NYC’s Habibi, just before their eighth South by Southwest set, 3/15, 1230am, Burgermania III, Volstead Lounge. Undoubtedly the find of the year. Their cover of “Green Fuzz” was itself worth the $225 PER NITE room at the sleazy Super 8. Overwhelmingly cute, but sO muCH mORE!
I’ve lost count, but this is approximately my twentieth year at SXSW. The fest has become a nightmare in so many ways. Prices for hotels have skyrocketed (if you can find a room at all). The center of town is so congested and freakish, it is mostly best avoided. There are long lines, messed up schedules, cancellations, and this year a car plowed into a crowd in front of the Mohawk, killing 3 and injuring 20 more. Despite it all, I will undoubtedly return next year and the next, and here are 28 reasons. Put that fucking cell phone down, and grab a cold one.
Austin’s incredible Dikes of Holland, 3/15, 1015pm Burgermania III, Volstead Lounge. Neck and neck with Coathangers for top live show.
Burger Records (of Fullerton, CA) is rapidly changing the music industry. Their dedication to support and promote music, one $5 cassette at a time, is catching on in a big way. Their parties at SXSW are an insane mess of a good time. This year their biggest fest was held at Hotel Vegas/Volstead Lounge with two alternating outdoor stages and two indoor stages. You could take your pick of three bands playing at a time without leaving the premises. Since a lot of these bands are touring together, the scene was festive with wasted rockers everywhere, and the bacon cheese burgers were delicious. Burger Records (with a great deal of help from Oakland’s Total Trash Productions) will bring the Burger Boogaloo to Mosswood Park in Oakland July 5-6! Get your tickets now!!
Atlanta’s untouchable Coathangers, 3/12, 615pm, Gypsy Lounge. These ladies are simply not fucking around. Now sporting matching shirts and jackets! Catch them Monday, 3/24, at the Great American Music Hall with the Black Lips. Or if you are really smart you will see them Sunday, 3/23, in Felton at Don Quixote’s!!
With all the time I waste planning my weekend, SXSW never fails to offer up lots of surprises. Berkeley’s very own Gravys Drop is sporting a whole new configuration with none other than the great Klaus Flouride (of Dead Kennedys infamy) on the six-string bass. Gravys Drop mastermind, Billy Grave moves to drums and Chuckleberry Jay plays insane guitar. Hotel Vegas Patio, 3/12, 645pm. Check ’em out 3/27 at the Hemlock!
Boston’s Mutual Benefit make beautiful sounds and brought multiple violinists. Unfortunately the Hype Hotel sucks, 3/12, 11pm.
Cate Le Bon is Welsh, but currently in LA, where she recorded her brand new Mug Museum. “I Think I Knew” is surely the best song of the year. Here at Red 7, 3/13 1245pm. The very next day I would stumble upon her at Waterloo Records, where I had just purchased her CDs. Apparently she had just played and was signing autographs! And I still had plenty of time to catch…
…Detroit’s Protomartyr! Finding that perfect balance of intensity and couldn’t give a shit. Waterloo Records, 3/15, 3pm. Fans of GBV should enjoy.
Boston’s Quilt, very trippy, cultish even, the guitar at times resembling a sitar. Hotel Vegas Patio 3/13, 330pm.
London’s Fat White Family with their signature jiz eating move. Hotel Vegas Patio 3/13, 4pm. Clearly the wildest lunatics of the weekend. I imagine them chained together by a lion tamer, and moved venue to venue in a cage–toothless, filthy, fantastic.
Sean Lennon with GOASTT (Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger), Hotel Vegas Patio 3/13, 5pm. Not knowing what to expect and surprised to find moments reminiscent of Meat Puppets.
My sweet bbs! Portland’s Guantanamo Baywatch after their fiery set at the Gypsy Lounge, 3/13, 520pm. Love them at the Knockout on Monday, 3/24. Be on the lookout for Jason’s new guitar he is building from scccrrraattcchhh!
#1 best surprise of the weekend! Cassie Ramone at Gypsy Lounge, 3/13, 555pm. Although it looks like Vivian Girls and Babies are kaput, Cassie promises (and delivers) new brilliant material, plus a sweet cover of the Bobby Freeman/Ramones classic “Do You Wanna Dance?”
Pioneers of the 1978 Austin scene, there was only ONE SXSW show from The Skunks, Lit Lounge, 3/13, 8pm. Nice cover of The Stooges’ “Search and Destroy.”
First show outta Norway, Alexander Von Mehren, Cheer Up Charlies, 3/13, 1015pm. For fans of Soft Machine, Stereolab and High Llamas!
