SXSW Day One

Greetings, spacecity-ers. I’m here in Austin at the annual music orgy that is sxsw, ready to embark on the monumental task of trying to remember my days. I want to first say thank you to Jeremy for allowing me to contribute to his blog and for giving me the assignment to be the first ever space city rock sxsw correspondent. The week is already getting crazy.

I arrived here yesterday optimistic that 11:00 a.m. was early enough to find a decent parking spot downtown but my optimism quickly turned to dread, as I should have expected. The first few moments of sxsw are always the most exciting; that feeling you have Christmas morning when you know you’re getting Super Nintendo, remember? It’s always so great going into the Austin Convention Center to pick up your badge and then making your way downstairs to pick up your overstuffed goody bag which this year featured a toy soldier asking us all to put down our guitars and pick up a gun, we’re going to Iraq. What the…

In any case, Wednesday morning found roughly 5,000 people (could have been like 15,000–I’m bad with numbers) all waiting to feel important, and I waited amongst them for 30 or so minutes until I finally got my badge. I was now official. I first went to see David Dondero at the Austin Convention Center Day Stage, which was an altogether uneventful 20 minute set other than the fact that he sang “Rothko Chapel” to start the fest. A song about Houston’s own little non-denomintational whatever it is; this year’s sxsw seemed made for me.

The free day shows every year are oftentimes more exciting than the night, and this year seems to be living up to that–most likely, I wanna say, because of the free alcohol and/or free chips. I made my way over to the Red Eyed Fly to see Two Gallants at 2:50 where I was greeted with a free Dewer’s and gingerale that not surprisingly, wasn’t all that good. The show, though, was amazing. I’ve seen Two Gallants about eight or so times, and never in all these years have they sounded as full as they sounded Wednesday. Adam (the singer) and Tyson (the drummer) seemed to be in perfect step the entire 50 minute set. What a perfect way to start my week. After the show I hopped across the street to catch ex-Broken Social Scene-er Jason Collett (and was promptly given a free Lone Star and a big plate of chips and salsa; thanks, Capitalism!). The drink and food were the best part of the show and end it there. Oh and a side note, never take a beer on the street in Austin–the fuzz’ll get you every time. I, ahem, saw it happen to someone. Moving on…

I had like an hour to kill so I ducked into some little bar (can’t remember the name of it, it’s right next door to Spiro’s. Anyone?) and saw maybe the coolest three dudes ever to dawn wicked scary horse masks while playing confusing electronic music on what looked to be a homemade synth noise machine that made arcade sounding beats with merely the flick of a wrist. No joke. It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Rubber Robot, look em up. Went back to the Convetion Center to catch Saul Williams’ sing about the affair between Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker in between his sometimes moving, always brutally honest poetry. This time it was all moving. I wanted to cry. Then it was time for the night shows.

Oh and a note of promotion for the Mongolian BBQ restaurant across the street from the Convention Center–try the fried tofu with garlic sauce; it’ll make you see god.

Wednsday night at sxsw is notrious for waiting around til late to see the acts worth seeing, and this Wednesday was no different. I didn’t get to see my first “official” sxsw show until 10:00, but things’ll pick up. It gave me a chance to shmooze with the local celebs on hand (by celebs, of course, I mean artsts waiting outside venues until it’s their turn to go on). Caught a glimpse of the good life when I saw Dan Deacon (with a beard!) outside Emo’s and Derek Presnall of Tilly and the Wall (sweet, sweet hair cut) and Jamina Pearl Abegg of Be Your Own Pet sort of trying to avoid eye contact with their fans. I understand, though, guys, you’re big time. Anyway, Peter and the Wolf played their brand of jangly jang kids’ music (or I suppose what could be called kids’ music if the lyrics weren’t about tying up girls to the ground with electrical tape) at Central Presbyterian Church on 8th Street–which is, I’ve gotta say, one of the coolest venues I’ve ever seen a band perform. Those church-ies sure know their acoustics. After the set I stepped foot outside and thought, what the fuck is it 40 degrees for, this is Austin. I guess that’s neither here nor there, though, so whatever. My next stop was Emo’s Lounge to see Kimya Dawson. Never in a milion gajillion years did I think Kimya would get this big but thanks to fucking Juno I had to stand behind a post. Other than that, though, she was as great as you would imagine.

Elf Power was next (at Spiro’s)–one of the shows I was looking most forward to this year. I’m too sad to say anything about it other than I left after three songs. Shit. The last show of the night was back at Emo’s Lounge–The Blow. By this time my feet were seriously about to fall off from my 16 miles of walking the streets of Austin, but it was great. The highlight of the set was Khaela Maricich’s super duper cool cover of “Sweet Child of Mine” (woah woah woah). And then Wedneday was over. This week is just getting started, and let me just say; the belly of the beast tastes good.

Til tomorrow…


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