Hidden gems in the Live Music Capital

Remember that chocolate fondue fountain at the buffet line? The past week at South by Southwest was basically a music fondue experience – amazingly good and continually flowing, seemingly endless good music. It was our first time experiencing the festival, and for SXSW rookies, it can be a pretty stressful experience. At any point of time, there will be 8372837421 events going on – we were told that the best strategy is to find a party with a nice atmosphere and stay throughout. Anyway, we survived. Without passes or wristbands, we still got to see a bunch of amazing stuff including a ton of awesome bands and the grumpy cat (yes the folks at Mashable actually brought the animal over to Austin).

It’s difficult to explain experiencing live, original music at its finest. In fact, just stumbling upon good music because we’ve never heard of many of these bands prior to the festival. Here’s what we’ve learnt – it’s seldom about the famous bands who are scheduled to play, but the rising unknowns that emerge to blow your mind with passion-filled music. Serendipity + music = a beautiful experience.

Here are some of my top picks from the past 2 weeks:

1. The Family Crest (CA) – a band formed through Craigslist, this group has an amazing story with more than 100 members participating in their recordings. Their lead singer has POWERFUL lungs.

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2. Eastern Sea (TX) – they played 6 songs during their set and every song sounded different from the one before.

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3. The Mowgli’s (CA) – apparently they are famous but all I know is that they play such fun music you just want to dance and smile

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4. Mighty Oaks – Berlin-based band with members from all over the world. This is one hidden find since it was their first time ever playing in the US after launching their first ever EP in Europe this year. Great music!

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5. Frances Cone (NY) – Lead singer has a raspy voice which combines beautifully with the harmony of the rest of her group. @Sofarsounds

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6. John Mark Nelson (MN) – I can’t describe this with words; try to put this all together – double bass, guitar, snare, accordion and great harmony @Sofarsounds

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Until the next musical extravaganza!

Car2go

We recently discovered Car2Go, a new form of transportation that redefines urban mobility. It has probably been around for awhile now, launching in the German City of Ulm back in 2008. It’s here in Austin, which is fantastic given how incredibly easy it is to use and get you from A to B.

You sign up for an account and they verify your driving history with your driver’s license. Within 48 hours you get a response and if you’re approved, your personal access card comes into your mail within 3 days.

Once you have your access card, you’re good to go. There’s an App that shows you the cars that are closest to your location. Once you locate it, hit book and you have 30 minutes to get to the car.

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Once you’ve found the car, just tap your card on the dashboard scanner and the doors will be automatically unlocked for you. Viola, your very own car.

Charges are $0.40 per minute. That is all.

We’ve started to use it recently because it gets us around so easily and we don’t have to deal with parking – once you get to the location, you can park at any streetside parking for free. From where we live, it’s usually a 10 minute driving radius to wherever we want to get to – that’s just $4 with no parking fees. It’s a great concept for urban mobility. Car sharing, “public” transportation, and just great value to the users.

I wonder if there are major regulations which prevents the expansion of this service to more countries/cities globally?

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p.s. in case you were wondering how things like fuel top-up works, any user that tops up the tank (when it’s under 20%) gets incentivized with free driving minutes. Brilliant.