Eagulls hail from Leeds and provoked the first serious stage diving of the weekend at Buffalo Billiards, 3/13, 1am. They play Bottom of the Hill on May 31st.
This picture may be worth 1000 words. Mexico City’s Los Rebel Cats killed it at the Palm Door Patio 3/13, 130am. Wild rockabilly en espanol! Great covers of Elvis, Buddy Holly and more.
Unfortunately, Pangea are now called together PANGEA. Fortunately, they still kick ass. Red 7, 3/14, 130pm
New friends Detroit’s Tyvek filled in for the Coathangers who chickened outta their 420 slot at the Legendary White Swan on 3/14. My friend also chickened out. Something about a crack whore pissing on the sidewalk out front? Too bad, this show was…what do the kids call it?…epic! Tyvek were great, and the Dikes of Holland smashed a beer bottle at my feet! That just doesn’t happen enough. Out back they were cooking up some seriously tasty pork, inside they had the most delicious Porter.
Threadgills 3/14, 615pm, for his annual Ice Cream Social, Roky Erickson put on the best show I’ve ever seen him do. The perfect set was unusually heavy on the 13th Floor Elevators material, including “Fire Engine” and “Reverberation” from the first record, Psychedelic Sounds of.., plus “She Lives (In a Time of Her Own)”, “Slip Inside This House” and “I’ve Got Levitation” from Easter Everywhere!!!!
Floating down South Congress in my overpriced rental car, I was giddy as a schoolgirl. From Roky direct to Howe Gelb at the Continental Club, 8pm. Howe charmed the audience with his hysterical, schizoid musings. Despite all the small talk, he played a beautiful set, moving between four instruments including an acoustic guitar, a piano draped in a Mexican blanket, and a small steel guitar made out of a counter top. He closed the set with a waltz. Last year, Howe played his set live on screen via Skype. He promised to buy margaritas for anyone that was disappointed about it. A true “only at SXSW” moment, I ran into Howe and his band walking home along I-35 at 230 in the morning. We walked a good mile together. He let me off the hook driving him home in my Shiner Bocked state and I let him off the hook on the margaritas…
I was underwhelmed with the brief listen I gave The Entrance Band prior to SXSW and hadn’t intended to see them at all. In the end, I saw them three times–all great shows, with lots of amp climbing/jumping. Here at Hotel Vegas, 3/14, 9pm. They play New Parish this Monday 3/24!
Next door, and out back at the Gypsy Lounge, NY’s Pampers started their 930pm set with a missing bass string and ended their set stomping on a keyboard. Good sweaty fun! Inside you could get a free tattoo from Sailor Jerry, but you had to spin a wheel to determine your fate. The anchor looked pretty cool, the beer glass not so much…
Memphis’ Ex Cult had the most adventurous guitarist of the weekend (best chops too!), seen here walking on the bar at the Volstead Lounge, 3/14, 10pm. I am pretty sure he spit in the water container at the end of the bar. The beautiful bartender was very understanding and served me up all the water I could drink. I must have tipped her well, American Express fraud department called today about the multiple charges that evening…
Minneapolis’ Blind Shake simply never disappoint. Fast, furious, and entirely bald! Volstead Lounge, 3/14, 120am
I heart Juan Wauters. I’ve been obsessed with The Beets for several years, and now a solo album to enjoy!!! Quirky, smart, fun and from Queens! He also inspired me to trek up to the fantabulous Spiderhouse for the first time all weekend. Oh how I missed thee house of spiders! Great beers on tap, sweet patio and three stages of excellent bands! Don’t miss him when he plays the Burger Boogaloo on July 6th!!!!
Will Sprott turned me on to Seattle’s La Luz, and I owe him big. These ladies simply kicked ass all over town and when they got on stage the clouds parted. Catchy tunes, amazing surf guitar and perfect psychedelic keyboard fills. This show was at Spiderhouse on 3/14, but I also returned to The Volstead to see them for the big finale Saturday night at 1am. The bathroom sported more cocaine than your average Colombian longshoreman. The sound guy was completely fucked from 11pm on but the band plowed through, delivering the goods. After the show the sound guy came on stage screaming at my heroines! In a delirious haze of sleepless Shiner Brain, I leapt on stage to help fight him off, and miraculously we all escaped unharmed.
But it’s not over yet! Sunday is Beerland time! The annual hangover party. Here with Cincinnati’s Tweens. Fun garage rock. “Don’t Wait Up,” from their upcoming debut album is an instant classic.
And right around the corner, free chili dogs with Jerry DiCicca of the Black Swans at the Side Bar!
One more shot of The Entrance Band, Spiderhouse