After four days of braving the hustle of a city under siege by music fans—with their invented economies of meaningless trinkets and oversubscribed RSVP lists, abundant scarcity, and constant crowding—all the while sticking to seeing (mostly) new (to me) bands, I have to admit to (convincing myself of) a sense of relief at not having schemed my way into one of Saturday night's last-minute ultra-mega superstar closing night parties. Instead of seeing three hours of Prince, Justin Timberlake dressing down, the latest iteration of the Smashing Pumpkins, Macklemore, and Fall Out Boy performing at the pleasure of Perez Hilton, keeping an ear to the ground to wherever Kanye West might or might not be parachuting in (allegedly during French Montana's Fader Fort set), I followed my heart to see Vampire Weekend close out SXSW in the big backyard of Stubb's B.B.Q.
Losing the keys to my backyard East Austin rental cottage found me spending the previous night (briefly) replicating Travis Ritter's 2012 adventures in temporary SXSW homelessness—cycling around town to retrace my steps and haunting the wonderful 24 Diner—so I was more than a little excited to hand over my sleep-deprived brain to the comforts of a known commodity with a side of Shiner Bock. I've seen the band maybe a dozen times on stages large and small and have yet to see them put on anything but a great show. Watching them continue this trend, busting out the parade of all the old crowd-pleasing favorites ("Oxford Comma," "Cousins," "California English," "Campus," "Horchata") while trying out three new songs (including "Diane Young," the first single from Modern Vampires of the City, which drops today) on the crowd, it strikes me that just being a really good band of technically exceptional performers who write approximately innovative yet still very pleasant music with short-storylike lyrics that nevertheless often motivate lots of people to dance and sing along is kind of a rare delightful commodity. And bless them for keeping weirdly moody gorgeous "I Think Ur a Contra" right there in the encore along with traditional get-the-eff-out-of-here closer "Walcott."
On the subject of staggering proficiency and sheer stage magnetism: they were well paired with openers HAIM. The Los Angeles sister act unleashed a treasury of great rock and roll faces while (each) singing, drumming, and playing guitar as if performing their own exorcisms. Wild, engaging, and referential without being derivative (as above), they may have been my favorite new band of the week. I knew nothing about them before last night, but can't wait to hear more.
Earlier in the day, I swung by much-beloved now-closed Austin club Emo's, which Brooklyn Vegan had temporarily resurrected for their showcases. Say what you will about the quality of comments on their blog, but the people in attendance, perhaps sated by free nachos and coconut water, were among the best-behaved audiences I encountered: Austra's glorious triple operatic harmonies over double synths and live drums was maybe the first show I saw all week where everyone in my immediate vicinity was too transfixed on the performance to strike up an inane conversation or shove their way through the crowd for a beer, or anything even borderline impolite. (Often during the course of this music marathon I found myself wondering whether there's any other entertainment where blatantly ignoring the show is deemed as apparently socially acceptable.) I stuck around long enough to catch a bit of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and eternally-fun Sub Pop act King Tuff. During all three sets, I'm pretty sure that tiny flakes of the building were crumbling loose.
Back at the Fader's railroad-adjacent Converse-presented (contractual obligation) East Austin fortress, Earl Sweatshirt, the once "lost" Odd Future child-prodigy, deftly dispatched lyrics with contained bravado to an always at-capacity crowd while Flying Lotus acted as DJ. Across the dusty alley, Ray Ban teamed with Boiler Room to turn an old warehouse into a sensory overload chamber—video screens covering half the walls and an in-the-round setup that placed performers on a platform in the middle of the cavernous space. I showed up hoping to see a bit of Mount Kimbie, but found Schlomo instead, due to a scheduling shuffle induced by Chief Keef's just not showing up. I sort of wish that the audiovisuals and vast crowds (in great part, refugees seeking the next fix after Fader's apparently surprise-guest-enhanced French Montana finale) hadn't sent me fleeing to Rio Rita's for relief: the Twitternet suggests that before Bauer came to Harlem Shake everyone one more time, Death Grips played a set that included Zach Hill Skyping-in drums from a remote location.
