be condescending and still be killing it on stage. It’s a complete other thing to give a lackluster, slightly off-tune performance and then rag on the audience in between songs. Throughout the whole set Ramona just seemed to be in her own world and not so interested in being on stage. I really desperately wanted to like Nite Jewel; in fact I even really loved the music that was going on behind her. But every time she started to sing something seemed off. Despite being disappointed in the live performance and the attitude that went a long with it, I’m not counting them out. I think I might actually really enjoy the album itself, but oy. And that’s all I have to say about that.

The only good performance that we saw in the four hours that we were in the Fader Fort was Zola Jesus. This is going to sound super cheesy and new agey, but Zola Jesus is one of those rare performers along the lines of Stevie Nicks and Tori Amos whose soul emanates through her voice. The whole set was beautiful and she is just the coolest. Her white dress, white hair, and pale complexion just added to her mystique, and she radiated some crazy energy on stage. The performance was almost able to make up for the rest of the acts that went on before her.

I am really hoping that I am able to turn my mindset around, after all we are really lucky to be here.

Remember to follow us on instagram and twitter (@lorennags) and check out Lorenna’s Flickr for more photos. 

BBook x SXSW: The Universe Comes Together in Austin

This is by far the most insane experience of my entire life. I didn’t think it was possible, but this place got even crazier today than it was yesterday. More people are arriving for the music portion of the festival and the streets are overflowing. Last night Lorenna and I decided to just walk around and take in the scenes. We must have looked like we were on drugs because we were literally walking around with our mouths dropped and our eyes wide open, bumping into each other and tripping every five seconds. There is so much to take in, and no matter which direction you go in or how far down you walk, it just keeps going. It’s like Austin has transformed itself into this really weird, diverse night club. I mean there are lasers and smoke machines all over the streets! I am in awe of it all. I don’t know how y’all do this every year Austin — you guys must sleep for the other eleven months just to prepare yourselves.

We started our day by hitting up a performance of our good friend Sam Obey (aka Obey City), who was DJing at the Live For the Funk party at the Soho House. Per usual, he got us both groovin’ on the dance floor. It’s never too early to dance, people! Sam will be DJing for the Flatbush Zombies for the rest of SXSW, so if you get a chance, go check him out and get your groove on.

After grabbing some good eats at El Sol Y La Luna (a Mexican place that has vegan chorizo? Yes please!), we made our first SXSW mistake and decided to chill on a bench and enjoy the mild weather. What we should have been doing was heading to the Under The Radar party. Apparently, whether you are on the list or not, if you show up to a large showcase a half-hour before an act you want to see, you will end up waiting on line for an hour and miss it. But don’t worry, all was not lost because eventually we did get in and were able to see two AMAZING bands: The Love Language and The Drums.

The Love Language contains all things I love in a band. Multiple singers, a chick on a keyboard, and tunes that make me want to be a superfan and know all of the words to every song, so I can sing along with them while dancing my buns off. Then there was The Drums. OMG THE DRUMS! I want to listen to every single song by them in front of a giant video of the lead singer Johnny Pierce swaying his hips and waving his finger all day everyday for the rest of my life. I’m so excited and giddy for the opportunity to sit down with them this Friday.

God I missed live music. Going to shows and discovering new bands used to be such a huge part of my life. Somewhere along the line I just got tired and busy with life and work, and all of my passion for new music was just kind of shelved. I became more interested in discovering old tunes and then eventually just nothing at all. At the very least I will have gained from this SXSW experience a reminder of the importance of music in my life.

After a day full of dancing we were starving. On our first night here, we discovered the most amazing Thai restaurant on San Jacinto Boulevard called Mai Thai. Lorenna and I eat Thai food maybe three times a week on the regs, and this was by far the best Thai we have ever had. When contemplating what we would eat for dinner last night we both looked at each other and at the same time said “Mai Thai?” slightly cautious and both hoping that the other would agree that this would be a place we’d hit up every day this week. Thank God we are forever on the same page because, no joke, this shizz is deelish!

Once we were good and full, we began our night of exploration and walked everywhere. On our journey we bumped into Sam again and headed to the only empty bar on 6th Street where Lorenna complained about the music volume and we discussed how we may have just entered the lamest bar in Austin. Sam’s friend DJ Morris was DJing a show all the way across town, so we left the bar and walked and walked and walked. Never once on our walk did the street party stop. No matter how far we went there was always something crazy going on. When we got to the bar we met up with more friends from home. All of us are here to either perform or report on the festival. Somehow the universe has led us all to the same path and here we are in Texas getting ready to take this shit to the next level. Life, you amaze me.

