In our final SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano answers the age-old question: Was it worth it?
The end is near.
In many past years, SX Sunday was a day to get some last minute face time with out of town friends and industry folk. We generally didn't have any gigs on Sunday and often were flying home that day. But the schedule seems to get more packed each year. This year, I've got four sets and a brief late night appearance at the Continental Gallery. It would not surprise me if I'm writing about our Monday gigs next year.
At about 11:30, Ice Cold Singles arrive at the Hole In The Wall for our noon set. The club is just getting ready to open. The bartender who unlocks the front door proceeds to have some sort of manic episode. Some issue with his keys is enough to send him over the edge. After the craziness of the weekend, staff at these joints are on edge. ICS plays a nice bloody mary set to about 15 people. Note to self- next year, no sets before 2pm on Sunday. If the fans can't get outta bed, we'll sleep too.
From there, it's off to Lucy's Fried Chicken for another Ice Cold Singles set, followed by a set backing Jon Langford as the Far Forlorn. The Lucy's party is a sprawling, mellow, family friendly affair. Kids and dogs running everywhere. We gorge on the provided fried chicken and set up on the tiny stage. Soundcheck mostly consists of trying to get singer Jo Walston to stop swearing into the mic. Family show. The crowd is great and both sets are a blast.
In our fifth SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano lays out the what went down on Saturday. He also might be in need of a salad.
This day and night were all about Jon Langford and Buck Hogarth. The Waco Brothers had no Saturday sets. Backing up Jon's sets of solo and Mekons material would be the order of the day. A set with the legendary Buck would end the evening.
My only intake of fruits and vegetables this week has consisted of lime juice and salsa. Though I'm exhausted, sleep is difficult. I get up at 9am, put some caffeine in my bloodstream, hose myself down and head out to run some errands. Then, it's back to the office at Guero's. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Happy Yard Doggers, showing us some love!
In the early years we came to SX, I searched out and saw a lot of great shows. These days, with 15 shows of my own to do, about the only music I catch are the bands that play right before or right after us. On Friday, I saw a terrific end of a set by new Bloodshot signees Banditos. One of the singers has the tone of Janis. Lots of people try to imitate the wailing Joplin but I've never heard someone with that tone before. I'm impressed. Yesterday, I caught great closing moments of local legend Jon Dee Graham and Chuck Prophet. Langford jokes about having to play immediately after Chuck, "As he was leaving the stage, Chuck said, "Follow that, fat boy!"".
Follow we do. The Far Forlorn is now in full seven piece mode, with the addition of Yard Dog owner Randy Franklin on mandolin. The songs are coming together and the band is becoming a formidable unit. It's a shame we don't do this more than once per year!
In our fourth SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano talks Bloodshot celebrations and SX traditions (of which he is a part of both.)
I'm just tryin' to get me some SLEEP! But my neighbors, apparently feeling the SX vibe, decide to crank Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons "December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)". Not only is this a crap song but it's of a creepy genre. Why people ever wanted to hear the "I look back fondly on finally convincing a girl to let me lose my virginity" song is beyond me. But I digress....
March weather in Austin is reliably about as picture perfect as can be. When you overhear someone yelling, "I'm TOTALLY moving here!" into their cellphone, it's always in March, never in the midst of 60 straight days of triple digit temperatures. Coming here from Chicago at the end of a long winter was always a treat. In 20 years, I can remember only one SX with cold (by Austin standards) weather. It was 2000. Here's footage of a younger, sexier Waco Brothers playing at Scholtz Beer Garden that year. Note that I am wearing a jean jacket. You cannot find any other year where outerwear in use at SX! Note that Alan is still stripped down to a wifebeater. Because he is Alan.
But yesterday, the rains came. This is bad news for the day parties. If you do not have some corporate entity handing you a big check, that is. These parties cost tens of thousands of dollars to put on. If no one's there to buy beer, there's nothing to offset the cost of renting tents, stages, PA equipment, etc. Most of the little guys who do this, like Yard Dog, lose a little money each year but consider it a worthwhile investment in raising their business' profile. Yesterday, that advertising just got a lot more expensive.
In Tall Buildings' Erik Hall wraps up his time at SXSW with (what else) seeing some excellent live acts.
On our last day in Austin we venture out as festival goers. After enjoying some of Mi Madre's tacos we're walking four-deep into downtown, each bearing a cold Topo Chico and half-joking about the sparkling water endorsement of our dreams. (This is not an uncommon aspiration for a band to hold, I've found.)