But, I guess that missing two thousand things to see a handful of others, including a band that you love, and— afterwards while grabbing your bike—getting to serendipitously discover that Delorean is a super-fun Spanish dance rock band that inspires crowdsurfing and patio parties, and not a sleepy Northwest outfit, makes the whole nonsense of occasionally loathsome crowds, huge piles of cash thrown into marketing and brand awareness (this morning, I noticed the absurdity of Spotify re-painting the cafe they took over for the week back from glowing green to a more sedate color and realized that's probably among the tinier expenditures of the festival), and over-exhaustion worth the trip? Plus, I've heard that the backlash was better last year anyway. It's definitely enough to make me think that I'll be tempted to return. After several naps.
(Some more photos, after the jump.)
• Number of days I've been at SXSW: 4
• Number of burgers I've eaten: 7
• Times I *thought* I saw Dave Grohl: 22
• Times I've seen Wayne Coyne: 0 (but there's still this weekend!)
• Number of sunburns: 3
• Times I was mistaken for Nicole from Slutever: 5
• Times I've seen Andrew WK: 1
• Interviews conducted with Andrew WK: 0 (Would have gone something like: "Any comment on your resemblance to Jack Black and friend Dan from MTNS? When was the last time you had a real nosebleed?")
• Times the van has broken down: 2
• Number of Jurassic Park back patches: 1!!!
EDS NOTE: My intern Katie Martin is in Austin! Eating all the tacos I should be eating! Got any hot Texas tips for her? -Emily Nokes
You guys! I’m in Austin for SXSW right now! It’s 80 degrees and I am wearing a Hawaiian button up and I’m sure that you’re all shaking your fists at those cloudy heavens, cursing my name. My boyfriend and his “business partner” are managing a couple showcases down here for Castle Face Records, Dolce Vita shoes, and Sailor Jerry’s. I’ve never been to Texas (save the one time I went to Richland when I was thirteen and it sucked because everything sucks when you’re thirteen) and so far it just seems like Seattle in the summertime—everyone wearing attemptedly nonchalant yet obviously carefully-curated sleeveless band tees and messed up sneakers. The biggest difference is that they call Rainier “Lone Star” down here for some reason.
Seattle’s own Night Beats, the Pharmacy, and CMRTYZ the Band played the Sailor Jerry showcase last night at Gypsy Lounge and rocked the ironic mini baseball caps right off of everyone’s heads! It was refreshing to see some hometown vibes amongst so many strangers and reminded me just how spoiled we are in Seattle.
[Insert hella shitty phone pic of Pharmacy] [The phone pic was too hella shitty to insert. Just imagine it and you're better off. -ED]
In other news: it turns out that you can learn to like rum again when your wristband entitles you to as much of it as you want (no one is more surprised than me)! It also turns out that when you see someone you know in an unfamiliar city, you hug them without hesitation even if you would never hug them back home.
CMRTYZ/Castle Face showcase is today at Gypsy Lounge, featuring a gaggle of Seattle bands (PONY TIME! MTNS! STICKERS! PHARMACY! NIGHT BEATS!). Also: Thee Oh Sees! The Mallard! Blasted Canyons! Starts at 8pm. Free. Come and hang if you're in Austin and reading Line Out for some reason! King Tuff is playing the daytime show right before in the same location so it's a win, win, winwinwin!
Perhaps my favorite thing that happened yesterday at South by Southwest was when Stevie Nicks spent a good five minutes just recounting, in intricate detail, the major plot points of Joe Wright's film adaptation of Anna Karenina. This was in response to a question from Ann Powers, I think, about her songwriting inspiration and process, and was only one of many fascinating digressions in an hourlong afternoon interview that included a glimpse into her entry into Fleetwood Mac, the role of women in rock music (and her general outrage at a sense of modern-day setbacks for women), and negotiating the dynamics of taking breaks from a band to pursue a solo career. Other fun facts: she really loves Beauty and the Beast both the Jean Cocteau and television version) and always wanted/wants to be a witch for Halloween.
