Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

SXSW DAY TWO: Stuff We All Get

Day two: warmer, sunnier, busier, crowded-er. Most of our day was occupied by our day party at Emo's, which began at noon and ended after 6pm with the staff shooing everyone out so incoming bands could set up. Among the highlights:

1pm: Guitar virtuoso Kaki King ditching her usual six-string for a lap guitar, where her skills translated seamlessly. She can shred, but King dials down her usual fretboard pyrotechnics for something twangier and moodier. We are in Texas, after all. "I know I have a fake country accent," she says between songs, "but I'm actually half Texan."

1:35pm: Young Galaxy says their "honored" to be playing at the same time as their "brilliant" friend Patrick Watson (who's on Emo's outside stage) and before the "brilliant" Land Of Talk. Young Galaxy, the frontman says, is some kind of happy medium.

3:45pm: Maritime. We love 'em. Drummer Dan Didier and guitar-vocalist Davey von Bohlen's former bandmate from The Promise Ring, Jason Gnewikow, is in the audience.

5:10pm: Josh interviews Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster in character as clueless rock critic Ronald Thomas Clontle. The humor is positively arid, but very funny regardless.

5:35pm: Aziz Ansari. He's short. But funny.

5:50pm: Michael Showalter of Stella and The State fame closes it down with his long bit about a New York Times reporter's crumby vagina. Uh, I guess you had to be there.

Elsewhere in Austin…

4:10pm: As The Office's Michael Scott told us, swag means "stuff we all get." And I got hooked up at the Alternative Press party for Everybody Hurts, a Chunklet-style book about emo culture by AP editor Leslie Simon and contributor Trevor Kelley. The swag bag's contents:
— 1 Audiostation Express portable speakers/base station for iPod.
— 1 pair of Vic Firth drumsticks.
— 1 Vans hat
— 1 iTrip Auto FM transmitter and charger for iPod
— 1 $25 gift card to Hot Topic (I can finally get that Good Charlotte T-shirt!)
— 1 can Rockstar Energy Drink
— 1 pair Shure earplugs
— 3 Vans half-inch pins
— 1 pack of hipster breast-exam info, including a heart-shaped patch that says "boobies!"
— 1 pack of thick guitar picks
— 1 Fox brand wallet
— 1 pack of Cleartone light-gauge guitar strings
— 1 Bodog music sampler
— 2 Alternative Press T-shirts
— 1 Vans T-shirt
— 1 condom in a matchbook from Bodog Music, labeled PLAY HARD.

…and the coup de grace, Guitar Hero II game and guitar controller for PS2. Walking down the street afterward, I had half a dozen people ask me where I got it.

8:33pm: My first encounter with the Bible beaters trying to save souls on Sixth Street. They're here every year, and they mostly draw catcalls and people who think it's funny to fuck with the Jesus lovers. Later, I pass by them again, and a group of people is singing near them to try to drown out the guy preaching through the megaphone.

8:50pm: The lines (one for badges, one for general admission, and one for wristbands) to get in to see Bob Mould, Rocky Votolato, Jesse Sykes, Aqueduct, and Menomena are massive. There's no point in even bothering.

9pm: That's also the case at Mohawk, where the Secretly Canadian showcase is going down. I was hoping to check out I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, but it doesn't appear to be in the cards.

9:20pm: Punky bluegrass outfit O'Death plays in the Parish restaurant while the Hotel Café Tour showcase goes on upstairs. Despite the healthy crowd around the stage, most people in the room are just there to eat–which is tough with the band blaring its amped up Americana.

9:40pm: Smoky singer-songwriter Jim Bianco plays in Parish upstairs. One of the people I'm with says he looks like a contractor from a construction site who just dropped his tool belt and picked up a guitar before going onstage. He closes his set with "Goodness Gracious," a song about hittin' it, for which he requests only red stage lights. Afterward, Bianco says, "We all have CDs in the back. Make love to them." We're not sure if he means listen to them so intently, or actually have sex while listening to them. Neither is gonna happen on my end.

9:57pm: The cherubic Brett Dennen takes the stage. He has a vaguely feminine voice, looks sorta like Janis Joplin, and has a head of hair that looks like a wig from the wardrobe room of Saturday Night Live. I find his music–poppy roots rock–a little more engaging than Bianco's, but again it doesn't do much for me. I think I'm biased against dudes with acoustic guitars.

10:30pm: I head to Spiro's after hearing from a reliable source that '90s punk heroes Hot Water Music are playing a secret reunion gig. There are no signs of anything like that inside. Out back, Thee More Shallows finish their set. I hang out with some guys from The Static Age, who'd heard the same thing. After more than an hour, we find out HWM canceled. D'oh. But supposedly they're playing the No Idea showcase on Friday.

11:45pm: Speaking of reunion rumors, word has it that Rage Against The Machine will play after Against Me! at the Sire showcase. Chances of getting into that = nil. I'm not a RATM fan, but the spectacle would have been fun.

12:08am: Out of options, I head out to some shitty strip mall a 15-minute cab ride away to do karaoke with the guys from Found magazine. My choice: "Promised Land" by Elvis. There are Jell-o shots in giant syringes. It's like being in suburban Chicago, but fun nevertheless.