SXSW Part 4

SXSW Part 4

SATURDAY

Brugos and I met downtown and sought out an entire set of The Research. Despite technical difficulties on the part of the keyboardist, I thought they were really good. If a shitty show is that much fun, imagine how great they are when all their equipment is working. It helped that they brought in a cute bohemian girl as a guest vocalist.

We also partook in a free buffet at the venue. More free stuff! This time, my body was overjoyed to be eating free carrots and green beans instead of free booze.

Next we took a long stroll toward the University area to try and find the venue where Matthew Sweet and Susannah Hoffs were to play together. When we got there, it appeared that everything was behind schedule. We figured we had at least an hour to kill, so we walked further into the university area and saw all the vintage shops and super cool college kids.

When we got back, we sat through one more set before Sweet and Hoffs came on. In the meantime, there was plenty of people watching. It was clear that we’d stumbled into the “older person” tent. The older crowd was having a great time, dancing and singing along to the bands. It was kind of a refreshing sight, after having spent a week hanging out with hipsters who don’t smile and insist on wearing black even in hot weather. (And yes, I’m aware that I am one of these people.)

Sweet and Hoffs finally came on to a very receptive audience. They played all covers of 60’s songs including one of my favorites, “Different Drum” (written my Mike Nesmith from the Monkees!).

We were hungry and had our eyes on an Indian restaurant across the street. By the time we got in there, it was very full and there was a 45 minute wait for a table, but we were able to finagle our way into the bar and eat appetizers for dinner.

We headed back downtown to meet Andrew. He was delayed at a wristband party but convinced us to wait for him inside the Emo’s Annex, where a band that he really wanted to see was going to be playing later that night. We paid our cover and secured a nice cushy spot on a ledge by the side of the stage. We watched a few really good bands and waited to hear from Andrew. Eventually, he called and told us that he was stuck outside and they weren’t letting anyone else in. This time, there was no Aziz to help us out. I went to talk to him. There was nothing they could do. He didn’t get there in time. He was really pissed that he wasn’t going to get to see I Love You Buy I’ve Chosen Darkness. With a name like that, they HAVE to be good, right? Well, Andrew…you didn’t miss much. The best bands came on before them. By the time they went on, they have been overshadowed by their peers and couldn’t live up to the hype. Brugos and I left after the first song or two, and went to find Justin, who was also stuck outside the tent.

Andrew went back to his VIP situation. Justin, Brugos and I were left to our own devices, and, at that point, there wasn’t really a music venue we could get into, so we went back to the Fox and the Hound. By the time the our first round of drinks came, I realized I was EXHAUSTED and just wanted to go to bed. I tried to drink my drink but I couldn’t do it. Justin, who had been in bed all day, was raring to go. He said he didn’t mind sticking around, though, we our unfinished drinks. So Brugos and I shared a cab to our respective hotels and called an end to our last night in Austin.

SUNDAY

The next morning, Justin, Brugos and Andrew convened at my hotel (Jacob had gone home the previous morning). I checked out and we got some breakfast at the Star Seeds café next door.

I took advantage of access to proper grits. Meanwhile, Andrew and Brugos both ordered something called the A-Bomb. From what I could tell, the A-Bomb consisted of two English muffins topped with scrambled eggs, sausage, and queso. It was HUGE and very daunting. Andrew’s was heavy on the queso, while Brugos’ appeared to be heavy on the egg. Either way, finishing it might have killed them. But somehow it didn’t. Justin and I were not able to join the clean plate club that day.

We had a few hours to kill before we needed to get to the airport, so we decided to call a cab to take us to a multiplex. We were going to see Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. Our cab driver dropped us off, and offered to come back and get us after the movie to take us to the airport. It was only 11:30 at the time and the movie didn’t start till after noon, so we dragged our luggage around the deserted strip mall in search of coffee for Andrew. Multiple buffet options they had. Coffee, they did not.

When we got back to the theatre, it was open. They let us stash our luggage in the box office. At the last minute, we forfeited laughter for the option of watching people die. We bought 4 tickets to “The Hills Have Eyes”.

There was still time before the movie started, and guess what they had in the lobby…DDR!! The perfect way to burn off the A-Bomb or a plate of fried eggs and grits! I’m sure the employees of the theatre aren’t accustomed to having a group of young adults with suitcases come into their theatre on a Sunday, buy tickets to a horror movie and then play 3 rounds of DDR.

The movie got out a little late. Andrew called out cabbie. I guess he had been there already and waited for us, then drove off. He came back about 10 minutes later. It was 2:20. He said it takes 45 minutes to an hour to get to the airport. Our plane was taking off at 3:53. He told us we might miss it. Andrew and Brugos said we’d be fine. I was worried because I like to worry.