My second favorite thing from yesterday was probably her duet with Dave Grohl at Stubb's as part of the his Sound City Players marathon. The delicate stripped-down acoustic version of "Landslide" almost quieted all of the inane side conversations in the audience for the first time in the evening. The follow-up, "Gold Dust Woman", Nicks fully witching out with the all-star band was a highlights condender, too. The whole event felt like an endurance contest for Grohl, who was onstage throughout the variety show rock lottery that included Alain Johannes, John Fogerty, Chris Goss (Masters of Reality), Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine, drums), Pat Smear, Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters, drums), as well as Fear's Lee Ving (who, earlier in day, Dave credited for his entire music career). By the time I left — nearly three hours into the rockistest event of all time — Rick Springfield had joined the crowd. With three hours left until curfew, they showed no signs of slowing down.
After that, I cycled back to the mess of Sixth Street, dodging bros getting tasered to catch my most favorite Swedish heartthrobs Shout Out Louds who were closing out the Merge showcase at the Parish. Like everyone else here, they seem to be playing a thousand shows, yet I keep finding it difficult to catch more than a few songs in this ongoing citywide treasure hunt.
A few more photos after the jump.
From the 'Lips Facebook this morning:
Read an account of what happened, according to Rock Candy Omaha. This story makes me kind of happy. Don't go gettin' soft, you Black Lips.
EDS NOTE: Josh Bis is down in Tejas! If you're like me, you're lamenting the
fact that you're not also there, watching a million bands in the sunny-sunny sunshine... What should he go see? Tell him in the comments! —Kelly O
I know that there are dozens of Seattle bands hustling around town, but let me know in the comments if there's something absolutely unmissable that I might have overlooked or tweet at me if you want to catch up to talk taco tips. —Josh
Not that I was immune to the internal battle between herd mentality and seeking out flashy schedule additions. An e-mail from Dave Segal sent me chasing down an early, recently announced, Iggy and the Stooges performance at the Mohawk patio. Thousands of other people got the same memo, resulting in a city block transformed into one of those meditation labyrinths, hopeful attendees snaking around in an loopy yet orderly line governed only by the imaginations of the well-meaning volunteers giving it structure and providing hope that we might eventually be admitted. Instead, an hour behind two chain smoking Germans (whose only recognizable words included "Vampire", "Weekend", and "Stooges") passed with the line advancing only through attrition. Eventually, as Japandroids closed out their set, Iggy Pop parted the crowd with a white van, jumped out, waved to the fans outside, shed his shirt, and dashed through the back door and onto the stage.
Though plenty of fans turned street into a muffled listening party, I stayed outside for only a few songs and moved down the block to Stubbs, finding that I'd missed most of Nick Cave's set at the NPR showcase. At this point, I realize that SXSW is like a musical theme park except that sometimes you get to the end of the long line only to find out that the roller coaster has disappeared. Though the tech crowd at this conference long ago coined #fomo to describe the "fear" of missing out; the thousands of shows and hundreds of parties (all rsvp-able with a single click) pretty much insure the "fact" of failing to see even a fraction of the buzzworthy events playing a constant tug of war with your agenda.
Nevertheless, serendipity being the buzzword of the festival, I stuck around to see Mexico's Café Tacvba play a rollicking set that someone near me described as the perfect fusion of polka and ska to rows of screaming fans. They closed with some synchronized boy-band level dance moves and made way for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs who debuted a few songs from their upcoming album ("Mosquito") into a mix that included plenty of the hits ("Y Control", "Gold Lion", "Zero", "Maps"), Karen O presiding over the crowd in a brightly embroidered and studded costume.