We head to Red Eyed Fly to meet some friends and hear some bands. We're pleased to happen upon our pal Michael Libramento chill-ly holding down the bass for a should-to-shoulder Natalie Prass set. Afterwards I'm finally able to catch fellow Chicago jammers Twin Peaks and am glad to affirm that those dudes put on a seriously rocking and aptly composed show.
Next we try our luck at the Fader Fort, the ominously imposing makeshift festival-within-a-festival east of the highway. At this point it's officially cold and raining, and folks are crammed underneath the shelter of the main stage tent. We're lucky to score some fancy wristbands and are watching Viet Cong pound out their set from the side of the stage. Their drummer seems unimpeded by the cast on one of his arms, and I give the band much respect for their super heavy, super minimal arrangements. The crowd is equal parts wide-eyed and dumbfounded.
As In Tall Buildings, Erik Hall had just one show to play in Austin for SXSW this year. Here's how he spent the day before and after, in the mix with other Chicago friends and musicians who traveled south.
Morning: There's cool air and cloud cover. We drink coffee for a while and then sit down to breakfast tacos at El Chilito. (Funny how much more American the Mexican food tends to be here than back home, despite the proximity to the border.)
Afternoon: We're casually running through tonight's set around the dining room table when Quin receives an urgent invitation via text to join Ryley Walker and his band at the Austin Psych Fest day party at Hotel Vegas. The astoundingly effective Uber — which I've only just started to use this week — gets us there within minutes, and we're suddenly taking in our first show of the week. The band is already playing its first notes when Quin slides onto the stage, seamlessly drizzling cymbals and drums into the mix. Lots of friends present, and it's good to say hey. "Delicate" Steve Marion, Ben Boye, Scottie McNiece, Grey Gersten, Dustin and Kristin from CHIRP.
In our third SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano talks side projects, art projects, and why not to judge a band by their name.
With barely enough time to wipe the sleep out of my eyes, the first stop for me and my throbbing headache is Broken Spoke. There, the Waco Brothers will play the noon set at the day party for Twangfest, the St. Louis roots music festival. The Twangfest folks have been very kind to us over the years.
If you've never experienced a true honky tonk, the Spoke would be a good place to start. This is the real deal, folks. Any other time of year, this place is all about classic, old school country and two steppin'. If not for the fact that they rent the place out for SX, we would not be allowed to grace this stage. When we played here for the first time last year, the owner's wife was overheard grousing, "There hasn't been any real goddamn country played here all day!" She probably had a point. It's certainly true in our case!
The Wacos have a tradition of leaping at the end many songs. It's part of our schtick to make rock star moves in a supposedly ironic way, all the while firmly believing that we actually are rock stars. The Spoke's ceiling is about three inches above our heads. That bit of choreographed comedy gold is out the window. Though at the rate our vertical leaps are declining, in a few years we may be able to incorporate them into the routine anywhere.
Joe, Tracey and Jon plotting the Wacos plans for world domination.
In our second SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano climbs up out of his hangover to give us a pretty remarkably lucid recounting of the first night's events.
At five o'clock, the whistle blows, I am freed from the salt mines and my SX weekend officially begins. I step out onto West Sixth Street and I'm greeted by Austin's most perfect weather. I'm also greeted by sensory overload. Aurally, it's a mash-up of 15 bands playing simultaneously within about a three block radius. Visually, it's a parade of music players and fans, along with spring breakers (SX has become a popular spring break destination over the years). Most are doing their best to look crazy, sexy, cool. I'm trying my best not to look like a fossil. SX usually gives me the rare inspiration to actually purchase some new clothes. I'm sporting a newly acquired thrift store shirt and a spankin' new pair of PF Flyers. I'm still just as rockin' as these kids, dammit!
Are we in Toronto yet? Jon & I hobnobbing with the power brokers of Toronto.
Facebook posts inform me that my Waco Brothers have arrived. They have checked in at Polvo's and taking in some Tex-Mex rock fuel. Me, I'm making my way through the madness to eventually meet up with Jon at an annual party for Canadian industry folk. It's put on by Jeff Cohen of the Horseshoe Tavern and Lee's Palace in Toronto. Jeff saw the Wacos at Yard Dog during SX many years ago. He became a super fan and our Canadian ambassador. Over the years, this has developed to the point where we feel like we have a Toronto family. The opportunity to eat free smoked meat, drink Shiner Bock and rub elbows with the Toronto music elite proves irresistible and Jon meets me there. The now traditional Rob Ford jokes are exchanged. Consumption and storytelling begins in earnest. This is the definition of SX. Folks seem obsessed with some newcomer/old timer, Buck Hogarth, who has a Saturday night set at ABGB. This years' buzz I guess.
