SXSW Day 2: Checkmate

Categorised as FEATURES., MUSIC.

I say checkmate because I am doing a very bad job of evading disaster. Less evading, more impending. Right now it is the beginning of day three and I wouldn’t  be surprised if day three was my last day ever. That whiskey and water thing isn’t even working. The vitamins in all the tequila sunrises aren’t providing me with the life affirming vitalite boost I thought they would. Overall I expected so much more, largely from myself. 

Right now I am looking longingly out of my window and considering evacuation from the hotel room to the pool, but that seems to be an impossibility until I can completely piece together last night for your consideration. Last night started at about 12 in the afternoon once I’d got into Austin. I had a sandwich, it was called an Italian Nightclub. And then I met the future president of the Unites States of ‘Merica, Vermin Supreme. If you don’t know Vermin Supreme you need to get to know him; he’s more or less the biggest troll on the planet, raising awareness of the zombie apocalypse and promises every American a pony if elected president. Regarded as a fringe candidate, on a more serious note he suggests that he would make kidney transportation compulsory after donating his own kidney to his mother in 2006 and is on a one man fight against gingivitis, with his aim to pass a law making it compulsory to brush your teeth. Watch this; be in awe. If you are American, Vermin Supreme is who you are voting for.

Band-wise, shit got real today. After sandwiching about and a handful of tequila sunrises I went to watch some bands, like actually watching bands that I like, rather than wandering in and out of venues, hoping for the best.

The first thing I did was go and see Zambri at the Under the Radar showcase. I actually thought they were a completely different band but was very pleasantly surprised because their brand of soaring drum saturated experimental pop was truly sublime. The Brooklyn sisters are generating huge hype at the moment and it’s not unfounded. As the room got progressively fuller their set really started to come into its own, as the band kept full control of the afternoon crowd with a mixture of intense vocal work and repetitive tribal drums.

After Zambri things get pretty confusing, if you know what you are doing there are a lot of free drinks to be drank at SXSW and I’m pretty certain that I drank most of them. I definitely saw some bands but I’m loath to remember what ones, when and where. Things only really come together at about dinner time when we started on the neon blue tequila slush puppy things. For some reason that was a moment of clarity.

So, excusing the best part of four hours and an inability to get in to the Chairlift show things got back on track at about 7pm when I headed down to the Belmont to watch Cold Showers. Remember Cold Showers? They were one of my tips for SXSW. Unfortunately I neglected to do my homework though, because it turned out that their Thursday showcase was in fact a support slot for the Jesus and Mary Chain, aka slim to fuck all chance of getting anywhere near the door. It’s okay though, because once I knew where the Jesus and Mary Chain were playing I was able to send this demented religious fuck down to the venue and offer the huge queue salvation for their folly.

I managed to miss at least a couple of other bands after missing Cold Showers. For whatever reason I had got it in to my head that Funerals were playing at a place that was a Mexican showcase, when in fact they were playing at some backwater unofficial party in the sticks with a PA made out of glass (that’s bad). After that I managed to walk in to the very last note of the Hooded Fang show at the Lexington showcase, suffice to say it was one of the best notes of the night.

A band I did thankfully manage to see was Suckers, whose album Wild Smile has been a favourite of mine for the last couple of years. I don’t really know what to say about Suckers; they make the sort of indie that is intelligently catchy without ever really becoming annoying because of how much depth it has. They aren’t an easy one to categorise but I seriously recommend them to you if you like good music.

After that I got my jog on and hotfooted it a few blocks down the street to catch Hooray for Earth. When I got there the band were dealing with a blown up PA, which I was assured is the sort of thing they are always prepared for. And they really were, they went on twenty minutes later than what they were billed and sounded incredible. HFE are a band that I have been dying to see for the last year and it was worth the wait. It’s been so long since I’ve had that level of expectation, fallen in love with a band and then seen them live way down the track. It might be the hangover and it might have been because I had been drinking all day, but watching HFE was honestly one of the most life affirming things I have ever seen. It was like running a gauntlet of emotion for thirty minute spiritual exercice.

I was done by this point, my day was complete. And then I more or less saw Mclusky. At least that is what a guy at the bar was saying to me, “this is the closest we will ever come to seeing Mclusky.” I didn’t want to ruin the moment, but I have seen them before. And Future of the Left are definitely a lot better than Mclusky ever were. Not in a harsh way, that is just how good FOTL are. So good. So noisy. Just release.

That was the end of day two. I massively fucked it up and will be making amends tomorrow (again).

Words/pictures:

Marcus Harris

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