Still Right Here With You: 8 Shows with The Pink Stones at SXSW 2024

I’m known to engage in some unreasonable live music fandom from time to time. Following 311 on summer tours in high school and college on the MA-RI-CT-NY-NJ circuit in various orders. Flying to London for the “last ever” Carter USM show…twice (2007 & 2014). All four nights of the epic July 2010 Benji Hughes residency at Largo. The legendary 2013 “no repeat1” quartet of Jeff Tweedy solo shows, also at Largo.

Since moving to Austin, SXSW upped this to new heights whenever the ides of March roll around. Most years I adopt a band I like and try to see them as many times as possible over a magical week. Smooth Hound Smith in 2016 (4 times). Spiral Stairs in 2017 (3). Caroline Rose in 2018 (4). Hayes Carll in 2019 (4). The Nude Party in 2023 (5).2

2024 brought a record that will likely never be broken: I saw all eight sets The Pink Stones played, including four in a 27-hour whirlwind.3

Who are The Pink Stones besides the best live band you’ve never heard of? A cosmic country / power pop hybrid from Athens, Georgia. Their debut album Introducing… The Pink Stones (in my 2021 top 10) sounds like a trippier version of A.M. era Wilco, while 2023 sophomore album You Know Who (in my top 6 last year) is simultaneously more and less country in ways best explained via a Pink Stones lyric as “something I found, and I can’t describe it.

The lineup has changed between records / between tours. SXSW 2024 featured core members Hunter Pinkston (Pinkston = Pink Stone, get it?) on vocals & guitar, Adam Wayton on bass, drummer Gideon Johnston and Neil Golden on keys.

Since I like dancing about architecture, read on for show by show reminiscing with rankings.

First Show: Weds, 3/13/24Colton House Hotel, 2:30pm

“Now I’m out on my own and I’m free, having my fun…”

Opening day of SXSW is one of my favorites of the year. It’s early spring and I take a full or a half day off work to dip a toe in the matinee live music pool before the undertow grabs hold for a draining binge of bands in rapid succession. Fitting I kicked it off with The Pink Stones at the Meanwhile in Music event on the back porch of the Colton House Hotel.

Set was just shy of an hour, a mix of new songs, covers and You Know Who tracks. (Last year was also mostly You Know Who but a month or so before release day, so this was my first experience hearing these as songs I knew.)

An Adam Boyle quote4 goes here.

Highlight was hearing my favorite track “Time’s Standing Still” for the first of 6 times over the week. I think Hunter noticed my visible excitement when the riff started, and it singlehandedly justified my “no haircut until after SXSW” rule. After the set Hunter found me in the crowd of ~60 and thanked me for coming. As a bonus, The Pink Stones were also the backing band for a solo set by Riley Downing from The Deslondes immediately after.

Rank: #3

Second Show: Thurs, 3/14/24 — The White Horse, 10pm

“Let’s move it along, let’s keep on rolling…”

Oddly my first time at The White Horse over my decade in Austin. Almost went so many times before but didn’t, closest call being a late night secret American Aquarium show I regret skipping.5

Tonight it was packed, with The Pink Stones opening for The Deslondes and both bands getting rare for SXSW full sets just shy of two hours each.

I ran into Hunter upon entering the venue. He said he wasn’t sure how they’d fill the lengthy time allotted. I humbly put in a request for “The Ballad of Jimmy Meadows” from their 2019 Jimmy & Jesus single6. He said this version of the band didn’t know it, but they might do the b-side “Jesus & Peterbilt.” Fine by me.

Jesus didn’t make the cut, but he had a cameo when birthday boy keyboardist Neil Golden quipped “It’s my 33rd birthday. I’ve lived longer than Jesus, but I’m not saying how much longer.” (Minor spoiler: he’s not 33…)

Toughest part about The White Horse is navigating the dance floor, standing just close enough to see/hear the band without getting crashed into by two-steppers while politely declining invitations to join in. Think I navigated it well enough mostly standing like a statue on the fringes while singing along to make it clear it’s hard to get around someone you can’t move.

The expanded 22-song set added a few more Texas themed covers (including a great “Little Ole Wine Drinker Me” by Merle Haggard), my two other favorite tracks off Introducing… (“Miss Wind Turbine” & “Blueberry Dream”), nine of the eleven You Know Who tracks plus a few new ones — one of which I’m advocating for a title of “D-R-A-G (Cigarettes & Wine)” so I called it that on

Sound was fantastic, crowd was into it, and I overheard at least three independent conversations along the lines of “Do you know this band? / “No, but they’re awesome!” Maybe it’s cheating to call the longest set the best one, but it is what it is.