Erik Hall is In Tall Buildings. He's also a SXSW vet. Deciding to keep things simple this time around, he's keeping things pretty Zen. Catch him tonight if you're in Austin!
March, 2006 - Ann Arbor, MI: Young members of the band NOMO are gathering to load up the van and embark on the 20-hour drive from Ann Arbor to Austin, TX for our first-ever trip to South By Southwest. We've decided to depart in the early evening and drive straight through the night. We've heard tales of the mayhem and sheer magnitude of the event at our destination, and spirits and expectations are high as we roll out of town and turn on to I-94 West.
It's dark. The hours are long. Some brave band member is piloting the van through some part of the middle of the U.S.A., and the road drones along under us. No one has spoken for a while. At some point we discovered that if one bench-mate opts to take the floor then both can stretch out their legs and attempt to get some actual sleep. Dan Piccolo (drums) is stirring while trying his best to stay comfortable. He rolls over onto his other side, and through the darkness he can make out the face of one Justin Walter (trumpet). Justin is staring back at him, wide awake, and in his usual, darkly-comical monotone he utters two words: "Maximum pain."
The Waco Brothers are SXSW veterans and it says something that the descent on Austin still gets at least one member of the band excited. In our first SXSW Tour Diary update from Dean Schlabowske (aka Deano), the guitarist/singer/songwriter waxes a bit nostalgic.
As this past year marked Bloodshot Records' 20th Anniversary, it's great to see him recount the good ole days of SXSW way back in 1996, when, as he puts it : "Bloodshot was more of a hobby than a career for the principals involved. And the band was more of a gentleman's tippling club than a proper group. Come to think of it, it still is!"
I start getting giddy about SXSW at the beginning of March each year. Yes, I realize this makes me hopelessly uncool. Any legit rocker adopts a stock photo sneer and rants about corporations, hipsters, unpaid gigs, blah, blah, blah. But I'm here to preach magic, good people!
My first SX was 1990. I played in a noisy guitar band called Wreck. Although we played in the same Chicago circles as Jesus Lizard, Tar and the like, the fact that our records were released on industrial dance label Wax Trax! meant that we were never quite accepted in that world, despite our Albini-produced records. But Wax Trax! was quite a big label by indie standards. That meant we were expected to be a "national act". Which meant playing the big industry events like SX and CMJ in New York.
Wax Trax! secured us an official showcase gig. We drove down in two vehicles: my Ford Escort and bassist Kurt Moore's small pick up. The Escort broke down along the way. Somehow (credit cards), we made it 1,000 miles with all of our gear. We only had the one set to play. If there were day parties in 1990, we didn't know about them and certainly weren't invited! We had nowhere to stay. We slept on the lawn of the City of Austin Power building. We ate at Taco Cabana. The only thing else I can remember is that I knew I had to come back to Austin.
We did, the next year. Our showcase gig was at Emo's. After loading in our gear, drummer Bart Flores and I wandered around the corner and stumbled upon a Flaco Jimenez and Freddy Fender set on a big outdoor stage. On the bill with us at Emo's were the Bad Livers. We found better Mexican food. We had floors to sleep on. Things were looking up.
Despite our obvious genius, Wreck did not rocket to stardom and we broke up a couple years later. But during a Wreck recording session that we had asked Jon Langford to produce, Jon & I discovered our mutual love of classic country. Drunk story short, the Waco Brothers were formed and a 20 year tradition at SX was born shortly thereafter.
Bloodshot Records artists Waco Brothers would be right at home in Austin any day of the year, with their tried and true alt-country heart and rugged punk edges. Helmed by Jon Langford, they're loud enough to drown out a crowd and sweet enough to charm your momma, and ultimately they're a force to be reckoned with on stage or off. Their most recent release was 2012's Great Chicago Fire.
We at Gapers Block try to cover the SXSW Music Festival in Austin as if it were a local festival — because every March, Chicago sends dozens of acts and hundreds of fans down to Texas, making sure our city's music scene stays well represented. This year's festival runs March 11-16, and will feature a broad swath of Chicago acts both young and old.
That's pretty light representation, but there were only eight Chicagoland acts announced this early last year, and we still ended up with over 60 local acts showcasing at the festival, and a couple dozen more from neighboring states. The next artist announcement is due Jan. 13, so we'll see just how many we get this year.
If you're planning to go to the festival, get your tickets and book a room in Austin now, as most of the hotels close to the epicenter are already sold out.
As always, we'll be bringing you coverage of Chicagoland acts at the SXSW Music Festival as it happens. Stay tuned, and read our past coverage of the fest in the archives.
This was music industry veteran Martin Atkins' advice for bands at this year's South By Southwest music festival in Austin, TX: "You're fucked, nobody cares, everybody's doing it."
