SXSW Day I can’t remember

SXSW defeated me. For the past two days I’ve hardly been able to get out of bed (by which I mean floor) my bones have ached so completely. My brain hurts, my body hates me, and I’m sad because it’s over. And churches are stupid. Anyway, my last day in Austin for this year’s sxsw was great. And, once again, I want to thank Jeremy for giving me the opportunity to contribute to his blog. It was an amazing four days.

Saturday started in a garden. I don’t actually think I saw any acts in the garden (I faintly remember some music playing, but for the life of me can’t remember if it was in my head or not), but I do remember that there was $1 Pabst and a lot of flowers. The reason I went to the garden (technically it wasn’t just a garden–it was the French Legation museum) was to see what time Okkervil River was playing, but I got sucked in to the moment and had to sit down next to some bluebonnets. After about an hour I decided it was time to leave to catch Two Gallants at Waterloo park but on my way out I ran into the guys from Noah and the Whale (yep, them again) and had a chance to talk with them for a while. I told them that they’re becoming huge in Houston (that’s up to you guys–make it happen) wherein they promised to play a gig here next time they tour. I wish I could apologize for promoting this band as much as I have the past few days, but I just can’t. I’m in love.

Giddily, I left (Is giddily a word? Whatever) the garden, and walked a short 16 blocks to Waterloo Park to see what was going on at this, how in the hell they pulled it off I have no idea, free to the public Austin City Limits style festival a block or so away from the capital. It was almost perfect–75 degrees, slight breeze, free music and cheap snow-cones. What else is there, right? So I got to see Grand Ole Party (how perfect is that so close to Georgie’s old haunts?), Darker My Love, and then Two Gallants. They were two of the happiest hours of my week; nothing, at this point, was going to faze me. Until that stupid stupid church.

I left to go back to the garden party to see Okkervil River but they were running behind schedule so I got to see She & Him (Zoey Deschanel and M. Ward), and they were suprisingly good. Seeing M. Ward play backup guitar to an actor turned singer was a little weird, but Zoey put on a great show. She sounds very similar to Jenny Lewis (old Jenny Lewis, not Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins Jenny Lewis, and that’s a good thing). The crowd was huge, too, which was, huh? So after about an hour Okkervil came onstage and Will Sheff is a fucking maniac. He’s one of the most confident, I don’t give a shit what you think of me performers I’ve ever seen, and never has Okkervil been more on than they were Saturday afternoon. It was loud, it was fast (sometimes it was slow), and it was just what I needed to start the night. $1 Pabst rules.

Which brings me to church. Shit. The Okkervil show ended at around 8:30 and I decided that I would wait for an hour so I could get a good seat to see M. Ward and Jim James at St. David’s. Yeah, it didn’t work out. By the time I got there the church was already at capacity and there was a line 200 people deep with people who had the same idea as me. The sxsw volunteers (who are, for the most part, total dicks) made it clear that, no matter how long we waited, none of us were getting in. But I waited anyway. Futilely I prayed (it was a church so I thought what the hell), but my wishes went unanswered. And then I thought, what’s up god, why can’t you just invent more pews and throw that shit down here so we can all get in? What I don’t understand is how the planners of this year’s festival didn’t assume M. Ward and Jim James would bring more than 250 people (the capacity of the church). And these were all badge holders (or so the volunteers told me), which makes me a little, sort of a lot, angry and confused. The point of having a badge is to be guaranteed admission into every show, and then something like this happens? There was more than a little rage walking away from church Saturday night. And the sign on the door said “All are welcome here.” Bullshit.

So it was on to plan B. Luckily I still had time to get to the Dirty Dog Bar to see the Saddle-Creek showcase. Three of my favorite bands were playing back to back to back so it made the night a little less of a downer. First it was Washington D.C. natives Georgie James, then Saddle-Creek’s only rock and rock and rock and roll band, Neva Dinova (the lead singer moves his hand so fast while playing guitar it looks like a strobe light is shining on his fingers), and finally Two Gallants (I know, twice in one day, they’re fucking good, ok?). If you haven’t seen these guys live, you shoudl try your best to catch them if they ever come back to Houston (and thanks to our ultra-friendly cops who love to taze 14 year olds, they probably won’t), because they put on one of the most fantastic live shows I’ve ever seen. There was a lone crowd surfer during “Las Cruces Jail,” which made me wonder is this fucking Warped Tour or something?

Finally it was time for the last show of the week, Matt and Kim at the Mohawk. I had only listened to them a few times and had never seen any live footage, so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, but it turned out to be the only way I could have ended the festival, really. The show was the most danceable, kicked in the face five timesable show I’ve ever been to, and I loved every second of it. It lasted only 35 or so minutes, but those 35 minutes are ones I’ll never forget. Walking out of the venue, I could hardly move I was so sore (and I think with two less ribs in my body thanks to a dude with big black leather boots and his crazy Karate Kid style dance moves). But it was all worth it. The show ended what was the best four days I’ve had in years, and if I could start it all over tomorrow, I wouldn’t even think twice. Only 362 days to go.

See you next year…


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