The last real day of the festival arrives—time to power through!
3:41 p.m. – The MyOpenBar.com Four Square Punk Party is in a shadeless dirt lot at Cesar Chavez and I-35, but the low-rent setting completely suits the sloppiest of sloppy punk being played on the tiny platforms that could only generously be described as "stages." The setup is pretty great, though: Four stages occupy the corners of a small square area, and the band on each stage plays one song before rotating to the next band. On stage right now are Cerebral Ballzy (who I'm psyched to see because they made my band-names list last year), Golden Era, She Rides, and Team Robespierre. As soon as Cerebral Ballzy starts playing, beer begins flying. Singer Honor pours it on himself, people pour it on him and his bandmates, and the world's smallest, sloppiest pit breaks out in front of the stage. CB's drummer has what look like fresh stitches above his left eye, which makes total sense.
3:48 p.m. – Jim, the drummer for Team Robespierre, plays with a jagged cymbal that's missing about a third of its body. Once the band begins, it's easy to see how that happened: The quartet rolls around in the dirt, pours beer all over each other, and generally creates a delightful chaos. A woman wearing a microphone headset and carrying a clipboard keeps the bands on schedule, though it's a little funny to see the mix of her professionalism with the abject absence of it everywhere else.
3:50 p.m. – "Just a quick word," Honor says before CB's second song. "The fucking object on this show is to get a drunk as possible, and if you're not down with that, you should probably leave."
4:06 p.m. – Continuing the theme: "Yo, we got shirts and CDs over there for 10 bucks," says She Rides singer Joe, "or we'll trade them for cocaine."
4:09 p.m. – Someone tackles Team Robespierre Mike House (or Mikehouse) in the middle of a song. He keeps playing.
5:05 p.m. – We make our way to Waterloo Park for the third annual Mess With Texas fest, a free all-day event where SXSW's artists get yet another chance to play short sets. Vivian Girls finish up their set with a stage full of dancing people. Sadly, we miss most of the set waiting in line to get our booze wristbands.
5:06 p.m. - File under Keep Austin Self-Consciously Weird: a guy who had been walking with his cat on a leash now has the cat resting on his shoulders.
5:21 p.m. – More Thermals! Can't get enough of them. They open with "Returning To The Fold."
5:50 p.m. – As The Thermals finish up with "No Culture Icons," frontman Hutch Harris sounds deliriously happy when he announces this is the band's final show of SXSW. Maybe they're too tired to relax at this point.
6:10 p.m. – Lucero opens with "That Much Further West," the title track from their 2003 album. You don't notice it much when he's singing, but vocalist-guitarist Ben Nichols sounds like Beetlejuice when he talks.
6:17 p.m. – "Kiss The Bottle" is one of my favorite Jawbreaker songs, but who knew it was secretly a great country song? Lucero makes some significant changes in their cover, and it works really well.
6:29 p.m. – In between a song, Lucero's other guitarist steps on a wah pedal. "Man, that's gonna make me throw the fuck up," Nichols says.
6:57 p.m. – Why does it take Monotonix so long to set up? Seriously, it will all be torn apart during the first song. Drummer Peretz line-checks his tom, and that shit is out of tune. (Shocker.) And really, they need monitors? By the time they finally set up, only 19 minutes remain in their set time. The usual chaos follows.
7:20 p.m. – Frontman Ami Shalev is standing atop a kick drum being held up by the crowd. It's a tenuous balancing act, but really, what better time to pull down your shorts and shove the mic into your bare ass crack?
10:50 p.m. – After a dinner break back at the hotel, we head to the Perez Hilton party, being held in the same decommissioned grocery store as the Playboy one. The setup remains basically the same, with a few notable additions: a children's playground set and a wall with a few computers. Above them is a long mirror, which people have written messages on with lipstick. On stage, five tall rectangular screens spell out P-E-R-E-Z.
Last year's Perez party was a much smaller affair, held in a venue less than a quarter of the size of this one, with an outdoor patio away that made it easy to hang out without dwelling on sheer vacuousness of the whole affair. There's no dressing up what Perez Hilton does. His rise to fame based on celebrity gossip and crude scrawling on photographs is the kind of phenomenon that makes media critics scream about the impending apocalypse. You can argue that it's not meant to be taken seriously, that no one would confuse perezhilton.com for The New York Times, but seeing those five giant screens on stage spell out P-E-R-E-Z, I feel like I'm watching a scathing satire of media culture come to life. Then again, I'm also sober, and maybe that's the real problem here. Some Dos Equis ought to fix that.
11:03 p.m. – Hilton introduces Solange by yammering a bunch of tired clichés—"And what is a diva, but someone who's fierce?"—before the singer's retro-minded performance begins. She takes her cues from old Motown with two backup singers flanking her and a quartet of musicians in matching suits behind her. She really looks and sounds like Beyonce… which makes sense, because they're sisters. Solange has more of an edge than her mostly squeaky-clean sister, though; it's hard to imagine Beyonce ever singing the praises of getting high, as Solange does in "ChampagneChronicKnightCap." I've never seen Beyonce live, but I don't imagine she cusses nearly as much as her baby sister, either.
11:15 p.m. – The PA sound goes out, but the monitors remain functional, so Solange doesn't notice the problem at first. She stops "T.O.N.Y.," then sings an impromptu song: "Mr. Soundman, you better get your shit together." The sound returns after a few minutes, but goes out briefly again later on. Solange seems pretty unfazed by the technical glitches and powers through the rest of her set.
12:08 a.m. – We make the long trek to Opal Divine's Freehouse—a bar several blocks west of most of the SXSW action—to check out Japan's Futomomo Satisfaction: "Futomomo Satisfaction is a Japanese bikini Trombone girls band," proclaims its website. "This revolutional icon in Japanese indies, will inevitably fascinate you!" And the dudes here are indeed fascinated—the crowd at Opal Divine's is more Austinites out on a Saturday than SXSWers, and the middle-aged men in the audience couldn't be more transfixed. With good reason—Futomomo Satisfaction is adorable, and leader Suzuyakko couldn't be cuter as she speaks her broken English between songs. (Men with Asian fetishes have found their new favorite band.) Three women lead with the trombones with a quintet behind them—drums, sax, guitar, bass, and keyboards. The five female members all wear bikinis, and the dudes wear Hawaiian shirts with leis.
12:23 a.m. – A dude standing next to me notices my notes and says, "I don't think there's any real way to describe this." About half of the band's set is cover songs, with tromboner Jackie ("a punkish girl—she is always smoking marlboro," says their MySpace page)—taking lead vocals on the Ramones' "Do You Remember Rock 'N' Roll Radio?" The band closes out its set with "Satisfaction," naturally, with the crowd singing along and eating it up.
12:35 a.m. – The crowd loves it so much, in fact, that it won't let the girls leave. A loud call for "One! More! Song!" spreads across the audience, and the band returns for an encore—even though another band is scheduled to follow them—after a couple of minutes. Suzuyakko—"She has taken off at least 30 girls or more' clothes and put on the bikini," according to MySpace—tries to explain that Futomomo Satisfaction doesn't have any other songs in its set. So they play "Goro Goro Nyang" again, to the delight of the audience. I feel bad for Austin's Los Bad Apples, who's supposed to take the stage at 1.
We don't stay to find out how well they do. The week's fatigue has set in, and really, what's gonna top that?