We spent our entire weekend wrapped up in the inaugural whirlwind that was the Dig South Interactive Festival. Not familiar with the festival? Billed as the SXSW of the Southeast, Dig South was awash in technology, design, music, and a 3D printer. (Did you hear there was a 3D printer? There was a 3D printer.)
We kicked off Dig on Friday night with the Studio Strut, a self-guided tour of some of the top creative companies in Charleston. We started at 161 King Street to visit the team at Distil Union. The renovated second-floor apartment is home to the creators of the Snooze and the Wally. As we looked around, an ex-resident of the space stopped by to see the changes — she was impressed that the Distil Union team had transformed what used to be college digs into a vibrant studio. Next on our list was the Hook offices on upper King. The Hookers, as they sometimes refer to themselves, always throw a dash of panache into their work, so we were sure they'd host a proper shindig. After climbing to the fourth floor, we were offered a choice of Cathead Vodka lemonade, a Charleston Mix Bloody Mary, or beer from a big cooler. Cocktail in hand, we spoke to art director Andrew Smock, who told us some of the staff were still in client meetings. We were impressed that they remained in work mode after 5 p.m. on a Friday.
After a few greetings, we headed across the street to visit the new kid on the block, PeopleMatter. The tech company hosted their grand opening the night before, so we'll have to forgive them for the hungover atmosphere of the place. Bypassing the offerings from Jason's Deli, we headed to the rooftop deck we'd heard so much about only to be denied access. Dejected, we carried on to the north to visit the ladies at Stitch. Co-owner/designer Courtney Rowson cheerfully greeted us and encouraged us to help ourselves to the massive bowl of pork rinds and pimento cheese they laid out for guests. Of course we grabbed a handful and headed out back to find the Coastal Craft and Cru truck parked in the lot. This new venture pairs everything we love about food trucks (mobility and tasty bites) with a novel focus on draft beer and wine. Something to consider for your next party.
After one too many Southern snacks, we plotted our night of music and dancing. Dig South offered attendees three venues for music with something in mind for every taste. We decided to check out the scene at the Redux Contemporary Art Center, where local band Heyrocco enchanted the audience with their spirited performance and Elim Bolt had Charleston followers dancing. The last band, Brave Baby, also from the area, almost brought down the house. We loved seeing so many local bands rocking out under one roof.
Regretting our last PBR the night before, we dragged ourselves to hear the Dig South conference keynote speaker at 8 a.m. on Saturday. We probably reeked of sweaty rock 'n' roll funk and still had pillow marks on our face, but Robert Tercek's presentation on "Inventing the Future" invigorated us for the day of sessions ahead. After a day of enlightenment, it was time to network and loosen our ties. The Grocery hosted a happy hour for media and presenters after the day's talks concluded. We got a chance to meet some of the great minds behind leading tech and design firms over a glass of wine and a few snacks. After the intimate gathering, it was time for more music.
The Music Hall was our destination for Saturday evening to see Lee Fields and the Expressions as well as local favorites Entropy Ensemble. The house wasn't packed when we arrived, but the crowd was enthusiastic. Entropy Ensemble was joined by Steven Fiore for their renditions of Radiohead hits, and the crowd loved every minute. Fiore is a perfect stand-in for Thom Yorke, but without all the awkward dancing. Speaking of, if you were looking to get down that evening, we hope you were at Fields' performance. It's rare to see the audience at the Music Hall hop out of their seats to shake it down with as much vigor as they did that night.
The next morning we were back at the conference, our ears still ringing from the night before. We were a little tired from the non-stop pace of Dig South, but when an opportunity to participate in an event of this caliber comes along, you have to go for it. We were impressed by the mass of offerings for the first-year conference and can't wait to see what they bring us next year. Free 3D printers for all?