Blisters are starting to form on the soles of my feet from all the cross-town walking, and I hope I don't develop any sort of infection from wearing the same pair of socks three days in a row. It doesn't appear to be the case just yet, but we have a full day still and people are already texting me saying where they are drinking free beer (answer: everywhere).
Incidentally, the first music I saw yesterday was at the Hype Machine's Hype Hotel, kitty corner from the Convention Center. There was a massive queue stretching around the corner, but the badge I wore around my neck gave me instant access to a sparse, gutted warehouse-garage space that smelled like Taco Bell. Why Taco Bell? Because inside, they were giving away the new Doritos Loco Tacos and regular taco options. I had massive abdominal pains the day after those Doritos tacos were released (don't eat seven in one day), so I used my better judgment and enjoyed a complimentary vodka while watching Portland band Blouse. They are one of those bands who are on a ethereal rock played by attractive hipsters vibe, with punchy chorus, twinkly keyboards, and propulsive back beats and rhythms. The attractive lead singer looked uncomfortable at times (she probably saw some clown wolfing down a bright orange taco). But what I was needed a nap, so I retreated to the very quiet press suite, and plunked myself down on one of the couches.
The masseuse who was giving complimentary back massages to weary press people watched me wake up, and with perfect timing asked if I wanted to follow the nap with a massage. (We'll call it the happy ending to a nap massage). Afterward, I passed the stage with giant 4 foot tall bags of Doritos that transformed the stage into an oversize vending machine, and hoofed over to The Grackle on the east side to catch Ume, the second band I fell in love with when I moved to Houston a decade ago. They opened with "The Conductor," the song that's has boosted their career to Anthony Bourdain-rate levels (the day before, they performed the No Reservations party and had dinner and drinks with the chain-smoking foodie.) They played some newer songs unfamiliar to me that made me realize something new about their musical progression: While Ume have always played aggressively (Lauren Larson is a petite blonde cutie with nimble, wicked fast fingers running all over the guitar), they have become a really complex heavy rock band with profoundly urgent transitions. Those Blonde Redhead and Sonic Youth comparisons of the past are entirely in a whole new arena that's destined to bring the band greater acclaim.
I stopped by Cheer Up Charlies for the final day of CMRTYZ's SiiickXSW festival, but when I arrived, the line was long and they weren't letting anyone in. Apparently, Death + Taxes put on a day show that was concluding with beloved camp counselor creep Dan Deacon, leading his youth group-esque audience into silly spirit finger-type gestures. It made me think of the time he played Bumbershoot 2008, how he had audience members play duck-duck-goose and trust falls and other things that seemed wholesome and interactive, yet were conducted by a balding guy with patchy facial hair and coke bottle glasses and some stained cartoon graphic T-shirt. The type of guy you wouldn't want your daughter talking to.
Luckily, the friendly backstage worker at Cheer Up Charlie's recognized me from a couple days ago and gave me access through the alley. After a late start, I watched G. Green play a very shitty-sounding set (the sound gear from the Dan Deacon show could not be properly leveled out and SiiickXSW had a very tight schedule to follow). However, sound issues would eventually smooth themselves out.
But I had to mosey over to Red 7 for the Sub Pop showcase. Poor Moon, the latest Fleet Foxes offspring, were set to perform on the patio stage, and while I caught up with the awesome staff and my sweet friend Lily over super stiff drinks, I was surprisingly overjoyed by the band's ebullient pop that contained some folky elements, but were stacked with disparate layers that all coalesced brilliantly.
After Poor Moon King Tuff, the power-pop scuzz lover machine who has already released one record for Sub Pop with his band Happy Birthday, played. King Tuff has been a long-time favorite of mine (I always recommended his fantastic Was Dead LP to customers at Sonic Boom Records when I worked there). New tracks from his forthcoming self-titled full-length, including "Bad Thing," were interspersed with classic Was Dead tracks, and his new backing band really elevated those stoner pop classics with diligent finesse. He broke a string on his trusty old green guitar, and said "Shit, what am I going to do?" before quickly replacing it while his bass player Mighty Jake told jokes. Later they closed the set with "Animal," a perfect ending for a near-perfect rock set.
I spotted Narduwar while making my way inside for THEESatisfaction, who just killllllllllllled it. I admit I haven't given them much of a listen over the years (I think there was a song in the 5-Dollar Cover MTV webisode that turned me off), but I'm definitely gonna cop that new record, which drops on March 27. They're the freshest, most sensuous, and far-out artists to come around since Erykah Badu. Narduwar liked them, too.
Caught bits and pieces of Spoek Mathambo and Father John Misty, but was a bit drunk from all the booze that Sub Pop staffers enabled me, and I had to rush back to Cheer Up Charlies for White Fence and Mannequin Men. White Fence met my expectations for a live show, but I still prefer the records. Mannequin Men, who I recently rediscovered after they released their debut a few years back, closed the night with a handful of songs that had me pogoing, including "Hobby Girl" and a TV Personalities cover that I think was "14th Floor." As the band debated if they should play one or two more songs, the plug was pulled and no final song would be played, concluding the day on an anti-climatic note.
Now excuse me, I need to get out into the sun (sorry it's snowing in Seattle, y'all).