Sunday, March 16, 2008

SXSW 2008 Day Four

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 5:24 PM

Saturday I awoke at noon to a dry mouth, a hangover, and general signs of fatigue. Day Parties are just not in the cards when you go three days without eating anything, getting all your caloric intake entirely from whiskey and beer, and walking around Austin for 10 hours straight every day! So, Saturday was less the raging party of Friday night, but it was still great night of great people and great music.

Here on the left is the schedule I wrote up over beer and whiskey at Mugshots. Note that most of what I wrote down I didn't see. That's just how it rolls at SXSW. Take Monotonix. There was not a person I spoke to who wasn't raving about their shows. "YOU HAVE TO SEE MONOTONIX!' was the word I kept hearing over and over again. By the sounds of it, this was THE band that blew everyone's mind at this year's SXSW and if I missed out then I missed out on the biggest shit going down this year. But it was just not meant to be. Fuck schedules, you catch what you can and rolling with good friends and having a good time is a better way to approach SXSW than killing yourself trying to see everything. If that's lame, so be it.

The evening started out with Jandek performing at the Central Presbyterian Church. Now, let me just say this going into this. My appreciation of Jandek up until this point was almost academic. I appreciated the singularity of what he did as an artist and his devotion to his work and owned a couple of his records but never felt an emotional connection to what he did. The thin sounding recordings of the LPs always felt cold and distant as if you were peering in but never involved. This night though changed all those perceptions entirely. The band consisted of drums, lap steel (the always brilliant Susan Alcorn), violin, and cello. Inside the church, with its lush acoustics it sounded massive and warm like nothing I'd have expected from the albums I'd owned. It was very spiritual, patient, and as ethereal as a dream cloud. It was an inspiring and emotionally engaging highlight of SXSW for me. Honestly!

From there I went off to see Deer Tick whose debut on FEOW! records was one of my most played CDs last year. This time Deer Tick was a full band and it was a bit more rocking than what I'd expected and while it lost the intimacy of his acoustic performances his raw and emotive voice still packed a punch. John McCauley was clearly having a great time as he was horribly cheeky the entire evening and even followed the emotionally gut-wrenching "Dirty Dishes" with a full on version of "La Bamba" which was goofy to be sure but a hoot. It's a shame McCauley is so underrated as a musician, writer, and performer; he deserves better. If you missed, his debut last year go back and pick it up and see what I mean.

From there it was back to the Church to see Christina Carter and Sean David McMillan who also benefited from the lovely acoustics. I only wish the vocals were clearer. The PA could deliver the subtleties and emotiveness of her voice but not the words which was a minor complaint as the performance was a still a nuanced, patient, and brilliant. Her guitar playing was as inspiring as ever and Sean's interaction was perfection. Thanks you Signal to Noise; it's a shame I couldn't see the rest of your showcase.

Next was Hearts of Animals over at Bourbon Rocks' patio stage. She ripped through a solid set and drew a good sized crowd that stayed throughout. Yet, I couldn't help but feel it wasn't her most assured performance. She just seemed a bit nervous to me but Chris Gray thought she pegged it as did the Young Mammals and the Tontons who were standing with me. So maybe that sense of her nervousness was some weird transposition from too much booze and walking without enough food. It was great to see her get some well-deserved live exposure and appreciation outside of Houston. Bummer I'll miss her show tonight at the Mink.

From there, is was back to the Mohawk to catch-up with my posse where I ran into asshole moment number one. Here is the set-up at the door. There is a silk rope splitting the door into an exit (left) and an entrance (right). If someone was exiting, returning, or asking a question to the doorman they would approach the left side of the rope and do what they needed to do without interfering with the line on the right. So here was a single line and I'm about 5 people from the front. I see Jana Hunter two people ahead of me which puts me in a happy mood and just get through saying hi when suddenly this old big fat greased-hair motherfucker barges through on the right and there are a bunch of other assholes trying to barge through as well. People are perturbed as the line has fallen into chaos and the doormen can't control the situation. Mind you, the club isn't that packed so there is no reason for these assholes barging-in. The bouncer is yelling at people to get in a single file and I turn to one staffer and say "What you need to do is get these guys under control." and I point to the dudes to my right. I then turn to one guy to my right and say "Dude look this isn't cool." to which he grabs some badge and says with utter arrogance and a sense of privilege, "I'm one of the promoters. I put this on." I was utterly shocked. The troublemakers are the promoters? What the fuck is that all about? I just look at him and all I can muster is a shocked and matter-of-fact "Well that doesn't give you the right to act like a dick." Eventually, I get in and all is well again - assholes be damned.

First up was
Minneapolis' Best Friends Forever who were awesome fun. Now I say that if and only if you think women singing clever twee pop songs are your bag. Me? Hey, if you have a catchy poppy garagey tune that lists off all 43 US presidents with dueling vocals where one sings/talks in a hurried pace over the other vocalists melodic vocals, I'm game. Call me a sucker for musical cuteness but John Sears would understand. By the way, when I say musically cute I mean no derision to the musicians - happy, clever, and charming is just cute is all I'm saying. Plus, they had a dude with a puppet guest on a song! How freaking cute is that? BFF was sweetness and we were totally down with that.

The evening closed with Matt and Kim
who kept up the happy vibe. To be sure it was a perfect way to close out my time at SXSW with pure happiness encapsulated in simple pop songs. Matt and Kim have to be the most nicest happy band ever. Every break between songs was just this gushing thrill of playing there. They even acknowledged the door issues and kindly apologized. At one point after a song ended, I turned to my friend and said "Oh man, I so hope he says something sweet, sincere, and happy!" To which, of course, he would say something unbelievably sweet, sincere and happy then proceed to rip into another keyboard and drum rave-up that would have the crowd up and jumping like fools. There is something improbably wrong about stage diving and crowd surfing to Matt and Kim yet somehow there is something horribly appropriate at the same time. I actually felt a tinge of sadness when they closed with Silver Tiles as it announced the end to a great weekend of music and friends. Sigh. All good things must come to an end.

Love and kisses to SXSW, the musicians, all my awesome friends, and Austin, TX
It all went by too fast.
I can't wait until 2009.

Jandek


Deer Tick

Christina Carter and Sean David McMillan

Hearts Of Animals

Best Friends Forever

Matt And Kim


Our SXSW 2008 Blogs:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3 (special poorly written raging hangover edition)
Day 4 (hungover but less so edition)

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