DAY TWO - SXSW 2011
Total Number of Bands Seen:
Nine, again. Shabazz Palaces, Veronica Falls, Unnatural Helpers, Yuck, Menomena, OFF!, Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit, Doomtree, and Gayngs.
Total Number of Tacos Consumed:
One. But it was at Guero's Taco Bar, so it was extra special. Also the trip across the river into the "better" section of Austin made me realize that I am a terrible tourist. This is my ninth SXSW and I rarely leave the vicinity of downtown. It would be like visiting Portland and just hanging outside Dixie Tavern and Dirty for five days straight.
Best show seen:
Honestly, nothing was incredible yesterday. Some very good performances from Shabazz Palaces, Veronica Falls, Unnatural Helpers, and Menomena, but nothing was revelatory. Shabazz was probably the best, but it was a show in the early afternoon located in a dirty field (thanks, Pitchfork), so the atmosphere wasn't right.
Notable Shows That I Was Unable to See:
Three. EMA, tUnE-YaRdS (twice!), and Lia Ices. Clearly my date with tUnE-YaRdS is not meant to be. That is SUCkS.
Aziz Ansari. Again. Stop stalking me, dude.
Every exhausting music festival needs an odd visit from your mother, who will take you out to lunch and then ask you why you haven't provided her with any grandkids yet. Following that, I hoofed it under the bridge to the Pitchfork-a-rama dirt lot jamboree, where Shabazz Palaces was illin' it (since there is a moratorium on the term "killing it"). Then it was back under the bridge for British tweemo™ (I'm trademarking that shit) act Veronica Falls, then under the bridge again (like trolls, or Anthony Kiedis) for Unnatural Helpers. The bassist from the Hardly Art band was explaining to us how they didn't care to see other bands, they were going swimming. Not a bad idea at all.
The new-look Menomena—where they lost a member and added a band (Dat'r)—was in classic form, which means a lengthy delay and then a blistering set. It was pretty impressive, especially considering they are now out half their catalog with the departure of Brent Knopf.
Watching the vintage hardcore supergroup OFF! made me realize how little punk shows I see here, and also how Mario Rubalcaba just might be the best drummer on this planet. Granted, I've been saying that since I first saw Clikatat Ikatowi in 1995. The night ended with a pretty subpar (at least to me) Gayngs performance. With more members onstage than a Wu Tang concert—coincidentally, one was happening just down the block—the slow jam supergroup of Bon Iver, Megafaun, and friends didn't really deliver, despite a Sade cover.
Actually, the real treat was walking about to the hotel at 2am and watching a drunk couple in Saint Patrick's Day garb attempting a piggy-back ride. It seemed like a bad idea from the start, and sure enough, just as the woman mounted his back, the poor frat boy was weighed down by green beer and he keeled over, thus projected her over his shoulders and face first into the unforgiving pavement. Other than some bruises and concrete burns, they seemed fine—I checked on them—but it was a telling way to end the night.