But we were fine. It didn’t take 45 minutes to get to the airport. I don’t know why the guy told us that it did. Maybe he likes to make his passengers sweat. Maybe it was revenge for making him wait. Regardless, we checked in and got to the gate no problem. I even had time to buy a sandwich.

On the first flight we had both Hotchip and the Research. I felt pretty cool to be flying with rock stars.

For some dumb reason, our flight connected in Chicago. When we taxied, the captain told us we weren’t able to get to the gate. The time of our connecting flight drew near and even though it was due to leave from the same gate we were landing in, it seemed like we might miss it.

Andrew and I passed the time by looking at pictures on his camera phone. He also logged onto MSN and sent Sherwood a message saying we were stuck on a plane. This confounded Sherwood, who then texted me on my cell and said “I just got the strangest message from Andrew.”

Eventually, we got to the gate. When we de-boarded, we discovered that not only was our connecting flight delayed, but that it was actually THE SAME PLANE we were just on. It would have been nice to have that information earlier.

On the flight from Chicago to Seattle, Andrew was kind enough to share his video I-Pod with me. We watched several episodes of Futurama, the Apache video, the first 10 min of Rear Window and half a Seinfeld episode before the battery died. Unfortunately, there was still quite a bit of time left in the flight. Andrew nodded off. Brugos was a row up and over and asleep. I cursed people who are able to sleep on planes and then I restlessly took to my puzzle book. And for some reason, the grumpypuss stewardess didn’t want me to have any water.

We finally landed in Seattle, were picked up by Andrew’s lovely friend Libby and home we went to sleep and prepare ourselves to come back to reality.

Who wants to go to Austin next year?!

SXSW Part 3

WEDNESDAY

Jacob and I met Brugos, Justin and Cherry at Baby Acapulco’s, a Mexican restaurant by their hotel. I was finally getting my appetite back. The waiter fattened us up with tortilla chips, bringing a second basket when Jacob and I arrived. We had only gotten through half of one basket before they took it away and brought us another one which was OVERFLOWING with tortilla goodness. Out of control. By the time out food got there, we had completely spoiled our appetites, which was too bad because our plates were HUGE. My breakfast quesadilla was THREE LAYERS THICK, and it came with a huge side of beans and potatoes. We ate as much as we could. Luckily, we had a long walk ahead of us to the bus stop. On our way out, Brugos attempted to play a quick game of Star Wars pinball (the original, beyotch!). Sadly, the machine ate his ball, but we were still able to listen to the glorious electronic version of the score.

As we meandered through the suburbs, it amazed all of us that Brugos had been able to find the bus stop to downtown in the first place. Somehow, on his first day, his instincts had led his through twists and turns and down random streets in entirely the right direction.

We stopped briefly at a corner shop so that I could buy new sunglasses and we could all get some water, and then we got our bus which took us down a very cute section of town and through the University.

When we got downtown, Cherry picked up her car and went home to get some sleep.

Jacob, Justin, Brugos and I wandered around downtown looking for some music. We ended up at a place called Headhunters, where we saw several bands both in the upstairs and downstairs section. None of the music was that engaging to me, but I was enjoying just hanging out in a cluttered tiki environment. One of the bands that we saw was made up of ex-member of Nashville Pussy.

At one point the 4 of us became engaged in a video trivia system downstairs. One of the games was a “spot the difference” game featuring half-clad ladies. Even with the 4 of us, we still couldn’t manage to beat the high score. We were able to at least get our name on the high score list though. Team Surf Taco! One word of advice when playing that game: Always start with the boobies.

Next, we headed to the Alamo Downtown to catch a showing of “The Cassidy Kids”. Again, it wasn’t much of a problem for us to all get in. Jacob and I got in first and saved seats for Justin and Brugos. The whole thing was really low pressure. I LOVE this festival.

The movie, however, totally sucked. The script was heavy handed and repetitive. The child acting was rather poor, and the whole thing lasted about 40 minutes longer than it needed to. Still, it’s hard to be TOO upset about a bad movie when you are being served beer whilst watching it.

After the movie, we attempted to meet up with Andrew, Derek & Aiyana, but they were in a venue we couldn’t get into without wrist bands. So instead, we went to the rooftop bar right NEXT to where they were. It was actually the best possible place to be if you couldn’t get into the venue, because we were able to hear the band clear as day. And the super-secret band in question? The Flaming Lips! They opened with a spot on cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. We heard another 4 or 5 songs before we had to split to catch a midnight movie.

