It’s been a busy almost-three weeks. Eric & I went as far south as we’ve ever played a Pocket Vinyl show, got dreadfully sick, played the first show where we literally didn’t make a cent, and witnessed a couple wonderful friends get married, among tons of other things. Plus, I’ve been focusing mainly on a specific theme in my paintings.
First, South by Southwest. It was an experience, and I’m glad we’ve got it tucked under our belts. I guess I feel that if you’re going to be a band, at one point or another you’ve got to make the pilgrimage down to Austin, Texas and play some SXSW showcases. Hm… I was going to summarize our entire time there in a single post, but I think it’ll be alright to stretch it out some.
First off, after leaving Dallas on Monday, March 11, we took a slight detour down to College Station, the location of Texas A & M and my friend Ellen. We’d gone to Peru together back in 2007 and literally hadn’t seen each other until meeting up here in Texas! It was so awesome laughing with her. She’s hilarious and so much fun to laugh with. And, she made my new favorite food for dinner. And, her house mate has a cat that looks just like our old cat Sister!
We left early Tuesday Morning, the 12th, and headed straight towards 6th Street in Austin, where the majority of the SXSW festival happens (though in reality, it seems to encompass the entire city). During our show in Dallas, one of the other performers, a guy named Luke Wade, had mentioned he wasn’t going to SXSW this year, and he made a few off-hand comments about the festival as a whole that I’d dismissed at the time, but probably should’ve paid more attention to (Red Flag #1). He also mentioned that parking at SXSW is a nightmare, really expensive, and you’ll find yourselves lugging tons of gear for blocks (Red Flag #2).
We didn’t have our first show until Wednesday, March 13th, so we decided to come into Austin early on Tuesday, catch the free secret house show Tegan & Sara had tweeted about, and scope out the venues we’d be performing at along with ideal parking areas.
We arrived so early that we found easy free parking right on 6th Street between a couple RVs packed with slumbering band members. After some wandering we found the lineup for the Tegan & Sara show around 10:30 am and quickly became friends with the dozen or so small enthusiastic girls in line. (Eric was literally the only guy we encountered.)
The time we were suppose to be allowed in to the house party got pushed further and further back and thus began the start of my March sunburn. Over the next hot and scorching hours we all discovered that the advertised house party had mainly been replaced by T-Mobil and other big businesses constantly trying to make us give them our money. Consumerism was stomping all over the fact that we were there to see a music performance (Red Flag #3).
Finally around 3:00 we were allowed into the backyard of this house and were grateful for our patience, getting front row to see Tegan & Sara perform a handful of songs off their new album:
Before starting the show they mentioned how they’d first played SXSW some 13 or so years ago, when they were first getting started, and that it was the worst show they’d ever had… Huh. (Red Flag #4)
After they played Eric & I left and wandered along 6th Street some more. We stopped in to catch a song or two from a band or two, and to watch a street performer here and there (guy in the photo is too busy on his phone to pay attention to the one-man street performer… Red Flag #5). We quickly realized that because so much is going on all around you at SXSW, it is practically impossible to give anything your full attention, and even we floated around, half listening bands and wondering what the next loud sound coming out of the venue next door had to offer. It was a horrible ADD-like feeling. (Red Flag #6. A big one.)
We tasted many different Texas hot sauces, found a parking lot near the center of everything for the low low price of $20 for 8 hours, ran into Bob Boilen from NPR’s All Songs Considered (who was very encouraging and asked for our card). And finally, we scouted out the venues we were performing at and found that at Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar, where we were scheduled to do two shows, we were going to be performing out on the back porch instead of inside on the stage, and scrawled into the wood of the porch a previous band had written “Your sound system sucks!!!!” (Red Flag #7.)
Exhausted from the sun and the miles we’d walked, we left SXSW in the evening and found rest in a Wal-Mart parking lot. My one regret from the day was that we missed the free Macklemore and Tegan & Sara show that took place that night (apparently Macklemore worse a fur coat he’d gotten at a local Austin thrift shop and swung over the crowd on the light fixtures as if they were monkey bars. Ha).
Overall though, we’d had a nice first day of SXSW and were happy that we had low expectations for Wednesday.