NPR.org has Mr. Grohl's speech, delivered just moments ago to a very appreciative crowd. He wore drugstore grandpa glasses! And told the story of how Bruce Springsteen laughed at him. I love him.
SxSeattle is a send-off party for some musicians who are playing Austin, Texas' SXSW festival this year. On March 5 at Neumos, Lemolo, OCnotes, Spac3man, and Seacats will play a show, and all proceeds will go to the artists to help them get to SXSW and maybe eat and drink some stuff while they're there.
Online zine Flavor Pill has some nice things to say about Seattle pop-punk mood-elevators TacocaT, whom they caught at the Hardly Art showcase in Austin, Texas, and placed in their top 10 discoveries of this year's South by Southwest festival. Congrats, TacocaT.
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.
Just got kicked off stage for sayin "thanks cigs for killin granpa" at a camel event. So cigarettes don't kill? Smokes up!
Oh, Camel. None of us believe your bullshit anymore. Like this. Or this:
My first night in Austin, I slept in a van. Last night, I retreated beneath a stairwell in the streets of downtown Austin and was almost peed upon by some drunk guy who didn't heed to my vocal "Don't piss here, dude" warning. I slowly watched the urine inch closer and closer until it stopped about a foot from where my head rested upon my laptop bag, wearing the same clothes since Wednesday.
Sleeping under that stairwell was going to be impossible. I only had the clothes on my back and no blanket, and there were all sorts of street construction projects underway and two cement trucks created a loud, constant rumbling about thirty feet away. I remained there for almost two hours until the cold really set in, so I wandered the deserted streets, past the state capitol and up Guadalupe, searching for a coffee shop with a couch I could relax in 'til I had to get back to today's festivities. I caught my first actual sleep of the night at a McDonald's that opened at 6am this morning.
I enjoyed sleeping in the van more. Yesterday, I woke up in the parking lot of a Howard Johnson's, who served a mediocre continental breakfast of cereal and pastries, which I rightfully abused. CMRTYZ, who were staying at the hotel, dropped me off in downtown so I could make the blog post you read yesterday. I spent half the day at the SXSW press suite, and even enjoyed a complimentary massage that they were offering to weary writers and photographers.
The premiere of the new Bad Brains documentary is one of the things I'm sad to miss this year. This looks like a great film. See the rest of the new docs here, and read about how I tripped and fell right in front of Bad Brains, just last year, at Emo's right over here.
Bad Brains are one of the most important and influential American bands still working today. They melded punk and reggae into an innovative style that has yet to be copied. Their impact and influence can be heard in groups like Beastie Boys, No Doubt, Nirvana, Jane's Addiction and countless more. Despite the troubles of an eccentric front man they have stayed together for 30 years without ever reaching the level of success so many think they deserve. Using rare archival footage and original comic illustrations the film re-constructs Bad Brains' rich and complicated history.
On Tuesday night, my friend Crispin slept in an excavated foundation. By Wednesday night, he'd be there again, and I would be contorting my mostly naked 6'5" frame on the vinyl bench seat inside a van outside a Howard Johnson's south of Austin, acting as the DIY security guard for expensive sound equipment. In Austin, you have to be able to sleep anywhere.
Waking up this morning, it made me feel good I showered before setting out on the road to Austin from Houston yesterday. I spent the past five days in Houston waking up on a friend's couch, day-drinking at Texas' oldest brewery, eating brunch at a place called Beaver's, catching a flu that turned my insides into juice and my sheets into sweat, seeing The Men, Psychic Ills, and R. Stevie Moore one night, and seeing Girls with girls my last night in town, among many other things. In other words, if I wasn't too drunk to fuck, I was too sick to dick. Houston was a trip that was met with unexpected surprises and serendipitous moments. Nothing was planned, but everything synced.
I held off on buying a $1 Greyhound ticket from Houston to Austin (seriously) for a former colleague to make an eleventh hour confirmation about a ride to Austin with her friends on Wednesday. I may have gotten to Austin sooner on the Greyhound, but then again, you can't smoke joints on the Greyhound or get door-to-door service. The choice was made.