Rank: #1

Third Show: Friday, 3/15/24 — Draught House, 3pm

“This life ain’t easy. It’s a D-R-A-G…” 7

A classic South by Southwest setup of a tent in a parking lot becoming an impromptu venue and a day show after a late night8 (I accidentally on purpose stayed for almost the whole Deslondes set at The White Horse) requiring some hair of the dog to get through. Good thing it was at a beer bar!

I went solo for the first two shows, but finally had a six person entourage today including my college roommate / unofficial editor Nate and his family9 (in town from Houston for the Professional Pickleball Association event) and local friends Liz & Hunter. (Hunter is from Georgia and introduced me to The Pink Stones, not to be confused with the Hunter from Georgia who is in The Pink Stones.) Also in tow was a paperback copy of L Extreme as a gift for Pink Stones Hunter10 after he expressed interest when it came up in our post show chat on how they hooked up with Riley Downing (via the record label) and how I discovered Riley Downing (an old bio compared his style to Benji Hughes).

High praise being compared to the legendary Local Boy. Respect the greats!

Highlights here were a rollicking “Who’s Laughing Now?” that got all of us dancing and a nifty take on George Jones’s “Her Name Is…” (also played at The White Horse) with some funky grooves on the ellipses.

This was my least favorite of the gigs, but by no means bad. More circumstances of odd venue, so-so sound system, early(ish) timeslot after a late night, distractedly chatting with friends, etc.

Rank: #8

Fourth Show: Friday, 3/15/24 — Still Austin, 7pm

“I’ve been seeing you around. I guess this is your side of town…”

After popping over to the ABGB with Hunter & Liz for local legend Bob Schneider and some grub, I was back to being solo for my 2nd Pink Stones show of the day / 3rd in 21 hours at local distillery Still Austin. Another outdoor stage (but with a better sound system) hosted a crisp & brisk 35 minute set.

The band mixed things up by opening with “Time’s Standing Still” (yes!) before going into a new song played at every show. Here it finally dawned on me it was titled “Too Busy” based on how it was yelled out as the next impromptu number. (Later I’d learn all of the setlists are impromptu vs planned, with some brief discussion in the van on the way to each venue.). “Too Busy” is a sweet country love story with a “You Are My Sunshine” style melody and some lyrical treats like “Bar is closing. Time to get going. What’s the motion: Your place or mine? Now it’s morning. We’re drinking coffee…” Feels like a single…

I dashed off a quick “see you in a bit” goodbye to the band that got a laugh, planning to take a nap before keeping my streak alive for the dreaded 1am (!!!) slot at Antone’s.

Rank: #7

Fifth Show: Friday, 3/15/24 — Antone’s, 1am (technically Saturday…)

“And I just can’t leave the barroom, when it’s over…”

I did take a nap, and was pleasantly surprised when I woke up to find my friend Hunter cashed in his annual “late show with JLC at SXSW” spousal approval credit to join me.11 We both made it downtown in time for The Deslondes at 11pm.

Antone’s was comfortably full at 11, a little less so for Emily Nenni’s midnight set. When The Pink Stones started it was dwindling, and a ghost town by the time they finished. Empty room aside it was still my favorite set of the day12, perhaps magnified in my sleep-deprived mind as having earned it by pulling off the trifecta. (They oughta give me the Wurlitzer Prize…)

I may or may not have recorded this show on my phone13. You may or may not hear me lecturing friend Hunter when he almost left early but didn’t. You can definitely hear me joke “This has never been more true” when (Late Night) “Barroom Blues” kicks in— and then Neil makes the same joke after the song ends! (Great minds…) You can also tell it’s been a long day with my sorry excuse for a singalong ruining the latter half of the recording14. Let’s call it proof a good time was had by all.

Highlight: Closing trifecta of “Time’s Standing Still” / “Barroom Blues” / “Baby I’m Still Right Here” sending us home. (And the fact I lived to tell the tale…)

Rank: #5

Sixth Show: Saturday, 3/16/24 — Sagebrush, 9pm 11pm

“Then you say ‘darling, we should get going.’ And I reply, ‘let’s take our time…'”

Arrived at 8:45 for what I thought was a 9pm start (actually made my wife leave dinner early to drop me off and prolong the consecutive show streak), only to find it got swapped to 11pm.

