Saturday, March 21, 2009

SXSW Day Three Re-Cap

Much as I'd like to try and demonstrate how absolutely cool I was by starting my day off by walking in and out of about three different venues and walking out with three new books, a hat, and yet another reusable tote bag, I won't. I could show how hip I was by talking with Hector from AAM and getting free drinks for the whole crew while we watched Parenthetical Girls, HEALTH, and Titus Andronicus first thing in the morning. How indie, right?

But, sadly... I am not hip, nor am I cool. Despite the fact that Titus Andronicus pretty much made me like them, because while their album kind of bored me, live they sound an awful lot like Against Me! and other bands of that ilk. Lots of big guitar sound with three guys blasting big chords simultaneously. But, even though I was kind of rocking it out to various ultra-hip rockers, I still ended up leaving to see punk bands.

I went from Habana Calle 6, where the AAM party was kicking, to just a little over to Beerland. I could tell I'd been spending a good amount of time there, because their doorguy just waved me in. I was getting ready to walk inside when I saw a guy I thought I recognized outside. Lo and behold, I did know him - it was Mr. Mitch Clem, of Nothing Nice to Say and record art fame. I talked with him and his friend Ben, and then we all went inside to see Hunx & His Punx, the reason we were there.

Hunx said a lot of things that I'm going to repeat here, for the most verbatim, so please don't inundate the station with e-mails calling me homophobic, 'cause I'm just repeating what the man said. "The gayest show in Austin," for instance. Seeing the man's "dong," etc. Honestly, the show was such a spectacle, it's difficult to remember what the music sounded like. They started out with "You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll," and it just got better from there. Lots of prancing, preening, and at one point early on Hunx said that he wished he had a boner. Given the scant attire of prettty much the entire band, that probably would not have been a good thing. I mean, I still ended up seeing his tackle, but tumescent would have been a bit worse. Fun show.

And then I left Beerland to go over to Red 7, where with the exception of a break with the crew to go have dinner at Thai Passion, I would spend the next 10 hours. Ten hours on my feet, watching pop-punk. I really could not ask for a better way to spend my Friday afternoon. The weather was perfect under the roof out back on the patio, and the bands were all just bursting with energy. I don't know if it was a perfect storm of punk, but from the moment Dillinger Four hit the stage until the Queers played hours later, it was pretty much my dream lineup.

The highlights? Drinking a doublewhiskeycokenoice while D4 played the song of the same name. Seeing the Bouncing Souls for the first time in 11 years, and getting to hear them play not only "I Like Your Mom," but "These Are the Quotes From Our Favorite '80s Movies," too. The new stuff like "Airport Security" didn't really grab me in the same way "Kate Is Great" does, but they're still putting out good tunes. The Souls celebrate twenty years this year, and it's impressive to note that they've really failed to put out anything that's lousy in that time (although the argument could be made that The Gold Record was pretty weak). They ended their set with "Born Free," and I went and had amazing Thai food with the rest of the crew, then walked right on back to the club for the pop-punk perfect storm.

Kepi and Band started out, playing songs to sing along to, and valiantly struggling against the strains of death metal coming from inside. The band featured Kevin Seconds on drums, and his wife Alison singing back-up and playing tamborine, in addition to the usual Kepi and Dino. He played not only his own tunes like "Supermodel" and some Groovie Ghoulies tunes, but he also knocked out a cover of Daniel Johnston's "Devil Town" that had a huge sing-along. I would see this man play every day if I could, really.

Kepi was followed by Poison Arrows, not to be confused with The Poison Arrows. They used to be called the Heart Attacks. They play sleazey garage rock, and have stage banter that's more appropriate to a hip-hop show. Still, they played not only an MC5 cover, but Cock Sparrer's "I Got Your Number," which pretty much got my attention. I was in the bathroom (port-o-john) while they were playing it, which pretty much sucked, though. Entertaining, if not too terribly PC.

The Dollyrots played next, and it's a testament to their spunkiness and drive that they just didn't come off as saccharine after their lead-in. Blasting out stuff like "Jackie Chan" and "Because I'm Awesome," the band actually sounds way more edgy live than they do on disc. They're a band I've been trying to see for something like three or four years now, ever since Eat My Heart Out was released on Panic Button. I'm not going to say it was a wait well worth it, because the vocals were a little scratchy, and not nearly as sweet and cuddly as they sound on the records. It's the cutesy mixed with the punk rock that really makes the band, and getting a little too far in either direction causes them to lose that thing that makes them stand out.

The Cute Lepers and the Pink Spiders played next, and while I'm a big fan of the Cute Lepers on record, I really couldn't get into them live. They had back-up singers doing synchronized dance moves like the Ronnettes or something, the band was dressed to the nines like some sort of power-pop big band, and yet I don't really remember a damn thing about their set other than the fact that I shook and shimmied a lot, and they played "Terminal Boredom." The Pink Spiders I've seen enough times to really not care about any more. Their set sounds pretty much the same every time, and I really only get lit up when they play "Modern Swinger." The news stuff sounds like AC/DC, and while I love AC/DC, I tend to not like bands that sound like AC/DC.

Teenage Bottlerocket came out and lit the place on fire. They blasted through probably fifteen or twenty songs in the time most bands would do half that. "Bloodbath At Burger King," "Radio," "Bottlerocket," "In the Nuthouse," and I canot believe how these guys have just perfected pop-punk. It's fast, loud, there's not a lot of between song banter, and they bounce around like toddlers given their first sip of soda. I can't explain why they're one of my favorite bands, except for those prior reasons.

The Queers headlined, and my feet hurt so fucking bad that I went searching for a place to sit. Red 7 is many things, but a sitting-friendly place is not one of them. I saw the Queers play "No Tit," and hauled keister. Ian and I found one anaother and ended the night sitting on the bleachers at Emo's, watching King Khan & the Shrines play while we just wondered how we could be so lucky. One more day to go... if my feet can handle it. I am so sore, so tired, and so ready to just sit around and do nothing. Still - Teenage Bottlerocket plays again at Emo's Annex in just under an hour, and there's Mess With Texas, too... I might survive. - Nick Spacek

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