Monday, March 23, 2009

SXSW Day Four Re-Cap and Trip Home

The last day of SXSW was pretty damn weird. Everyone in out crew was pretty much wiped out, and Ian and I went over to spend the day sitting in Waterloo Park for Mess With Texas. Well, the clouds cleared away, the sun came out, and suddenly sitting in the middle of an open park under the sky didn't seem like such a good idea. We saw Red Cortez play some pretty generic alt-radio indie rock, looked at the schedule and realized it would be a long wait until anyone we wanted to see would pay, plus I wanted to grab some lunch and see some bands, so we began what would become an epic trek over to Opal Divine's.

On the way over there, we walked past the Texas state capital building, where it appeared there was an anti-war rally. Then, all of a sudden, the guy running the rally stopped yelling about what he was yelling about an introduced Wavy Gravy. Yes, that Wavy Gravy, the fellow who helped run Woodstock, noted ant-war gentleman, hippie clown, etc. He sang a few verses of some song by Emma Goldman, then we hightailed it out of there before someone decided to taze us.

*Please note that the preceding statement was intended as humor and in no way reflects on the fine men and women of the Texas Rangers.*

After walking quite a few blocks, we ended up at Opal Divine's right as our hunger was starting to get the better of us. We also got there right as Kepi and band was getting started. So, we sat there, eating some amazing burgers, and we got to watch Kepi, and then Kevin Seconds, play some folk punk. Kevin backed Kepi on drums, and then vice versa, while Kevin's wife Alison played tambourine and sang back-up. Two of my favorite punk front men strumming acoustic guitars while I relaxed and ate lunch? One of the best ways to spend a day I could think of.

Afterward, there was a bunch of wandering around while Ian and I hit up a record show at the convention center, checked out some stuff at the American Apparel flea market, and then walked over to the other side of the highway to check out the Four-Square Punk show that MyOpenBar was putting on. There were free Budweiser tallboys, free coconut water (much-needed rehydrator), and four punk bands playing one song each, right after one another. It was pretty much crazy, with beer cans flying everywhere, people getting knocked to the ground, band climbing trees (and one another), and just blasting the shit out of some music. Cerebral Ballzy were crazy as hell, Team Robespierre may be my new favorite live band, and I can't really remember as to whether or not I cared about the other two bands.

However, I did, in fact, care very much about the band that played next: Valient effing Thorr. The band went pretty much crazy with their brand of hard rock metal punk from another planet. The crowd kind of thinned out when they started, but the people there just rocked the hell out. Everyone knew the words, threw up hands and had fun. The band played what has to be my favorite song of theirs, that being the paen to professional wrestling "No Holds Barred," which got sent out to the Von Erichs instead of Hacksaw Jim Duggan, as "this is Von Erich country!" This was probably my third or fourth time seeing the band, and they never disappoint.

It was at this point that Ian and I started wandering around. I ditched my bag at the convention center (hence no more pictures from this point out), and we ended up heading over to the French Legation Museum, where we met up with Dan and Christine, who are promo folks, as well as running into Hector from AAM and Mona from Domino. Sitting there, drinking dollar Lone Stars, surrounded by green and shade and wonderfully old buildings, talking with like-minded music folks, as the sun set probably ranks up there as one of the most perfect moments of SXSW. The Dirty Projectors played and it was like we were at just the right place at just the right time.

After that, really, it was just pretty much boring, seeing shows type stuff. Saw a bit of the Goner showcase at Red 7, checking out Ty Segall, and then said, "to hell with it," and went to Emo's Annex. I suffered through the Stone Gods, the new band from the dude who was in the Darkness. They were awful. It was even more of a parody than the Darkness. Justin Hawkins can't sing, the band sounded like Poison, and their guitar player was dressed like he was supposed to be in Queen. Atrocious, and pretty much abusive behavior towards my ears.

The next two bands were also abusive to my ears, but in a volume way. A day and a half later, and I still have hearing loss in my left ear. Punk rock bands + huge speaker stacks = danger.

Thank you, Street Dogs. "Toby's Got A Drinking Problem" and your cover of "Rise Above" left my throat sore and raw, and your energy and reciprocal admiration to your fans never fail to impress.

Thank you, Riverboat Gamblers. "Rattle Me Bones" destroyed what was left of my throat, and your on-stage antics always leaves me in awe that a frontman can put himself in so many precarious situations and not die. Climbing the speaker stacks, throwing the microphone in the air... the perfect end to the week.

We left early, at noon yesterday, and got back into Lawrence right around 2am today. Traffic between Austin and Dallas / Ft. Worth is the most awful thing I've ever experienced, second only to the last two hours' worth of driving, when I started to hallucinate from exhaustion. But, we made it home, we had a GREAT time, aloe vera fixes the sunburn, sleep fixes the exhaustion, and time will heal my throat (along with some green tea). Tomorrow, I return to work, class, and being a decent student and making sure KJHK runs. Thanks to all the bands, the people I met, Ian, Alison, and Sean for being great tourmates, and to the city of Austin for being amazing. -Nick Spacek

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