The band apologized even though it wasn’t their fault. Stuff like this happens at South By all the time. Got to hang out with them a bit at the bar before the show, learning of Adam’s other punk band Telemarket and how Gideon was introduced to the group by his brother Elijah.

I also ended up chatting with a guy in the audience I’d seen at most of the other shows. When I heard he worked for New West I might’ve told him a little too strongly they shouldn’t have dropped Benji Hughes or rejected his legendary Bill Bottrell produced solo piano record. Sorry, George! Just defending my muse

Your eyes look so much clearer in the photo on my phone
(but maybe not after you’ve been at Sam’s Town Point all day and the Sagebrush show is 2 hours later than expected…)

Shortly before The Pink Stones started I asked if I could make a request. Instead of any specific song I just said “Throw me a curveball I haven’t heard this week.” They obliged mid-set with “Love Me Hardly” off Introducing…, unknowingly filling my bingo card with 4 of my top 5 favorite songs from that album15 over the 6 show run.

Sound was phenomenal, venue was cool, and the surprise song put it over the top as my second favorite of the week.

Rank: #2

Seventh Show: Sunday, 3/17/24 — Sagebrush, 5pm (St. Patrick’s Day)

“Well I wonder what my daddy did today…”

A rare indoor matinee at a proper venue on a weekend allowed my wife to join me for this one. The fact that Johnny Fritz (of Traveller supergroup fame) was playing immediately after them helped too. (Random bonus fun fact: It was both St. Patrick’s Day & my father’s 74th birthday, or as I’ve called it for decades: Cinco de Mayo!16)

An especially good slowed down rendition of “You Know Who” set the tone early on—though interestingly Hunter announced from the stage they were playing faster to fit more songs in so what do I know? Another amusing bit of stage banter was “I know I said we wouldn’t play it today, but we’re gonna play it,” prior to the Waylon Jennings medley of “Wurlitzer Prize” into “Rainy Day Woman” they played at most shows. Agree it’s too good to skip, especially the rocking latter song and abrupt transition to get there.17

Towards the end of the set another rousing “Who’s Laughing Now?” seemed to catch the sound guy off guard. One of the main crowd facing speakers blew and sounded fuzzed out for the rest of the set and a little bit into Johnny Fritz18. (An aside too good to bury in the footnotes: Johnny played “Happy In Hindsight” from the Traveller record, which made my wife’s day.)

Afterwards when saying goodbye I joked with the band I should get a punch card. Gideon laughed and said “10th show’s free!” Hunter trumped in and offered to put me on the guest list for the grand finale at The White Horse Tuesday night in thanks for me running the table of all 7 SXSW shows.

Rank: #6

Eighth Show: Tuesday, 3/19/24 — The White Horse, Midnight (once again, technically tomorrow)

“I’ve got one more night and I’m willing to fight…” 19

And so we’ve come to the end…

Following a band on tour is weird and wonderful on many levels–even more so when it’s a tour of your own city. You take pride in supporting live music. You respect the grind of breathing life into the same songs night after night (and/or day after day) without appearing to phone it in. You learn their quirks and personalities, find commonalities in stage banter and setlist construction, notice the differences between good and great gigs, good and great venues, sound systems, patrons, bars, etc, etc.

And just when you think you’ve seen and/or heard everything, they throw it out the window and open with a Smokey Robinson cover!

From there the set followed the familiar pattern, mixing it up with a curveball snippet of “Iko Iko” and then again later with a full blown rendition of “After Midnight” after 1am.20

I thought the show was going until 1:45am again, but as the dancers drifted away one by one I got caught a little off guard when the traditional penultimate “Barroom Blues” kicked in.

Immortalized on Instagram!21

Just as Hunter announced there was one song left I rushed to the stage and asked if they could sneak in “Jesus & Peterbilt” to take this thing full circle. Sometimes wishes come true if you put your faith in your baby like you’re supposed to do.22 Gideon came up to me afterwards and thanked me for making the request, saying he hadn’t played that song in 2+ years and vowed to do his part to mix things up more if they came this way next year. I told him they mixed it up just enough, but appeciated the sentiment behind the offer.