We went back to the Alamo Downtown to watch “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon”. It starts off documentary style as an aspiring slasher killer prepares to fulfill his destiny as the next horror legend. It’s a very cleverly scripted, well acted, suspenseful and funny movie. It ended being the best movie we saw at SXSW and I really hope the guys get distribution for it.

After the movie, it was definitely sleepy-time for us.

THURSDAY

While Jacob went off to catch some bands down South Lamar way, I met Brugos downtown. We finally met up with Andrew, Derek & Aiyana at Emo’s. We were able to catch the end of a set by a band that I’d never heard before but REALLY liked, called The Research. They consisted of a girl bass player, girl drummer and guy with a tiny Casio keyboard on his lap. Their songs were light and fun and I really wanted to hear more of them.

We sat in the backyard area of Emo’s at a picnic table and had some refreshing beverages in the sun for a while. Eventually, Derek & Aiyana had plans to catch a band elsewhere. Andrew, Brugos and I attempted to get into the Filter party, but they weren’t letting anyone without a wrist band in. Andrew was nice enough to forgo the party for a while, and went back to the Fox and Hound for drink.

Whilst there, Andrew saw a band that he recognized, called Hotchip, and he said hello. Andrew is such a scenester.

Brugos and I were severely hankering to check out Peter Pan mini golf. It was a really nice day and the timing felt right. Andrew wasn’t into it, so he went back to find Derek & Aiyana, and Brugos and I trekked across the bridge to our mini golf destinies.

Peter Pan mini golf is AWESOME!! First of all, there’s no discernable reason why Peter Pan gets the whole thing named after him, since there’s no theme within the course itself. There’s one hole which features pan, another hole with a nazi pirate and one hole with a VERY small crocodile head, but, as far as I can recall, there were no whales, big red dogs, giant angry bunnies or T-Rexes in Peter Pan. It didn’t matter though. The randomness was part of its charm.

Another part of its charm was the fact that most of the hole involved shooting balls into the mouths of things and having them shoot out what can only be described as their butts. Whoever designed this park had a definite fetish.

It turns out Brugos and I are worthy adversaries in the game of mini golf. I beat him by 1 point the first round, and he barely beat me in the second. And both of us were pretty close to par.

After getting our fill of mini golf, we hopped on the ‘Dillo and met everyone back at Emo’s. We got there just in time to catch the end of an Of Montreal set. Andrew texted Sherwood to tell him that they played an awesome cover of “The Final Countdown”. (Which Brugos and I sadly missed). Sherwood apparently didn’t know who sent him the message so he texted back “Thank you for the information, kind stranger”.

Next on the agenda was to find some dinner. Since we needed to be back by the bridge later that evening for Spoon and Echo and the Bunnymen, we headed toward a sub shop in the area.

On the way, we crossed back over the bridge just in time to see the thousands of bats who dwell underneath, leaving their home for the night to find food. It was really cool looking, but, unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the bridge to take a picture. The one I took makes them look like birds or a cloud of dust.

At the sub shop, I had the most AMAZING vegetarian chicken sandwich and a piece of carrot cake. I will never forget you, veggie chicken sandwich.

We got to the big outdoor venue in time catch the Spoon set. Cherry, Brugos, Jacob and I got suckered into buying some “alcoholic” frozen drinks for $7 in novelty plastic coconuts. Said drinks were nothing more than frozen Boon’s and it was impossible to finish them. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Brugos took advantage of the free mini Spam burgers from the happy Spam truck. Jacob took off to get a closer look at the stage, and Cherry, Brugos and I rested our barking dogs under a tent.

Echo came on and they sounded really good from where we were sitting. I felt no desire to get closer to the stage. Near the end of the set, we wandered around looking for beer, but could only find bud. Eventually, we settled on Tecates. Jacob appeared and we left during the encore to avoid the crowd.

On our way back across the bridge, I saw what is currently my favorite piece of graffiti ever: “Fuck Ice Cream”. Some poor lactose intolerant person felt the need to express their frustration in permanent maker on a bridge. I feel their pain.

The plan was to meet Justin and Andrew at a show back downtown. Unfortunately, the venue where we were to meet them had become wrist bands only. If we’d gotten there slightly earlier, we probably could have gotten in. Regrettably, Justin had already PAID to get in, and he hadn’t yet met Andrew, who was already in the venue.

I saw this as an opportunity to try and get into the Twilight Singers show. I wasn’t terribly optimistic that we would be able to get in, but I wanted to check out the line, so we headed over there and scoped out the scene.

