Having spent four days at the greatest music festival in the world (whose name doesn’t appear on my 1040), I couldn’t wait to add to the perpetual cyber-stream of “OMG! I was there!!!”s. Here’s my SXSW 2006 wrap-up in convenient bullet-point format. Hopefully this will prove easy-to-read, as opposed to bogging down my hypothetical readers with a murky wading pool of pithy zeitgeist
-surmising bullshittery and flighty internrrd-impressing prose. Except the last sentence. That stays.
The XX best things about SXSW XX!
I. Fuck By Fuck You
Hundreds of shows booked by SXSW’s crack staff, and the best spectacles are still the ones curated by badge-burning loose cannons and renegades. The eighth annual Fuck By Fuck You, hosted by chaos-corralling Austin party-monsters Gorch Fock
, was a backyard blowout fueled by local energy, local talent, local brewskis and a complete drought of industry douchebags honking coke off business cards. The Gorch Fock performance itself was a Buttholes-rivaling circus freakoff initiated by a demented B-52’s from Hell: double drumming, triple guitaring, strobes, smoke, and a high-flying trombonist performing stunts of derring-do and fuck-you.
Meanwhile, a two minute walk away, housed on the tiny porch of a Hispanic dive bar, NYC loft-dweller Todd P had booked over 50 of the most eclectic, intense and gripping underground and under-underground bands around. With a second stage on the back of a van called the Rambler, it was probably the most important show going on anywhere the zip code. Flying V-strapped retro-metallers Night After Night did skateboard tricks, Erase Errata made tap-bass cool, Drums And Tuba honk-honked to oblivion, DMBQ threw chunks of limestone at the house kit and the Bats were the fucking Bats!
It was insanity from all angles. “Every band wanted their own fucking perfect time. Unfortunately, good for them is perfect for a lot of other bands, “ says his P-ness. “Stage management for over 50 bands over a four-day festival was just hell... in the rain. But fortunately, all turned out rad.”
Celebration, Big Bear, zZz, Knife Skills, Kalas, Wooden Wand, the Double, Measles Mumps Rubella—next year just spend money on a plane ticket, and use the badge money for a Brontosaurus-worth of ribs at Iron Works.
Measles Mumps Rubella play a... um... porch song trilogy? ... I got nothing.II. P.O.S.
As recent as CMJ 2005, Minneapolis MC P.O.S.
(“It takes a Nation Of Ulysses to hold me back!”) was a hulking high hope greeted with an underwhelming response and a Craig Finn guest ramble. One record later, he is a screaming typhoon of pure bloodletting fury (performing at, appropriately enough, Emo’s) that connected with each and every high-fiver, screeching “Yeah, right!” as both an offensive measure and defense mechanism. Here’s my personal treaty to any blog-perusing hip-hop fans: Easy with the with coke-rap, bunky. You go to basement shows, listen to Song Of Zarathrustra, are awkward around girls, hate Bush and have trouble multi-tasking. Welcome back for the first time.
Once he gets a couple in him, Craig Finn can't shut up about Predator.III. Stepping it up
Who knew twangy Kansas City battle-rapper Mac Lethal
would grow into a fiery crowd-killer? And could get the most applause of any MC I saw all weekend by ending a freestyle with the Konami Code? Who knew a great-on-paper band like New Order/Naked City grind-wonks Genghis Tron
could grow beyond a novel gimmick into a heart-stopping Tubeway Terrorizer? Also, have you seen Man Man
Great Redneck Hope: Two out of three? Discuss.IV. Accidentally catching an Art Brut set while walking down the street towards an inferior show.
If they weren’t playing “Formed A Band” (and yelping “Art Brut!” like they were the Mike Jones fronting the Blues Explosion), I might’ve missed the pokey blokes. I especially enjoyed the revised bridge to “Emily Kane,” wherein lead Brut clarifies that he had, in fact, run into Emily seven months ago, and realized he wasn’t in love with Emily Kane, but “in love with being in love with Emily Kane... when I had no troubles... except homework.”V. Spank Rock
Winner for most blog-worthy lyric of the festival: “Shake it ‘til my dick turns racist!”VI. Text messaging
I don’t know how I watched bands, when was too busy poking around my phone, trying to figure out how to make a semicolon. Here’s some actual responses to a text sent by me that simply said: “Tell me something good”Moose:
I am hanging out with a friend I haven’t seen in 14 years. That’s good. No luck on the show front this hour.ChrisWhite:
Acoustic Drive X Truckers is the most punk Ive seen.James:
The plastic constellations just killed itAmyP:
Morrissey!VII. Realizing Brooklyn Vegan won’t be enjoying himself as much as me.
You could fill an ark with the amount of dead things I ate. The sampler platter at Iron Works was better than any sampler used on stage. The pulled pork sandwich at Stubb’s can be eaten in the time it takes to walk a city block if you’re dedicated enough. Two bratwursts quarrelling in the basement of your stomach, agitated by the bowel-bursting bass of grimer Sway is the best worst feeling in the world.VIII. Puerto Muerto
Desolate prairie funeral music as bleak as a shallow grave—performed by a scrawny ringer-teed guy and a high-soaring girl who both look like they could be Mad TV
Aw! They're so cute when they sing about the vultures picking at your bones!IX. Hipster-free hipster parties
If we caught that quasi-ironic-metal Sword/Saviours double bill in Brooklyn, it would have been an insufferable clusterfuck of ironic haircuts, ironic band T-shirts and un-ironic alcohol problems. But in the middle of this industry geekfest, it was like Kiss’s Revenge
meets Revenge Of The Nerds
. Sadly, the frail, brittle frames of hipsters and geeks makes them both pretty poor candidates for moshing. I was totally king of the pit for the three seconds it existed.X. The AnnualsThese guys
are so new to Ace Fu, you can still see their ass-prints on Eric Speck’s couch, these feral popsters are like Jane’s Addiction meets Extreme Sufjan. Plus they’re like 19 or something and paint their faces. Kind of krauty in that Secret Machines way, but not ruined by Alan Moulder production. Yet.
The mascot for the Ace Fu Underdogs!XI. Badges
Seriously, why can’t people wear nametags all the time?XII. The super-cute gals handing out hangover juice on Red River St.
Enough to contemplate alcohol abuse.XIII. Having lunch with a bunch of bloggers
No need to remember what you said, since it’ll all end up on the internets
anyway.XIV. BelongOne big fuzzy note
to wear like a blanket.
Belong can play soul-wrecking ambient fuzz, make bunny shadow puppets.XVII. Putting faces to names
It was great meeting all the writers, editors, publicists and label-owners that I talk to every day. Can’t wait to experience the morbid embarrassment when I forget who you all are by CMJ in September.
Daedalus. I just thought this picture was nice.XV. Mogwai’s light show
More fun than looking at a bunch of really serious-looking Scottish guys.
Mogwai was so loud and awesome that I lost the ability to see reds and yellows.XV. TTCLe crunk. Freedom rappers, TTCXVIII. Meeting Pitchfork's Ryan Schrieber.
Ten years in and still less jaded than you.XIX. Weird WeedsDouble true.
Weird Weeds: was "Wacky Tobaccy" taken?XX. Our friend having food poisoning and violently puking all over the yard repeatedly in the middle of the night, and making such inhuman noises in the process that our other friend thought he was having sex with someone.
Too bad I missed Whitehouse.