ICP are a featured panel interview this year. Sweet jesus, errr'body jumpin' on the juggalo wagon. And just in case YOU'RE really feeling it too, please visit the new dating site, JuggaLove: Dating for the Wicked, and get your new profile started over on JuggaloBook: A Social Network for the Underground Family.
With a new record in the works, over 20 albums under their belt, their own annual festival, a small army of underground hip hop artists by their side, and massive merchandise sales, Psychopathic Records and ICP are not to be underestimated.
The Siiickxsw party last year was the most fun I had the whole time in Austin. CMRTYZ knows how to throw a frickin' party.
Full 2012 lineup after the jump...
This is really more about the interactive segment of the festival, but wtf, it applies to all of them!
After South By Southwest, Lars had to make it back to Los Angeles, then fly up to Seattle to play two different shows in two different bands (Puberty and Intelligence), then fly back to L.A. to catch up on all the work he had missed. Here are his recollections of that long Texas weekend. —Eds.
One of my favorite bands and good friends Wounded Lion from Los Angeles asked me if I would like to play drums (and guitar) with them at SXSW. I jumped at the chance, I had a blast, and these are my complaints:
Wanting to get a good night's rest before almost a week of shows I meet some friends for dinner in L.A. at the famous "Red Lion," a german sausage restaurant (Fun Fact: 'Shrek Forever After" was written here). I have recently given up being a vegetarian after five years and now eat here four nights a week and hate myself. I celebrate my self loathing with 500 knee-high beers. I get a text from one of the caring owners of the couch I am mooching that says "Ok, it's getting late you don't want to be tired tomorrow," and I reply that I'll be home in a sec and we go to a bar and play Foosball (I hate foosball) for two hours, get very competitive and scream. At one point my buddy flips the entire table over and we are ejected. I sleep for 20 minutes and am picked up to go to the Burbank airport. Phase 1 of Operation Fuck Up complete.
Later that night, while our host is blowing up an air mattress for me, I decide to take a "cat nap" at the foot of her bed and wake up in the same place 8 hours later with her folded up on a love seat, and feel like a real turd. In the morning Shant's eye looks so fucked up I feel sick. But man was that a good Marg. I think it even had SAUZA in it.
I make everyone go to Torchy's Taco's (my fave) for breakfast, I pass on the deep-fried avacado taco since we have a daytime show at Beerland today for a bill that the great Matador Records' Gerald Cosley has put together. When I meet him he says he's a longtime Intelligence fan and has ordered the new Puberty record already, so I guess I can die even if we don't get DISCOVERED this week.
Our buddy the amazing tour manager (for Fresh and Onlys right now) gets us into the Black Lips/Bad Brains/Off! show. I chat with Shayde Fresh and Only about True Blood until we get so excited we embarrass ourselves. The singer from the Donnas is playing what one of us describes as "the fakest music ever made," so we go get hot dogs and sit in the gutter. I go back to watch Off! and see Ian Black Lips, who tells me "If I could go back in time and tell 15-year-old Ian that Keith Morris's and Steve McDonald's new band and the Bad Brains are going to be opening for me I'd flip my wig." And Jared proclaims "I just smoked out with HR!" We see our hosts band SIMPLE CIRCUT and they are great. We go home and I repeat the cat nap trick.