During the music part of SXSW, there’s a lot of “wait and see” time. We were told that they MIGHT let in 25-30 more non-wristband people if they got the word from on-high to do so. So we waited in line. Meanwhile, Brugos called Justin and told him to hurry up and get to the club. Before long, they started to let us in. Justin was still nowhere to be found and not answering his cell, so Brugos did all he could by texting the word “run”.

We all paid our money, got in, and set about finding a good place to lurk. I got my first bizarre interpretation of a Greyhound of the trip, which featured a cherry. (Later, they mixed it up by putting salt on the rim the cup.) We sat next to a wooden statue of some Robert E. Lee looking dude. Miraculously, Justin WAS able to get in. We found out later that it was an error on the part of the door men because the show was over capacity and the fire chief threatened to shut the whole thing down.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen, because the Twilight Singers put on an AMAZING show. Holy shit! I forgot how engaging a musician Greg Dulli is. He’s looking pretty bloated these days, but when he starts singing, he’s still as sexy as ever. I was once again an enraptured 17-year-old girl.

The downside to us being over capacity was that there was NO WAY that Cherry and Justin could go outside for a smoke and get let back in. They overcame adversity, however, when they noticed that members of the band were actually smoking. SO they threw caution to the wind and lit up.

After the show, I saw Greg signing autographs and decided I wanted a picture with the big sweat man. Just as I approached him, he began to head outside. He said he’d take a picture with me if I came outside, so Brugos and I begged the doorman to let us back in after and he agreed. Cherry and Justin were also able to bargain their way outside for a cigarette.

Once outside, Greg seemed very distracted. And by distracted, I mean he was hammered. He was busy hugging people and I felt like an utter tool standing there waiting for him to remember why I was standing there. I gave up and went back inside. But Brugos stayed outside and Cherry eventually got a picture with him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he thought that Cherry and I were actually the same girl.

Back inside the club, the New Amsterdams were setting up. The New Amsterdams are made up of the pussy half of The Get Up Kids. (The rock half went on to form Reggie and the Full Effect). I used to be really into both halves of the The Kids. Turns out, I’m over that. I was SO bored during their set. Cherry and I gabbed loudly through it and annoyed the piss out of Jacob, who actually moved to the other side of the stage to get away from us.

An evil lady came around with free samples of Jack and Coke, which I had the good sense to refuse. It still amazes me how much free stuff was CONSTANTLY being thrown around for the sake of advertising. And how much of that stuff was actually alcohol based. Did I mention I LOVE this festival?

After the show, we headed out into the post-last call infested streets. We lost Justin and had to scout around for him. When we finally found him, he was sitting on a curb, surrounded by newspapers…ASLEEP. I really wish I’d taken a picture before I called out his name. It was so adorably sad looking.

After we woke Justin up, we went on a mission for food. There was a line for the “Best Wurst” which went around the block. I ducked into a convenience store and bought some Chex Mix. Justin and Brugos settled in Gyros.

Fully carbed, we headed to Cherry’s car. Justin said he had to pee and disappeared. Unfortunately, Cherry and I ALSO had to pee, and we weren’t about to follow Justin under a bridge to do so. We hoped he was just on his way back, but 10 minutes later, he was still nowhere to be found. Brugos insisted that we should just leave and he would find his own way. Apparently, this is pretty normal behavior for him.

Just as we were about to pull onto the freeway, Justin called. He had apparently made friends with a hobo under the bridge. I’m thinking of creating a children’s story character based on Justin.

FRIDAY

Cherry picked us all up around 11:30 and we drove to Japanese Garden type venue where were saw an adorable band called Little Brazil. They were serving free beer (some of it green. Happy St. Paddy’s!). It was way too early for beer for me, but Brugos and Justin partook. I saw a guy who, for a while, had me convinced it was Zach Galifianakis. But upon closer inspection, and spy-camera tactics, I realized it was just an indie musician doppelganger. Bummer.

Next, we went back to Headhunters to see a band called Von Iva who Jacob had encountered in San Fran. They were a really rocking all girl band and very animated for so early in the day. Cherry and I each bought a CD and the lead singer said that if we liked the show at 1:30, we should catch them at night because then they would be at 100% capacity.

Jacob had devised a tight schedule for us to follow. But rule #3 of SXSW music fest is to never PLAN on anything. Bands cancel, shows get moved. You can never be sure what’s actually going to happen. Because of that, we rather unexpectedly ended up at the Emo’s Annex, watching Patton and Aziz Ansari doing warm-up bits in between band sets. We got to see Patton do his Black Angus bit, which is NEVER not eye-wateringly funny.

