please allow me to provide your townie, non-musician, no-wristband (if for the first time in several years), sick with allergies perspective.
lots of special things can happen at showcases. seeing your favorite band play in a church (sans cuss words, apparently), all kinds of things that would never normally happen, even seeing the same band you've seen a million times in the same old emo's but with an electric new level of excitement surrounding you. feeling kind of like you're at some kind of indie-rock theme park, at least if that's your idea of fun. but (and yes, we all get the irony of the sxsw administration trying to sabotage their existence) the real appeal of the festival is most apparent in the unofficial shows. the huge downtown affairs are spotty and overwhelming, and are set in motion by a few smart, cool people, a huge throng of hanger-on douchebags, and a handful of corporate sponsors. they can have their lovely moments. but the real gems are elsewhere, usually east of the highway, and while somebody may have donated a keg or two they are run by sheer enthusiasm.
for example, i saw the shivers play in a random way-way-south house, with some random schmo passed out on the couch. i saw some friends' band play punk rock for little kids and people eating pizza in a parking lot. i saw a not-familiar-enough band at a familiar bar more crowded than i've seen it almost ever, in unfamiliar daylight and filled with slightly sweaty hipsters. and of course i happily saw a ton of my friends' bands.
but perhaps most importantly, there was the thing that basically saved my south by southwest: gayxgaygay (or gay bi gay gay as they took to calling it this year), held on the sunday after basically everything else is over, featuring a bunch of bands in two adjacent deep-eastside backyards. well, a bunch of bands and a couple of things that could only be considered performance art. five dollars for all the beer you can drink, free veggie burgers, lots of friendly faces (heaven fucking forbid), and high-quality, unpretentious music. oh, and fun. i almost forgot about that.
and the joy division cover band (which has no more specific name than that):
[ed note: that's a joy division cover band starring gretchen philips and thor harris, btw -- and a bassist i can't place...anyone know who that is?]
Karen Broyles was a contributor to the 'zine Caught In Flux.
Baker's Dozen of SXSW
1. Go see Matt and Kim. Then randomly start singing Matt and Kim's "Yea yeah" song as a response to serious questions.
2. Watch long-haired guy standing next to you at super-crowded, gross, and hot Emo's Main Room get into argument with a tall photographer for being tall. And having a fancy camera. Watch shorter photographer defend tall photographer who is only doing his job. Watch everyone around you tense up as guy continues to berate tall photographer. Watch tall photographer leave. Watch bystander girl say to the long-haired guy, "Now he's gone, so go and take his spot since you wanted it so badly. Aren't you happy now?" Watch long-haired guy refuse. Watch everyone in the immediate area avoiding eye contact and being uncomfortable. Long-haired guy just leaves before the band even comes on. Then blink and wonder if that actually happened.
3. Eat breakfast tacos (almost) every single day. Have no regrets.
4. Try to catch a cab back to the hotel. Watch cab driver refuse the fare because of traffic and drive off. Watch pedicab dude scoop you up instead. Watch him pedal up to the cab driver, taunt him, and then take off at blinding speed. Hang on for dear life.
5. Start mental list of venues with places to sit (couches at Buffalo Billiards, upper patio at Mohawk, bleachers at Emo's, pews at the Central Presbyterian Church, etc.). Continue mental list of places with non-disgusting bathrooms (Bourbon Rocks, the Convention Center, Club De Ville, etc.).
6. Attempt to see the Faint at Eternal. Fail to see the Faint after the person behind you pukes and it gets on your bag, shoes, and jeans. Go back to hotel room to clean off vomit. Get text message from friend who is wondering where you are. Get another text message, from a different friend, who thinks Eternal is a dump and wonders if it has herpes. Get another text message, from first friend, who is leaving the show and wonders when the Faint turned into a ska band. Feel bad for the Faint.
7. Randomly start singing Margot the Nuclear So and So's "Meow meow meow" song at natural pauses in the conversation.
8. Eat half-priced food at the Roaring Fork's bar during happy hour. Feel some shock at seeing small children, and mothers, and business men watching basketball. Get the check, fail at math. Hope that you left a decent tip.
9. Miss a secret David Byrne show. Cry, but only on the inside.
10. Wonder why Yaris is sponsoring when the most of people attending SXSW live in NYC and can't even own cars. [ed note: because the other half live in LA!]
11. Briefly consider trying to get into Stubb's on Saturday night for about 20 minutes. Instead, eat ice cream at the Hideout, until it is overrun by Japanese musicians in cool hats, who turn out later to be in Asakusa Jinta.
12. Drive to Lockhart, TX to eat BBQ on the Sunday after. Sit next to indie rock band who are still wearing their artist's wristbands at Smitty's. Listen to them complain that the sausage wasn't as good as they remembered. Watch them pile into old beat-up van bearing Ontario plates afterwards. Wish that you'd asked what band they were in.
13. Take a nap. Start wondering when registration starts for next year.
Kathryn Yu says, "Bands? What bands?"
Labels: sxsw 2007 recaps