Some of you who know me well remember my annual sxsw recap blogs. It was usually a vague synopsis of drunken misadventures. Things that I would now consider somewhat embarrassing like the time I stabbed Bad Sean, or the time I yelled "Hey Frodo, give me a cigarette!" to Elijah Wood(he actually did). And let's not forget that time I punched a guy in the face during Dashboard Confessional. I decided a few months ago I wouldn't attend sxsw this year. I just felt burnt out on the whole novelty. Of course I couldn't stay away. This year was completely different. With the exception of nearly getting run over by a soccer mom in a Lexus suv, nothing outrageous occurred. It's amazing how much one can get done when you are not belligerent. And when did Joseph Gordon-Levitt become the new "former child actor turned indie darling?" At least it isn't a drug addiction. Sorry Frodo there's a new man child in town!
Here's a few highlights from my week:
Darker My Love
I'm not a big fan of the term psychedelic. To me it exudes elitist rock that only middle aged men appreciate. Yes, they do have a very 60s vibe, but it's a little edgy. They first caught my attention a while back as the new project of former members of the Nerve Agents. I also have a soft spot for anyone who names their band after one of the greatest TSOL songs. I saw them a few years ago at sxsw and they totally blew me away. When I saw them this year at Red Eyed Fly, they were even better than last time! I love this guy's voice, it's so captivating.
How did Minneapolis become a musical goldmine? This band draws many comparisons to The Replacements and I suppose that will happen with any band who shares the same area code as Paul Westerberg. If anything there may be a few similarities to Westerberg's country twang solo abums. As former members of Cadillac Blindside and The Crush it makes sense that they have "that Minneapolis sound." However, they're not really punk and they're not really country. Jason Miller has written some of the best lyrics I've ever heard. I got to see them play to a small crowd at Liberty and it was awesome.
I've been fortunate enough not only to meet Billy Bragg but to see him perform on several occasions. Each time is incredible and reminds me why I need to fight the good fight. His witty banter between songs is both endearing and motivating. How can he simultaneously write some of the greatest love songs AND inspiring political songs. His set at the Mess With Texas show was wonderful. He played to probably the most progressive collection of people in town that whole week.
What more can be said than IT'S CHEAP FUCKING TRICK!? They played a nice long set at Auditorium Shores. Not only did they throw out the hits, but also a touching tribute to Alex Chilton with "In the Street." The icing on the cake was when they came out for an encore and played my favorite tune "The Flame." It made my whole week!
Mariachi El Bronx
I got to hand it to The Bronx. For a bunch of white dudes who play mariachi music, they actually pull it off. I almost like this project better than the regular Bronx. Can someone enlighten me on the white dude's fascination with the hispanic culture? They're bewitched by our food, beer, music, and most of all women. Just curious not that there's anything wrong with that.
Here's some tips in case you want to ever attend sxsw:
1. Do NOT wear your badge at non badge functions. This is usually an unspoken rule, but this year I saw several offenders. Wearing your badge to non badge functions says two things about you. Number one- "I have money to throw around so PLEASE rob me." or number two- " I sort of work in the music industry but don't know anything about music, I just wanted to brag that I saw Muse for the 10th time." PS- Muse sucks.
2. Do NOT let people stay at your house for sxsw ever! I know this sounds really harsh since most of us have at least one friend in town visiting. Trust me on this one. It's hard enough to be responsible for yourself the whole week let alone someone who doesn't even know what time zone they're in. Things get really crazy and the last thing you need is to babysit. Someone is bound to ask you for a place to crash so just respectfully tell them there is no room at the inn.
3. Do NOT forget to tip! Yeah that Lone Star tall boy might be free but the guy serving it to you isn't hanging out for his health unless the bartender is Bill Murray. Yeah you don't live here but have some respect for the people who do. The bartenders work their ass off all week long and a buck here and there isn't gonna kill you.
I hope you guys had as much fun and maybe, just maybe I'll see you next year. I just wish I could have seen QT. PS-The steady diet of bar food did catch up with me in the end.