SXSW Day Three

Thank god for tap shoes. But more on that later. Day three at sxsw was fucking strange. I’ve been trying and trying to think of ways to capture it for you guys, but I’m afraid I’m going to come up a bit short. Words won’t do it. I’ll try anyway. I know each day I come on here and complain about how awful it is to try and find a place to park in Austin (and it is awful), but yesterday something happened. I found a space within earshot of at least a dozen venues and I didn’t have to pay one single cent for it. Let me back up. I didn’t actually go downtown to see any day shows Friday–I spent my afternoon finding acts to see around town, which made the day show experience so much better, not having to deal with the crazy lines and crazier people (I’m talking to you, frat dude passed out in the street at 1:00 in the afternoon trying to score a free burrito). Anyway, I went over to Guadalupe (or Gwaudaloop if you want to sound Austin) to see a show which was originally supposed to be Two Gallants at Urban Outfitters (huh?) but ended up being Tall Firs (who?) at Cream Vintage. The point of this story is not the band, because I’ve already forgotten what they sound like–it’s all about that parking space. It was literally fifteen or so feet from the venue (and part time vintage clothes store I assume–there were a lot of clothes and hangers and the what not), and get this; there were like two hours still left in the meter so I didn’t have to make the long reach into my pocket to search for a dime. Score. And there was free beer, tons of it. Oh, and the port-a-potties smelled like popsicles. It was a very good way to start the weekend, and a good break from the chaos.

I went to see Noah and the Whale again at 5:00; they were playing at a small coffee shop on South Congress called Jo’s. The show was, as you probably could have guessed, fantastic. I know this is the second time I’ve talked glowingly about Noah and the Whale, and there is a purpose for that. Go listen to them and you’ll see why. I haven’t been this excited about a band in years, and this afternoon show didn’t dissapoint. They covered Daniel Johnston’s “Devil Town” in front of what looked to be at least six or seven people deep. Why people are ignoring this band at this year’s sxsw is confounding me. There will be regrets.

My day show schedule ended there, and now it was time for me to wait in line for Vampire Weekend. Here we go. I got there (Antone’s) at around 6:45 (the first band didn’t go on until 8:00; Vampire Weekend til 11:00) and there was already a line. There were people waiting there since three in the fucking afternoon. And it was 97 degrees yesterday. For Vampire Weekend. Yep. So finally I got in and found a spot in the front row middle. And then I waited. And waited. And then oh yeah, waited. The first band, Bear in Heaven, began promptly at 8:00 and ended promptly at 8:40. It’s a shame a band that interesting has to open for a band where it seems like every member of the audience is just waiting for them to leave. It was sad, because Bear in Heaven is really good. It seemed, though, that the entire day and night was just about waiting for Vampire Weekend so I’ll move on. Basia Balat was next, and again–so good. Lead singer Basia Balat (I’m pretty sure that’s here name–she’s adorable) sounds eerily similar to Tracy Chapman (though, I must admit, I don’t know how that reference will be received, but whatever–she was good). Basia Balat covered Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You in the End,” and it made the wait for Vampire Weekend a little more tolerable. At 10:00, Foreign Born took to the stage and they were foreign boring so I won’t say much about their guitar guitar vocal vocal blah blah performance. The lead singer did have wicked nice teeth, though, so that’s something.

And then there was Vampire Weekend. The wait was over. They got on stage and it was like the fucking Beatles, I swear to god. I don’t know how to describe the scene, but in all the years I’ve been going to shows and festivals like this one I’ve never seen anything like it. Ever. And it was mostly 13 or 14 year old girls screaming at the top of their lungs, knowing things about the guys in the band that probably shouldn’t be known. It was surreal. I knew that these guys were big, I just didn’t know they were this big. I don’t want to sound like one of those cynical music writers that seems to hate whatever’s big at the moment, but for real, come on. Really? The show was good, but not great. Certainly not worthy of the hype, and absolutely positively not worthy of the six hour wait. I could go on for pages and pages about this show and about how confused I am about this phenomenon, but I’ll save that for another time. I have a few theories about it, but I’m still trying to work out the kinks. It seems, though, that America has its Arctic Monkeys. Sigh.

Which brings me to the tap shoes. I went to see Tilly and the Wall at 1:00, ending my night. I’ve seen them probably ten times over the past three years, and I think it’s impossible for them to give a performance that’s not memorable. They’re energy is infectious, and Jamie (the tap dancer) makes the audience go crazy with her akimbo arms and pony-tailed smile. Tilly and the Wall saved the night for me after the Vampire Weekend out of control extravaganza.

And then I didn’t get to sleep until 5 in the morning because I didn’t really have a place to stay until a friend of mine saved me by offering me his floor. And it smelled like garlic.

I’m off…See you Sunday.


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