Daytime show behind a bookstore. It takes forever to get there because of the traffic and eventually we're on a one-lane street behind one of those stupid Rick Shaw bicycles pedaling some dipshit two miles-per-hour up a slight incline. You could seriously do the human centipede faster than these clowns are going and you wouldn't have nine miles of cars behind you. Get to the bookstore and the person in front of me receives the last foamy squirts of the keg. The show turns out really fun. We notice a cute girl with a tattoo of Animal from the muppets on her leg and begin quizzing each other if that is a dealbreaker. We decide it is until she sets up her drums and goes FUCKING CRAZY and decide it's a deal-MAKER. Next we are to play a house party at 9 pm and they've asked us to get there at 7. We do and no one is there except a guy behind a huge drum kit in the living room who holds perfectly still until you walk in with your arms full with a heavy amp and he rapes your naked ears with the biggest drum 'radamfuck' you've ever heard. Repeatedly. We sit on the curb for two eternities until our buddies from Shannon and the Clams come to give us some comic relief. They tell us of Bonging the Cube, an advanced new beer-guzzling technique where you stab a hole in each can of a 12 pack and hold the drizzling beer box over a funnel. We argue if this is actually possible, as it would seem that it would take an hour for 12 beers to drain out of their puncture wounds. Discuss.
While waiting and waiting and waiting, a minivan pulls up and a lady in red leather thigh high boots, red leather mini skirt, red leather bustier and fishnets pops out. Brad says "I guess I will stop worrying if my brand new red Vans are making me stick out." The sexy red leather band plays and the house is packed and we are next so I assume it'll be great. I do not count on the fact that a drunk guy will find a rope in the front yard, set a bucket up in the middle of the street and announce that he's about to "THROW A ROPE KNOT," and everyone circles around him. He tries to whip the rope into a knot unsuccesfully about 500 times and we start to set up. We start playing in the empty room and Shant will tell me later, "I actually thought, 'These suckers, they are going to be BUMMED that they missed the first half of this song.'" No one enters the room. On the bright side, two of the four people stay (one who leaves is Tom Lax of Siltbreeze Records), but the two that stay are a nutzo dancing couple and at one point the girl even puts a lampshade on her head. We head back home and retire to the awesome outdoor porch to bond (over Magruber actually being a hilarious movie) and complain (about ropes).
Today we are playing a daytime outdoor show sponsored by Sailor Jerry. Some people have mixed emotions about this. I, however, mix my emotions with rum and ginger beer and a bunch of great bands playing and shut the fuck up. The Wax Museums are fantastic and play my favorite song, "Breakfast for Dinner," which contains the lines "You can't make an omelet/Without cracking eggs/I don't want an omelet/I want what's between her legs," and "You can't make pancakes/Without making batter/I don't want pancakes/And I don't care what's the matter." I get to hang with my best buddy Pete from Coconut Coolouts and meet Personal and the Pizzas, who are so fun/funny you want to be them. Sailor Jerry asks us to do an interview in an airstream trailer and ply us with rum and offer us free tattoos. I get DUCK HUNT across my knuckles. We have a long time before our show later, so we go home for a while. Upon passing a Chilis, Brad asks if we "ever get down with Chili's?" and it turns out some do, so it's suggested for dinner. My plan was to eat tacos for five days straight, but this is so hilarious I am happy to roll with it. I send a joke text to Shannon from the Clams saying "I guess I am eating Chili's for dinner," and she replies "NO you are not, you DO have a choice." I order a twice-stuffed-bacon-chicken-chipotle-babyback-avocado-mushroom-grilled-sirloin-monterey-cajun-ranch mudpie, and we have a nice family dinner.
Later we go to the CMRTYZ curated show that is outside at a place called [name redacted]. The Portland band Christmas is playing and they rule. We play next outside under a giant full moon with a ton of Seattle friends and Lion fans going nuts and while playing I get such a feeling of satisfaction (pardon me—GROSS—I know) that my mind deletes the files of the shitty house party the night before. My buddy tells me a story of having to go number two in one of the horrid porta-pottys, and—realizing he has a bottle of whiskey in his back pocket—figures he'll use his time-management skills and take a swig. Of course just then the door pops open and 2,000 of the prettiest girls in Austin see him crappin' and drinking. His heart freezes and he just bellows 'TAKE ME TO THE HOSPITAL!!!"
