On Wednesday morning, March 13th, we woke up in a Walmart parking lot in the company of a couple other RVs, buses, and vans. We’ve never encountered such sleeping-in-the-car touring band community before. Most of the day we avoided the chaos of the festival. I picked up a handful of summer clothes at a thrift shop (poppin’ tags) because all the clothes I’d brought on this tour were wintery and warm, and at this time of the year Austin meant very cold nights and high-80’s days (really, perfect if you have to sleep in your car!). Of course this also meant a lot of girls all over 6th street in beach-wear during the day, shivering as the sun went down.
Our first SXSW showcase took place Wednesday evening, quite a distance away from 6th Street at this neat tiny health food store/deli called in.gredients. Bands were performing all afternoon and into the evening at the corner of the spice aisle and the refrigerated case of organic local vegetables. There wasn’t much room for an audience, so after arriving early and scoping the place out, Eric & I settled into rocking chairs on the front porch with some local Austin beers. The porch looked into the big front window where we could watch the bands and listen through the speakers pumping the music out into the courtyard/vegetable garden. Even though there wasn’t much space to actually watch the bands perform in the store, they were video recording everyone’s performance to put up on their youTube channel. (Only a couple were up last time I checked, and I even think they might’ve run into some technical difficulties while we performed, but it’s worth taking a look to see how the space was set up.) We both really just enjoyed the chill atmosphere of the entire thing.
We actually performed last for the evening, and the shop itself purchased the owl-headed girl.
Around 10 or 11, after packing up, we decided to head down to 6th Street just to wander. We found free parking on 13th street so we had quite a hike to the main part of the festival. It was completely chaotic. Every genre of music you can imagine was blaring out of every possible open door and window along 6th Street. We listened to a Tegan & Sara show coming from some rooftop above us. The amount of people in the crowds was completely staggering. And the percentage of these people that were drunk and yelling was a little terrifying. (Red Flag #8…) Serious chaos.
We met up with the guys from SCM Electrix (we’d first met them at the first house show in Little Rock a week earlier, they were on tour with the Gnarly Charlies). They weren’t too interested in staying up super late again, and offered us a shower over at their RV campsite, a few miles up the highway. At the campsite they gave us the code to get into the shower and also offered to let us stretch out in their van. They had a tiny cabin so the van was empty, and it was a lot less cramped than sleeping in our own car again! So, that was the first time we spent the night in a stranger’s car. SXSW day two was over, and we were looking forward to two more showcases on Thursday.