Two days after returning from Austin, my feet, back, ears, lungs, and liver have finally stopped throbbing in pain, but the memories--most of them great--will last a lifetime. Here are a few I didn't get to share while I was there.
Bands I Regret Missing: Delta Spirit, Awkquarius, Peelander-Z and Wavves (even though a friend texted me to report the band's set was "Bo-ring"). But most of all, Late of the Pier, whose crazy-ass CD I wrote about here and whose crazy-ass live show Pete wrote about here. In fact, I left Devo a bit early to catch Late of the Pier's 1 a.m. set at Aces Lounge Friday night, only to find a handwritten note explaining it was canceled "due to technical issues." But when life gives you lemons you paint that shit gold, so I headed to Emo's Main Room for King Khan and the Shrines. Which brings me to my next memory...
King Khan and the Shrines are amazing. Khan's stripped-down duo, King Khan and BBQ Show, was really fun in its own right. The full experience, though--with a fabulous horn section and flapper/cheerleader dancer--was astounding, even though I only caught the last few songs. For the last song, the punk/soul-brother invited about 20 people on stage for a riotous version of "You Got To Live Before You Die" that ended with his horn players wandering through the club in a free-jazz freakout while random people--some may have actually been in the band--started an impromptu drum jam.
Bands I hadn't planned to catch but ended up liking: Devo, Lucero, Those Darlins, Thera Malos, Past Lives
Bands I saw, and about which I don't get just what is the big freaking deal: Bishop Allen, Beach House, Thermals.
Worst accessory combination: Black leather vest, gold chain, eyebrow ring, silver hair and bald spot on a 60-something rocker.
Weirdest coincidence: Randy Newman's "You've Got A Friend In Me" played over the P.A. after two of my three favorite shows of the weekend, Big Boi's and Monotonix's.
Stage-diving is back.
Greatest moment: When Monotonix singer Ami Shalev had the "Mess With Texas" crowd sit, stand and dance on cue.
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Worst moment: My very brief visit to Fuze. I wouldn't set foot in that shithole again if Tupac, Biggie and Ol' Dirty Bastard came back to life and put on a one-night-only showcase.
To badge or not to badge? That depends entirely on who's paying. The three best sets of my weekend were by Monotonix, Big Boi and Devo. Monotonix, at the non-SXSW "Mess With Texas" party in Waterloo Park, did not cost a dime. Big Boi and Devo required badges or wristbands. Neither, however, was sold out. Devo's was the priciest at $30, and Big Boi was $15. But Monotonix put on the most memorable set of the weekend, and it was free to the badge-less public as part of Mess With Texas. If and when I go without someone else paying for the badge, I'd probably just hit up free events and splurge on a big name or two if it was somebody I was really excited about. Most of the up-and-coming indie acts making the trip to Austin schedule as many sets as they can, including non-SXSW events that don't require credentials. I had just as much fun drinking cheap beer at Spider House, where I saw my friend Stephen Kirkham play with The Astronaut Suit, as I did at many official SXSW shows.
Q. Is Devo's "Secret Agent Man" a cover? A. Yes. Or no. There is no simple answer to that question.
Q. Is there such a thing as too much SXSW coverage? A. No way.