You don’t go see a band eight23 times in seven days if they’re just okay. I’ve been to enough shows in my life to sense when there’s magic in the air, and it was off the charts here no matter the size of the crowd or the time of the set. Of course I’d take a different oldie every night to spice things up, but I also wouldn’t trade the memories of the rockin’ week I had for anything.24

Friend Hunter’s morning-after FOMO reply to my recap

As I was saying my final goodbyes & gratitudes, Neil jokingly said “You mean you’re not coming to Dallas tomorrow?”

My lyrically wired brain responded without thinking:

“I hate to break it to you but I don’t think I’m coming back.”

Rank: #4


  1. Almost no repeats. 81 out of 86 songs Jeff Tweedy played across 4 shows were unique. ↩︎
  2. SXSW was cancelled in 2020, I laid low in 2021, Beck gave me COVID in 2022. ↩︎
  3. The Pink Stones were my SXSW runner-up in 2023, making it 11 shows in 369 days and 10 consecutive in Austin. ↩︎
  4. “I don’t care who you are, you will never go to a concert that will make you feel cooler than you felt when you were fourteen and you saw your favorite band at an all-ages show — sober, in the middle of the day.” — Adam Boyle, ↩︎
  5. In my defense, I’d just flown back from a work trip in Denver and barely made it to regular show I had tickets for coming straight from the airport. In the encore BJ Barham changed some lyrics to “I’ll see you all at The White Horse tonight.” I pieced together the secret show clues but was too wiped to make it happen. ↩︎
  6. Yeah, sometimes I’m the dreaded deep cut guy. But only the good ones! ↩︎
  7. Still advocating, still laughing… ↩︎
  8. There’s an old baseball adage about the difficulty of playing a day game after a night game. Today was like playing a triple header after a night game. ↩︎
  9. Nate: “I’ll be in Austin SXSW weekend. Want to get together?” Me: “Yes! Meet me at any or all of these 8 Pink Stones concerts.” Nate considers this to be normal coming from me by now. ↩︎
  10. Probably easier to call him Hunter Pinkston, but that feels both too formal and too informal. ↩︎
  11. See also: Supersuckers playing Continental Club at 1am in 2016. ↩︎
  12. Or favorite set of Friday, not Saturday. ↩︎
  13. This footnote is neither a confession nor a link to the hypothetical recording, but I made you look! ↩︎
  14. Even well rested and stone cold sober my voice would still be a sorry excuse for a singalong. ↩︎
  15. Ranking songs is a fool’s errand, but taking a stab at the Introducing… tracks: 1. Miss Wind Turbine. 2. Barroom Blues, 3. Blueberry Dream, 4. Let’s Sit Down, 5. Love Me Hardly. (I’ll probably change my mind in a month. Friend Hunter’s favorite is “Put Me On”) ↩︎
  16. Years ago my friends Gino & Ben were waiting in a long line to get into a packed Irish Pub on St. Patricks Day. It started pouring so they ducked into a completely empty Mexican cantina instead. When Cinco de Mayo rolled around they went back to the Irish Pub — also empty. When we figured out by coincidence of the calendar St. Pats & Cinco de Mayo always fall on the same day of the week an ongoing traditional holiday swap was born. ↩︎
  17. Also, Texas. ↩︎
  18. On the fritz for Johnny Fritz is a fitting dad joke for a guy with a record called Dad Country. ↩︎
  19. Josephine, Josephine do you know what I mean, when I say our time’s run out?” would also work here. ↩︎
  20. Waaaaay after midnight. ↩︎
  21. Pictured: Me (all 8 shows), Adam Wayton’s dad (7 shows), Josie from Telemarket (5 or 6 shows; I forget — sorry!) ↩︎
  22. Before the show I saw the band loading in. Hunter mentioned he wasn’t sure what they had left to play. I advised by my calculation it was Rich Rudy, Stoned + Alone, half of the first record and Jesus & Peterbilt. He said they’d play Jesus if Adam could remind him of the first line. Adam immediately rattled off “I put my faith in my baby…” before I could. ↩︎
  23. There are 6 Infinity Stones, but I saw 8 Pink Stones shows. (This bad joke means it’s time to close this out. It’s also fishing for Marvel Cinematic Universe search traffic. If it worked, check out the band!) ↩︎
  24. Two more records in, I might issue a no repeats challenge. Get ready for 2027 😉 ↩︎

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