If hipsters were hamsters, they might spend SXSW at Spiderhouse. Once a small cafe on the north side of town, Spiderhouse sported SEVEN stages this year. Hip hamsters arrived at noon and partied until 2am. With twitchy whiskers they could snake through a maze of bands both well-known and completely unheard of. There were water bottles to suck on hanging from the walls and the feed station was dishing up some very decent tacos. Foodie type hamsters could run next door for serious BBQ at Ruby’s.

The And So… Party on Friday had 44 bands including impressive works by Mikal Cronin (with Ty Segal, Emily Rose Epstein and Tim Hellman), Mexico’s sweaty-shirtless Los Headaches and Austin’s Strange Boys (who also played amazing sets at Trailer Space Records and completed my weekend with a 1am show at Mohawk). Strange Boys will be at SF’s Burger Boogaloo this Sunday (not to be missed) at THEE PARKSIDE! Extra special hamster treats are due to Portlandia’s Guantanamo Baywatch (also playing Burger Boogaloo but Saturday). If you like hard rockin’ surf tunes, do proceed to the exercise wheel. Still thirsty? Pass through a tube like corridor, turn left and enjoy a full bar of crazy good micro brews on tap. Yes, of course they have Lone Star and Shiner Bock. (note: the only place these 2 beers are not available in Texas would be the Hype Hotel where they served Miller Lite and inedible Taco Bell tacos. WTF! Despite a painful hour delay Jimmy Cliff did make up for it.)

Saturday’s Burgermania had 70 bands at Spiderhouse. Outside Oakland’s own Gravy’s Drop started it all off at 1pm (also plays Boogaloo this Saturday). Inside Los Headaches were admittedly tired but still shirtless, sweaty and singing about masturbation. Pleasant surprises included The Shivas (yet another great band from Portland) and Denver’s Lust Cats of the Gutters.

This hamster needed a serious Spiderhouse break before I gnawed off my fucking paw. Fortunately SXSW continues to provide many escapes to recharge the fragile hip hamster mind. ‘Baby Blue Studios’ turned out to be a trashy backyard but it was a perfect escape just minutes away. There was a cooler full of Lone Star and Vancouver’s Shimmering Stars delivered a dreamy Beach Boys-y set despite the taped-together microphone.

Japan’s Toquiwa (ex-Pinky Piglets) played the Grackle, another pleasant off-the-beaten-path venue (they play the Independent April 1st). 2 blocks away Austin’s Gashcat seem to be reinventing the lost art of Neutral Milk Hotel.

Comfy seats in beautiful surroundings were available for a spine tingling Big Star 3rd tribute at the Paramount with M. Ward, Peter Buck, Chris Stamey, Tommy Stinson, Peter Case and more. M. Ward must be partial to such venues as he was also found at the holy Central Presbyterian Church. Of course, sitting on concrete was just fine for the incredible reunion of Texas Tornados with Auggie Meyers, Flaco Jimenez, Shawn Sahm (Doug’s son) and Speedy Sparks on bass!! This took place at the brand new Texas State History Museum. Nicest bathrooms SXSW 2012. The band will be touring but so far dates are only listed for Leytonville and Modesto 6/29-30. To let you in on my disorientation, let’s end at the beginning where it all started for this lil’ hamster: standing in the bushes with Alejandro Escovedo at Lucy’s Fried Chicken. See you next year Austin! Must rest now…Burger Boogaloo cometh. G’nite.

Fungi Girls – please note Hunx pin (Hunx and his Punx play Burger pre-party on Wednesday)

King Tuff plays Burger this Friday!

James Hand at BEST VENUE – the MOOSE LODGE!

Thee Oh Sees also playing Burger Boogaloo on Saturday!!

London’s Chapter 24 play Oakland’s Uptown 3/27 and SF’s Hemlock 3/28