I can’t believe this is still only the beginning. Check ya tomorrow world!

BBook x SXSW: Trashing & Laughing Around Austin

SXSW, you cah-razy! This place is unreal. Everywhere you turn there is something to do, see, and hear. There is music coming out of every store, every bar, every everything. People are rapping on street corners to the beat of a bucket drummer or playing an impromptu set on the side of the road. It’s hard to imagine what downtown Austin would be like without all of this action—it just seems so second nature for this city. All of this creativity just belongs here. It’s pretty amazing.

We more or less didn’t have a plan of attack yesterday. We were just going to head into the madness and see what happened. I’m so glad we did, because the freedom and spontaneity of it all is so much a part of this experience. In literally a matter of minutes after arriving we began bumping into people we know from all different phases of our lives. The weirdest part is that they were all people that we haven’t seen in years. So insane!

Austin's chariots of fire

This afternoon we went to a screening of a documentary called Trash Dance directed by Andrew Garrison. It was unbelievable and incredibly beautiful and moving. Both Lorenna and I were bawling throughout the whole thing! The documentary follows choreographer Allison Orr as she begins her journey on creating The Trash Project. The Trash Project’s initiative was to create a performance out of 24 sanitation workers and 16 various sanitation vehicles by getting to know the people whose job it is to collect our trash and the machines they use to do it. Allison integrates herself into Austin’s Solid Waste Services department in order to convince the people who work there to agree to be a part of this performance. There she not only creates relationships with all of the workers, but also begins to learn the trade hands-on and goes on rides with all of the various sects within the department.

'Trash Dance' screening

You get to know these people as individuals, hear their life stories and passions, and watch how their hesitation to be a part of this project turns into genuine excitement. While all of them seem to really enjoy their jobs from the get-go, I really believe that Allison has enlightened them to the art of what they do and shifted their perceptions of their everyday routine. In the end the performance that they put on is so visceral. Who knew garbage trucks could be so graceful and beautiful?! I love all of the people in this movie. All of them. Like I said before if you have an opportunity to see Trash Dance, DO IT!

After drying our tear-drenched faces, we headed out into the streets for more adventures and ended up meeting up with an old friend from high school. Sometimes it takes seeing someone who you haven’t seen or spoken to in almost ten years to really feel how much growth and change happens after those weird years of schooling. It was really nice to catch up with our friend and even better to recognize the latter.

UCB's All Stars of Improv

From our blast from the past we headed to Esther’s Follies to go see the UCB All Stars of Improv show. It was a combination of people from both the NY and LA UCB Improv teams including Chris Gethard, Shannon O’Neill, and Joe Wengert, with Pete Holmes as the monologist. I love UCB so much. I somehow always forget that it’s an option of something to do in New York unless my husband (who takes classes there and is a sketch comedian/writer) is going to a show. (Shout out the hubby, HEY BEN HEYYY!!!) The only thing that gets to me at any comedy show is the audience. All you people out there who laugh really loudly when nothing funny has even happened yet: CUT IT OUT! Anyway, it was a lot of fun and really funny.

From this point forward everyday is jam packed with so much music, fun, and friends. We will be getting exclusive interviews with so many amazing artists such as Spank Rock, The Drums, HAIM, Elizabeth and the Catapult, Illustrate and more! We are so excited for what’s to come and you should be too!

Austin at night

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@lorennags) and for more amazing photos of our trip check out Lorenna’s Flickr.

BBook x SXSW: The Road to Austin is Long & Terrifying

Austin, we’ve arrived! It took us forty-two hours to get to you, but we did it! I’m pretty sure the thing I’m most excited about is getting to sleep in a bed. That and showering, because boy, do we smell (and look like something beautiful). Yesterday, after marathon-driving all night, we finally stopped at 6:30 in the morning and went to a hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas, where we slept….in the parking lot….for an hour. Our poor bodies.

on the road

Now let me tell you a little something about Arkansas, and my apologies to anyone who lives there, but I’m sure you would agree, don’t go there. First of all it scares the heebie jeebies out of me. I don’t know what it is but both Lorenna and I got the same creeped-out feeling as soon as we arrived. It didn’t help that seconds before crossing the border from Memphis we saw the biggest pyramid in America, which is abandoned and dark and so, so scary. Or the fact that it was 5am and we were both starting to come down from five hour energy highs and head into a state of delirium. Regardless, something about Arkansas has a children of the corn, scary man with one tooth gonna jump into the road from a field, kind of feel to it.

arkansas

blogging

The weirdest thing that just added to the whole eeriness of everything was the fact that the sun didn’t come out until almost 8:30am. We kept driving and waiting to see the sunrise but nothing, we stopped and slept and expected to be woken up by the morning sun..NOTHING. Why does day start so late for you Arkansas??? Please, someone tell us why!! I will say this, they have a nice coffee shop called the Java Joint where you can lounge on couches for hours and get some work done while eating delicious steel oats. But until someone enlightens us to anything otherwise, I think we’re both pretty set in recommending to maybe just choosing another state to vacay in. Needless to say it was a glorious moment when we crossed into Texas.

lorenna texas road

So, now we are in Austin settling in at the place we are calling home for the next five days and neither of us can wait to head downtown and finally, FINALLY, start our SXSW experience. See y’all down there!

