Thursday, March 20, 2008

SXSW Journal - Saturday

Frankel - The First of Three with the Bow
Waking up on Saturday wasn’t much fun. As I mentioned, I was staying at my friend Mike’s loft in East Austin. Mike woke up bright and early because he had a plane to catch to India for a two week vacation. I thought about trying to stay in bed, but it was just too difficult with him getting organized and finishing packing. Cottonmouth and nauseous stomach. We walked over to a coffee shop to get a breakfast burrito, but that did not do the trick. Something about eggs and a hangover have never worked for me.

After dropping Mike off at the airport, I cruised over to the Hot Freaks party at the Mohawk. Bad Veins was on outside and they seemed pretty good, but my head was swimming. I stumbled inside and found a stool to wait it out for Frankel. Michael Orendy (aka Frankel) put out one of my favorite local releases last year. Quality songwriting in the vein of Richard Swift. He started out with a Nick Drake cover and played his guitar with a bow (one of three artists I would see do that on Saturday). I really enjoy his songs. I was finally starting to fell human again, so I went upstairs and grabbed a bloody mary in preparation for Le Switch.

While I was upstairs getting my bloody mary, I peaked down and watched a few of the Whigs’ songs. Impressive. I’ve always had a feeling I’d like those guys, but that was my first exposure to them. Pitchfork called them “latter day Local H, redux.” I’m not sure who Local H is, but I’m guessing it’s not a compliment. They play good time, unpretentious rock ‘n’ roll, something there’s really not enough of these days.

I’ve probably written about Le Switch as much as any other band. It’s just impossible for me to not have a good time when I see that group of people playing music together. I’m trying to save all my good nuggets for their press release, so I’m not going to say much more right now. But I looked around the room and saw a lot of smiles while they were playing. Their debut full length is coming out in May and I think a lot of you are going to dig it. They’ve already lined up a great supporting cast of bands for their May residency at the Echo.

After Le Switch finished, I went back upstairs for another bloody mary and some tacos. Finally getting back to normal. Film School was playing outside and Dave Dupuis was the guitar player of the day to use a bow. Film School’s officially an LA band these days and they’re a nice addition to the scene. They’re heading out on the road for a couple of weeks with British Sea Power. While I was standing around upstairs I met one of my favorite bloggers, Largehearted Boy and Rachel the publicist from KCRW. Both really nice people.

Up next was A Place to Bury Strangers. I saw them recently at the Viper Room and it’s music that belongs in a dark club, not a 90 degree day in Austin. They were loud as hell. I wish they’d concentrate more on writing songs. Weiss and I walked over to Club Deville to see what was going on over there. I think Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal was up strumming on an acoustic guitar. Whatever it was it was not interesting, and I decided I’d rather be watching college basketball.

Fleet Foxes

I caught about 10 minutes of the KU game and then made my way to the SXSeattle party at the Palm Door. I’ve been digging that Fleet Foxes EP from Sub Pop, so I was curious to see if they could pull off those harmonies. They can. Their set was probably my highlight of the festival. Very pretty three and four part harmonies, and the schoolhouse vibe of the venue worked really well for their sound. They never really rock out, but it’s really pleasant to just kick back and listen to on a Saturday afternoon. Their guitar player was the third of the day to use the bow. If you’re into Everest and that newest Wilco record, you should give these guys some time.

Mr. Free and his strap-on
I made my way towards Waterloo Park for the Mess with Texas party that Sean Carlson helped curate. Guy’s only like 22 and was quoted in the Wall Street Journal (alongside Franki Chan). Long Beach’s Crystal Antlers were on stage. I think I’d like them at the right time and place, but they harshed my mellow a bit. Ran into Jax, who told me they only found out they had the gig 10 minutes before hitting stage. I think they won over some new fans. Up next was some guy with a giant embroidered strap on over his junk. Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout are totally filthy. I wasn’t that into it, but Mr. Free clearly understands showmanship.

I had originally ventured over to see some Black Mountain’s set. After Mr. Free’s mic was shut off, Black Mountain decided to do a thirty minute sound check. As each minute passed, my enthusiasm waned. I watched a few songs, but ultimately decided that I appreciate them more in theory than reality. They’ve got some nice moments, but that is all. I headed off to pick up my friend Jerry who was hanging out at Waterloo Records.

Rudy's Barbeque
Jerry, Kenley and I headed over for night two (for me anyway) at Rudy’s Barbeque. I ordered the exact same thing – St. Louis ribs, a ½ link of sausage and beans. It might be the first time I’ve ever gone to a restaurant and ordered the exact same thing two days in a row. Although this time I had a Big Red instead of a Shiner Bock.

I figured I’d make it an early night, but decided I’d try to get into the Okkervil River / Roky Erickson show at Stubb’s. Turns out it was no problem. Okkervil River proved their set at Yard Dog was no fluke with another high energy show. Once again I only caught the last five or so songs, and it left me wanting more. I still can’t believe their last album didn’t do a lot better. I’d say they’re one big TV or film licensing deal away from being a household name. Beatle Bob popped on stage to introduce Roky Erickson. I’ve been a casual 13th Floor Elevators fan ever since the Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye tribute album came out in 1990. After seeing the Erickson documentary, I was very impressed with how good he sounded. It’s a totally professional band that he keeps up with. My attention waned a little in the middle, but after the band finished with “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” I walked out with a big ol’ smile on my face.

The smile was quickly erased when I stumbled down to 6th Street. The combination of 6th Street on a weekend and SXSW harshed my mellow in a big way. Why don’t they build some of those giant condo complexes on 6th Street?

SXSW was over for me.

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