Although SrPago was the clear judges favorite to win the Southland startup competition, the crowd clearly favored Artiphon, a magical, multi-purpose digital instrument that won the Pando Staff Favorite prize.

So why the disconnect between the investor judges and Pando staff and attendees? During their final deliberations, several of the judges argued that Artiphon wouldn’t be popular with professional musicians, and with a close to $800 price tag,  it makes a hell of an expensive toy.

Turns out that, on the question of pro musicians at least, the judges were flat wrong.

A few hours after the contest ended, during the sound check for their Southland festival closing set, a member of Nashville’s Moon Taxi — a band that made its debut on the ‘Late Show With David Letterman’ in November last year — saw founder Mike Butera carrying the Artiphon and asked to give it a try. As Butera describes it, the guitarist took to it instantly and asked if he could use it live on stage.

Just hours later, in front of over a thousand fans at the Southland Venue, Moon Taxi gave the Artiphon its grand, on-stage, worldwide, professional debut. The crowd went wild. Pando’s staff favorite was a crowd and band favorite too.

“Totally amazing. Been waiting a long time for that,” Butera told me.

For Southland, a conference dedicated to technology, politics, and live music, all three pillars intersected perfectly with the thundering chords of a Moon Taxi set.

After the concert, Moon Taxi’s guitarist and vocalist Trevor Terndrup was full of praise for the Artiphon.

“That’s no toy, that’s an instrument,” he told me.