BBook x SXSW: Two Days on the Open Road

Holy shit, can you believe it? After an insane week filled with sleepless nights and crazy life shifting events here we are. Nothing but open road, laughter, twelve years of friendship, and music to keep us company. THIS IS SO COOL! A week ago I was getting ready to leave my job of two years while Lorenna was preparing for a huge issue close, and now we’re in Tennessee. Lorenna’s head is pressing against the steering wheel just so she can see the road and this overwhelming feeling that crept in as soon as we left Brooklyn is ever present. Possibilities are endless and the future is ours to create. Life is so crazy!

Our tiny car that we’ve lovingly begun referring to as our egg on wheels is overflowing with our belongings. A true testament to our deep desire to be girls — a girl has gotta have outfit options, am I right, ladies? Rumor has it that it’s going to rain the entire time we’re in Austin. I mean, really, Universe? Give us some sunshine so we can break out those summer clothes we’ve been so dying to wear.

Our adventure has only just begun and we’re already taking home so many new life lessons. Like, for instance, did you know that if you say Cracker Barrel in an exaggerated Southern accent every time you see one, it will entertain you forever? Or how about the fact that people who own iPhones have a leg up in the world (unlike me — I’m still living in 2003)? But the most important life lesson of all is that road trips are the ultimate BEST!

Speaking of iPhones, if you happen to have one and are planning to go on a road trip, do yourself a favor and download the app for Roadside America. It is DA BOMB! Unless of course you’re super lame and haven’t spent your whole life dreaming of getting to see giant replicas of ordinary objects.

Well, we’re making dreams come true on this trip and so we headed to Wytheville, Virginia, the home of the world’s second largest pencil, and it was awesome! I have to say though. as cool as the giant pencil was, nothing could rival our next detour: DOLLYWOOD! I know! Here’s the thing: the actual theme park was closed and also seemed to be hidden behind what could have been a mall parking lot, but I don’t care. It was still amazing because, hello, it’s Dollywood! 

There are so many crazy things to see and do en route, but the reality is we need to be in Austin by this afternoon. So, we’re loading up on five hour energy drinks and praying that neither of us fall asleep at the wheel. 

Two days down and eight more to go. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Remember: for live insight of our journey follow @lorennags on Twitter and Instagram. 

Take a Roadtrip to South By Southwest With BlackBook!

This is Lorenna (on the right — that’s me Sara on the left). She is by far the most ridiculous person I know. She also happens to be the photo editor of this here magazine. But most importantly she’s my BFF. We’ve been best friends since we were 14, we are both currently 26 and lemme tell ya: a lot of life happens in those formative years.

When we were in our early twenties we were the COOLEST. OK, maybe just in our own heads. Regardless, we lived life like it was our job. We listened to all the cool music, made it our business to go to all the cool shows, and took road trips whenever we felt like it (what’s up with making owning a car here so impossible NYC?). I mean just read that last sentence — could we be more awesome? Then growing up started to happen, and responsibilities became a thing that we couldn’t ignore anymore. All of the sudden we were adults. I got married, Lorenna got a REAL job, and "fun" became watching Netflix while eating an entire vegan pizza and soy milkshakes. Life became more about surviving than living.

Well, NO MORE! We are taking this into our own hands and ending this adventure slump right now! Tomorrow we will embark on the most epic journey of our lives by getting back on the road for a 27-hour drive to one of the biggest craziest festivals in the country: SXSW.  Get excited because we’re taking you with us…figuratively. I’m sure you’re all really fun, but there’s only so much room in one car.

Everyday we will update you on our journey as we explore the creative hub that is Austin, Texas. It is our goal to find the best of the best at SXSW from bands, people, food, movies and everything in between. We will be your SXSW guide to Awesome. After all, we are super cool.  So please join in on the fun, and check back here everyday.  

You can also follow us real time on Twitter and Instagram (@lorennags). If you’re going to be down there, or you’ve been down there before, tweet at us with your suggestions and questions!