Monday, 22 March 2010

South by South West - Messing with Texas (part 1)

Sooo, the original plan was to keep a day-by-day SxSW diary, but...well...that just didn't happen. Internet cafes seem to be a dying breed these days and there was just too much going on all the time. There was a computer in my hotel, but with a beyond sucky connection speed and a maximum fifteen minute usage policy, it proved pretty hopeless.

Instead, this is a sort of mega post...well, two mega posts....covering most of the fun that went down in Austin over the past week.

Sunday 14th March

I arrived in Austin after the first Greyhound bus experience of my life. Most of the weirdos in Houston seem to gather around the coach station, so it was an "interesting" way to start the day. I also realised that vegetarians aren't really that well catered for in Texas, so my first American breakfast consisted of Doritos and a bottle of water.

The interactive branch of SxSW was still in full swing, so the city was literally mobbed with bloggers, web developers and other electronic geeks. Maybe it was just because I was on my own and had no idea of where to go, but at first Austin was a bit intimidating. Hordes of people everywhere, rushing between festival parties and seminars. It was just a bit full on. Anyway, completely by accident I stumbled across a poster saying that Jad Fair was in town, not for SxSW, but playing a show in small theatre hall along with some other bands. BINGO! Jad is a bit of a personal hero of mine, so this was a most excellent way to start off the week in Austin.

Jad Fair doing his thing

The Salvage Vanguard Theatre is quite far away from most of the festival action, but eventually I found my way there. I met a bunch of lovely people, saw some hideously bizarre support act (the less said the better....really) and eventually Mr Fair and Co hit the stage. I'm not too familiar with his solo stuff, but it didn't really matter. He played Secret, which is my favorite Half Japanese song, so all was well in the world...and suddenly Austin didn't seem so bad.

Monday 15th March
is a bit of a blur. Not quite sure what I did. Sun, beer etc. Haha. Maybe I will add something later.

Tuesday 16th March

Another day of exploring the city, this time in the rain. Went to the Highland Mall, which was an intensely depressing experience - the ultimate symbol of America in a recession. It was a completre ghost mall, with shop assistant far outnumbering the shoppers.
The best thing about Austin during SxSW is all the unofficial parties and events going on. The whole town goes music crazy and people turn their shops, restaurants and even houses into venues for the week. I found a place called House of Guys, which was literally some guys' house and they were putting on a bunch of bands in the evening.

The Fungi Girls at House of Guys

Since this was the evening Allo Darlin' arrived in Austin I didn't have time to see much, but managed to catch a band called The Fungi Girls. It was quite an experience watching a couple hundred people trying to crowd into a living room.

The Fungi Girls myspace

Wednesday 17th March

The first proper day of SxSW music. Allo Darlin arrived safely and we spent most of the day registering, getting wristbands, catching up and drinking free bar at some Brooklyn Lager party. In the evening it was time for their official showcase, at a venue called The Tap Room at Six.

The band was in good form and showed no signs of jet lag. The venue wasn't the most exciting of places, but the gig still went down well. It was the first time I'd seen a full Allo Darlin set with Greg on bass and it was nice to see him being so into it and fitting in so well with the rest of the band.

Paul and Elizabeth at Allo Darlin's official showcase gig

Thursday 18th March

The first really busy day and the sun was shining again. Started off by heading to the far east of 6th Street to see Slow Club. They were in good spirits, but weren't having much luck with their gear. The amp kept breaking down, drum kit kept falling apart. In the end they just gave up and finished off their set acoustically.

After Slow Club we headed over to the lawn party at the French Legation Museum. We had some free beer, listened to The Antlers in the background, before heading back to 6th again to catch Quasi playing at a parking lot.

Sam and Janet were in great form and played an amazing set. I haven't managed to get hold of the new album yet, but from what I heard it should be ace.

When they finished we headed back to the lawn party to see if could see some of Dum Dum Girls. By now, the place was completely mobbed and it proved impossible to see much of the band....or to get to the free beer.

In the evening I met up with some old friends from Sweden and convinced them to come along to see Japanther. Their show was at 1am and by then the free beer and free pour tequila was making itself known.

Japanther are always great live and despite the show being in a shitty lounge bar, they gave it all they. Hmmm...I really don't remember much after this show, but somehow I managed to get home. Yay.

To be continued....

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