Later at Beerland, I see an old band friend that we ran into on tour in Europe last year who had invited us out for drink, for which he and his old lady bring their 1-year-old son, offer us blow, drink two bottles of wine in ten seconds and can't hear the kid screaming over the blasting techno music until they finally notice him wriggling under the blanket, which was just draped over the entire stroller, pick him up and say "Oh man, he's SOAKED to the bone." Bummer City. Later I see him and his lady and wonder about the kid and then notice that the blanketed stroller is pushed into the back corner of the smoking patio surrounded by 9,000 chain smoking rockers. He waves me over and tries to talk and some slime ball leans over and asks him how much coke to buy. He replies "Just get it all and we'll sort it out later." Right then the mom drops her beer bottle and it smashes on the ground and kid starts bawling under the blanket. I walk into a porta-potty and hang myself.
We only have one show tonight at midnight, so we head over to Trailer Space to see Shannon and the Clams but miss them as they got put on an hour early. So we just hang on a porch across the street with the Pete and the Pizzas and I don't watch a single of the 10 good bands playing inside until the Pizzas play last and are my favorite band of this whole trip. They are hilarious and as they are about to start—just after Grass Widow (who are great) finishes their set—the singer goes, "What....the...fuck....was....that?" I see my friend Lacey, and when someone offers her a beer she says "No thanks, I think if I drink I will explode."
The show is fun with lots of dancing and a nice one to go out on. As we wait to get paid I notice a girl in an amazing dress and realize all my pictures are of disgusting toilets and maybe it would be nice to have some pictures that don't make you barf, so I embarassingly ask if I can take a picture of her cool dress. She is visibly bummed/creeped out. I frantically try to explain that it's for a newspaper and that I am in a band that played tonight and blah blah blah, and she stops scowling and asks which band and turns out she came to see us and then finds out I'm in the Intelligence and grabs both my hands and holds them in the sky for an awkwardly long time and says she loves me and puts our band on every mix cd she's ever made and I am stoked until I look over and see the most bummed-out dude ever (her boyfriend) glaring at us from a bench. We head home and chit-chat and tell jokes ("What's the difference between a bag of coke and a baby? Eric Clapton never let a bag of coke fall out of a window." Don't worry, I GROANED TOO.) until 4 am when we have to leave for the airport. I am wiped, but I can't wait to review all of my new contacts and see how my networking pans out.
"Vockah's raunchy lyrics have a gospel-like passion, a burning, defiant pride. It was "just" dance party music, but it was life-affirming…My SXSW had been redeemed at the very last moment…"
-Michael Azzerad, 2010
Vockah Redu was one of the very last artists I saw at SXSW, and he was also the best. My friends had caught an afternoon set by the New Orleans Sissy Bounce-r at Beerland, and their breathless enthusiasm had me utterly convinced that I had to see Redu's set later that night at the Emo's indoor stage. They were eager to see him for the second time in one day, and I can't say I blame them—Vockah Redu's performance was one of the most energetic and ridiculous spectacles I've seen in a long, long time.
Admittedly, he danced more than he rapped, but that wasn't the point: the point was to engage, impress, and exult. Backed by four booty-popping gays in jeggings, Redu tapped into a formidable internal reservoir of boundless liveliness, tossing his fro about and spitting out aggro dub-style scatting. He contorted his body, posed theatrically, writhed on the floor, and willed the crowd into frenzied participation. His set had at least three false endings—by design—which seemed to sate a crowd that, high on endorphins, lusted for an encore.
It was weird, it was wild, and it was the most fun I think I had all week. Dave Halegua of Olympia band Christmas traded one of their new full-lengths for Redu's demo CD. Through the magic of filesharing, I've been bumping it for the past couple days now. It's a tight disc, but doesn't come anywhere close to approximating the experience of his live show. Here's a standout cut from the demo that gives a good indication of how Redu's call-and-response with the audience plays out:
BTW "vockah" is, if I recall correctly, how Mike Schank from American Movie pronounces "vodka."
Obviously, Grant and Kelly were impressed by Redu as well. Watch the Stranger's exclusive live clip from the Emo's set here.