Once again, we lucked into a place right before it was over capacity. Andrew was not so lucky. He really wanted to get in to see the next band. We were already in and ambivalent. Andrew was stuck in a line outside. We planned on leaving which would, hopefully, free up some space for Andrew to get in eventually. But before we left, Cherry and I wanted to introduce ourselves to Aziz and tell him how much we enjoyed his set at Emo’s. He was really nice and made small talk with us. He noted that there were a lot of people stuck in line outside. I agreed and said that my friend Andrew was one of those people and that he really wanted to get in to see the next band. Aziz IMMEDIATLEY volunteered to BRING ANDREW IN THROUGH THE BACKSTAGE ENTRANCE! What?! Seriously?! I just MET you, threw a few compliments your way and you volunteer a favor like that? The Comedians of Comedy are the nicest people on the face of the Earth.

Aziz followed me to the entrance and I pointed out Andrew, who was “the guy in the Ghostbusters t-shirt and aviator glasses” and Aziz went out, grabbed Andrew, and took him around to the back. Unbelievable. I should send that guy a basket of muffins or something.

We had a little time to kill, so we went to find some food. I scored an incredible Portobello and bri burger, and got yet another weird interpretation of a greyhound, this time with a lime.

Next we went to see if the Brian Jonestown Massacre was indeed going to play a show. They weren’t. Our plan B was to catch Clap your Hands Say Yeah. Of course, the line for that was around the block. Jacob was determined to wait in it. The rest of us were kind of restless. First, Cherry, Justin and I wandered around to see if we could get in anywhere else. Justin toted around a rebar that he’d found. Perhaps he had hoped to intimidate someone into letting us in? No such luck. Back in line, we noticed that there was a very large hill above the venue. Even if we couldn’t SEE anything from on the hill, it would be a great place to sit and have a drink while listening to the band. Cherry waited in line with Jacob while Justin, Brugos and I went off to find a liquor store. We bought some champagne and a six-pack of cider and checked back in line. Cherry and Jacob had moved quite a bit, but the door man was saying that they weren’t letting anyone else in. This was our cue to carry on with the Drinking on the Hill Plan. Jacob persisted in waiting in line and the rest of us scouted a way onto the hill. Cherry suddenly realized she was very tired and left us. Justin, Brugos and I found a nice little spot on the hill, waved to Jacob in line, and cracked open some beer. It wasn’t long before other people joined us. Soon, the hill was full of people, and we felt pretty cool for being the pioneers of a really good idea.

Jacob eventually made it in to the venue, but somehow got confused and thought he’d missed Clap Your Hands, so he joined us on the hill. He got there just in time for the unmistakable sounds of CYHSY’s first song. Doh! I think he made the right decision though. The hill was the place to be.

After our hill party, we went to another venue to check out some bands that were on Jacob’s list. The rest of us weren’t feeling any of them though. We stuck it out for as long as we could, before resolving to wander around instead.

We easily snuck into a party at the Speakeasy, a place we’d been briefly a few nights before. We ordered some drinks and killed time on their cushy couches. The plan was to attempt to get into the world premiere of “Slither” at midnight.

But like I said, plans are not easily kept in Austin. As we headed out, I realized I no longer had my cell phone. This was bad. Jacob had left his cell phone in the hotel so the only way I could get ahold of him would be to find him at the movie. But the time we got to the theatre, he had already been let in. There was no way all of us could get in, but I was able to go with my badge (thank god for that) and find Jacob. I told him I’d lost my phone and, even if I could sit down for the movie, I didn’t want to because I’d be worried about my phone the whole time.

As I emerged from the theatre, I saw a familiar face. It was the Creepy Dude who’d kidnapped up in his van! I instinctively changed course, hoping that he wouldn’t see Brugos and Justin, but when I looked back, I saw that he had.

I reluctantly approached the group and said hello to him. He asked me when I’d lost my phone. I could tell he was hoping it had been days ago, thus providing an explanation as to why I hadn’t called. I told him that it was just a few hours ago. He seemed pretty pissed about that. He and Brugos took turns calling my phone while Justin went back to the Speakeasy to ask around in there. Finally, someone answered my phone. They said they were a waiter at Speakeasy and they would hold the phone until we came and got it. Just then, Justin walked around the corner talking into my phone. Silly Justin.

The first crisis was averted, but Creepy Dude wanted to hang out. We said we were tired and were going back to our hotel. He offered us a ride. We said we’d get a cab. He got the hint and angrily walked away. I felt kinda bad, but I wasn’t in the mood to have my urine collected that night.