So today was our party, and our party—to use the parlance of the day—fucking owned. I don’t know if I’ve had a better time at any SXSW day party ever, and that includes the ones we’ve thrown in the past. Thanks to everybody who came and enjoyed the bands and comedians with us; sorry to anybody who wasn’t able to get in. Things were a little thin at the beginning of the day, but by early afternoon, it was one-in, one-out for the remainder.
I’m too damn tired to go into tons of detail on all 12 bands, but I shall mention (and thank) them all: Ohbijou kicked us off with spare, sweet strings. Cuff The Duke braved the big outdoor stage with some solid Canadian power-poppings. Chikita Violenta weren’t violent, but they were awesomely energetic.
The Thermals, who were playing their first of three shows of the day, drew the biggest early crowd: No surprise considering how incredible the upcoming Now We Can See is. It’s always nice to see teens totally freak out over a band like this, singing along with every word and really getting it. And The Thermals absolutely prove that all vital rock ‘n’ roll really needs is three chords and some smarts. The drummer scoffed at the floor tom provided—this is just guitar, bass, a minimal kit, and some serious passion. Super excellente.
Young Galaxy brought their sweet pop to the inside stage next, providing a pleasant comedown, then Gentlemen Reg brought the first bit of strangeness to the show. I sadly caught very little of Dappled Cities, but I’ll see them again for sure. Same goes for New Zealand’s Cut Off Your Hands, who absolutely slew. I’m gonna drop a song of theirs right here, so you can enjoy it, too.
And holy crap, how about Parenthetical Girls? They’re so weird and wonderful, and to be honest, I don’t think their records do them justice (then again, I’m going to listen to Entanglements some more and see if things make more sense). Singer Zac Pennington worked the inside-stage crowd, twisting his skinny self around the audience and turning a metal pole into an instrument. Hey how about a song?
Somewhere in here, I can’t quite remember where, comedian Alex Koll did a pretty hilarious short set, which culminated in him pulling off a wig to reveal his real hair—which looks just like the wig. Awesome.
And the band I was maybe looking forward to most: Future Of The Left. Compared to the rest of the bands on the bill (with the exception of headliner Trail Of Dead), FYOL is pretty damn angry and manly. And man, they SLAYED. So good, so heavy. “Small Bones, Small Body” is an incredible song.
And I’m ashamed to say I only caught fleeting songs by both Ra Ra Riot and And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, who both rocked a packed house (packed tent, actually). It was all smiles from people on the way out, though, so I’ll assume things went well.
And then: comedian Todd Barry. He wasn’t too psyched to be playing opposite Trail Of Dead, but it only took him a couple of minutes to find a rhythm with the indoor crowd.
So shit. Good time. I wish I could be a little more lucid, but this old body hasn’t had much sleep. Thanks to all the bands, Brendan, Asif, Daniel, Stunt Company folk, Todd, and all of the Radio Room people. Play enjoyed by all. Now, some nap time and then off to the night time rockings.
And we’re back, after some e-mail answering and rest—but no actual sleep. My evening was spent proving just how insanely eclectic SXSW is, and how genre-hopping is as simple as walking a couple of doors. I started off at the Touch & Go Showcase, more to bid farewell to the label (as we know it, anyway) than for any particular band. I only saw Mi Ami, whose record rubs me every wrong way. Live, things were much improved, though I imagine anyone unprepared would think they’d walked into some tunelss caterwauling. And maybe they did.
Then it was off to eat a Best Wurst (I favor the jalapeno) on 6th Street, the main drag that’s getting more insane every year—it’s damn near impossible to move on weeknights, with lines stretching out of every door, people milling around, and the various bands that simply set up in the street and start playing. (These are not official SXSW showcases, but they’re just as well attended.)
I popped my head into Emo’s for the start of the Vice showcase, where I (almost literally) bumped into my fellow Chicagoan Andrew Bird, who looked a little confused. He told me he was looking for his tour manager, and that taping an Austin City Limits episode two nights prior was slightly nerve-wracking. I then caught a couple of songs by Japanese Motors, both of which were pretty dull.
I had been trying to connect with one of the journalists who made my trip to Iceland a few years ago so pleasant, and eventually I did. Jondi, who’s at SXSW in his capacity as manager of a band called Springjuhollen, suggested we check out some metal at Red 7, and we ended up catching a couple of songs by Rwake, a sludgy band from Little Rock. It was pretty evil, I guess, but maybe not evil enough for my taste. Jondi was looking for something a little more uptempo, so it made no sense that went to try and see Swedish band Loney Dear. But alas, the line was too long.
Instead, it was over to see Minneapolis indie-rapper P.O.S., who was/is a hell of a showman. (Funny aside: The bar he was playing in had the local news on, and who do I see on there, waiting in line for Metallica? Our own Marc Hawthorne.) P.O.S. was great, though, and the diehards in front made it even better. He big-upped the festival, and mentioned that he made a guest appearance at Dillinger Four’s show earlier in the day. To paraphrase: “That’s what’s cool about South By Southwest, not the dudes in supertight pink jeans.”
We met up with a couple members of Springjuhollen, and I asked them to decide whether we should go loud (the Kerrang showcase) or quiet (the Central Presbyterian Church). We decided loud, then quiet, but the Kerrang show was overcrowded, so we had to settle for one Cancer Bats song viewed from the sidewalk before heading to quiet-town. My intention there was to see Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, who’s got a terrific solo album coming out in May. But after an extremely pleasant 45 minutes watching Laura Marling—think Cat Power meets classic Brit folk—I had to call it a day. I saw 18 bands today, I think, and two comedians. That’s enough, right?
Tomorrow: Rachael Ray party? The “secret” Kanye West show that the local news has been plugging? Perez Hilton’s soiree? An insanely late private show with Trail Of Dead? The massive Mess With Texas party? I will go where the wind takes me.