DAY THREE - SXSW 2011
Total Number of Bands Seen:
13! EMA, Herman Dune, Wye Oak, Ted Leo, Sharon Van Etten, Dee-1, Dolorean, the Obits, Puro Instinct, Papercuts, Esben And the Witch, the Head and the Heart, La Sera. (I also caught a comedy set from Chelsea Peretti. Comedians are not bands, but she was damn funny.)
Total Number of Tacos Consumed:
Three. Including one with nopalitos from the delicious A Million to Juan, a restaurant I only assume is named in honor of the Paul Rodriguez film.
Best show seen:
Esben And the Witch, hands down. More on them in a second, but a close second goes to EMA (although not everyone in my party agrees) and Wye Oak gets the bronze.
Notable Shows That I Was Unable to See:
A few, like always. tUnE-YaRdS' set time conflicted with my nAp-TImE, and the early Head and the Heart show had a line that snaked down the block, around the corner, across the river, into South America, and finally stopping at the South Pole. There were penguins at the end of that line. Thankfully I caught the band at their 1am set. I also wanted to catch OMD, but (OMG!) maybe it's a good idea I missed them.
The guy with the prison tattoos of guns on both of his hands. He might not be famous yet, but dude is about to kill someone. Maybe a famous person. He totally counts. (Plus I am not going to tell him otherwise).
After our local taco sherpa guided us to a delicious taco breakfast (best three words ever) away from the lechery of downtown Austin, we headed to see the spectacular EMA play to a dirty lot. Wow, just look at that robust crowd. Following that, we witnessed a jaunty (Motherfucking jaunty!) set from France's Herman Dune—whose frontman, David-Ivar, looks more and more like Raffi everyday—and then an excellent performance from Wye Oak. Alarmingly simple, the co-ed Baltimore duo finds a way to perfect every single note of their simple-on-the-outside, complex-on-the-inside (just like a Tootsie Pop), rock and roll songs.
As for the finest moment of the night, that honor goes to Esben And the Witch. They were our fourth option, but we just wanted to flee the Puro Instinct show (more specifically we wanted to get away from its terrible venue, Klub Krucial), and Esben And the Witch seemed like a better idea than catching Puddle of Mudd. The British act—which recently signed to Matador—resembled a trio of moody art school dropouts gone astray and their sound was pure Rid of Me-era P.J. Harvey, crossed with the energy (but not the optimism or hope) of the Arcade Fire. WIth no proper drummer, they shared a bare bones communal drum kit, and walloped those poor drums into submission. It ended with a member barreling into the captivated audience, pounding a floor tom, and then hurling the sticks at singer Rachel Davies. The band will be at Mississippi Studios on March 24th and you should definitely go, since it doesn't seem like many people know about Esben And the Witch. Yet.
Oh, and I lost a bunch of wadded-up cash to a few Sub Pop employees while playing dice in the back of their showcase.
I'm not sure why—The moon? Japanese nuclear meltdown? The fact that Texas is just plain evil?—but there was something sinister about Friday. Ryan Biornstad of Starfucker was tossed in the pokey for "doing nothing" (also, it must take a lot to get arrested in this town—it's pure chaos on the streets), a member of Unknown Mortal Orchestra had their guitar stolen, and I witnessed more drunken debauchery than I have ever seen on the sad streets of Austin. It was like Caligula with Jägerbombs out there.
Us SXSW'ers tend to forget that this is their town, not ours. The Jersey Shore-esque (Colorado River Shore?) contingent runs this city, and while "we" might take over for a few days with our quaint little rock and roll concerts, this is still a downtown scene dominated by clubs like the Chuggin' Monkey and the Dirty Dog. Like every year amidst the drunken/staggering madness of 6th St. there is a born again preacher with a megaphone (Yet this year he was missing his aborted baby posters, someone really needs to pick up his game. Kinkos can help with that, buddy.) informing us all that we are heathens on the fiery path to the devil's playground.
Last night, the preacher man was kind of right.