When you're in the thick of 6th Street in downtown, deep in the shit, you can see what he means. Live music blares from every bar and restaurant on the strip. Elsewhere in the city, houses, thrift shops, and churches turn into music venues.
People stumble between them like it's St. Patrick's Day -- which was celebrated on the Saturday of the festival, not that anyone noticed.
Finding yourself among this Great Migration of bands and music fans, you have two options: go with the flow or be swept away.
"It's kind of like riding the mechanical bull," mused Archie Powell of Archie Powell & the Exports. "The object is not to not fall off, it's to hold on as long as possible -- and if you're going to fall off, try to do it gracefully."
Robbie Fulks rounds out his reports from Austin. He comes back to considering the business of the festival, and considers how well he played his part this past week. Plus, he offers up a quick lesson on how to play a Texas honky-tonk gig.
I cleaned up and left the house in west Austin and went back to the hotel near downtown, where there was still a room in my name. Rob and Josh from Bloodshot Records were in the lobby, and together we headed to the little cantina where I was for some reason part of an afternoon of "Brooklyn Country Music." On the way over we talked about the unpredictable benefits vis-a-vis the certain costs of participating in South by Southwest. Rob said that a generous partnership with a beer company, the end result of a social relationship with loopy youngsters fortuitously forged at SxSW years ago, got his company through the recession and provided years of ballast. He said that he tells his bands, "I can tell you what will happen if you don't come to Austin, I can't tell you what will happen if you do."
For myself, I hope one thing comes out of my sizable investment here, and that's a precious spot on the lineup of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the blue-chip fall festival in San Francisco. I was told that the booking lady was at our Yard Dog show on Friday. Other than that, the contacts I made — with, for instance, a promoter from Columbus, a house concert couple from Baltimore, a very friendly editor/writer/photog from Acoustic Guitar magazine — were great to have but probably not necessary to come here for a week to obtain. If I can make my way into the elite H-S ranks, though, chalk this trip up as a solid success for ole Robbie.
Archie Powell, oddly enough of Archie Powell & the Exports, brings us back to the beginning to round out the week's updates from the band. Here's hoping the boys' livers have weathered Austin intact!
"Well, we've gone and done it, folks. We've ruined the show."
I exclaim at our Good Land Records showcase yesterday after a particularly climatic and in-your-face bridge from our new record apparently destroys the circuit breaker and renders our microphones and amplifiers useless. Here's panic mode, for those of you not accustomed to purposely making an ass of yourself in public. When there's pervasive feedback and buzz saw vibes coming from all the speakers, at least you're acting the fool in a way you've rehearsed. These people have got to watch something for the next thirty minutes, though, and it's not their fault that you only got two and a half full-mast tunes in before the power went blooey.
Playing solo acoustic is definitely outside my comfort zone, especially when it's something that makes its necessity known under extreme duress. Good thing I don't take myself seriously, or this may have been more of a problem. I guess it's kind of like getting naked in front of all your friends, but I did that for real outside the Burlington on my birthday two years ago. Sometimes you just gotta roll with the punches. The power eventually came back on ("Mr. Hammond, the phones are working...") and we finished out our set with a Judas Priest cover. Just keeping it real, man. The whole thing ended up being a great hang.
Suds and buds: technical difficulties yet again fail to ruin the party
Archie Powell & the Exports' Ryan Lynch has Friday's updates for us. Things are a little troubling. But at the center is still some good Chicago love.
"Hey man, how's your testicle?" a concerned friend yelled into my ear while at the Chuggin Monkey this afternoon. "I'm back at 100% now!" was my reply. "Ready to do this whole thing over again today"
My band mates (and wife, Laura via text) have had constant updates on the status of a weird aching man-parts situation I've been dealing with the past 36 hours. Still not entirely sure what the deal was, but possible theories include: sleeping funny on a tile floor, walking too much in tight jeans, rocking too hard, and "bro, you're just backed up."
I'm gonna chalk it up to the physical toll that SXSW takes on every band involved. By three days in, the sunburn, dehydration, hangovers, ringing ears, overstimulation, miles of walking and insane load-in and parking situation at most shows leaves everyone with a 100-mile-stare and desire to be cooked sous-vide in a hot tub until all your flesh falls off the bone like a perfectly cooked pork shoulder.
Robbie Fulks's Friday was filled with some good SXSW-vibes, and even a bit more music, thanks to a successful Yard Dog party with his label, Bloodshot. Family's always best, right? But perhaps he's over-stayed his time in Austin? I sense a black cloud on the horizon.
Today the corpse is starting to stink. I should have left days ago. I'm still here. On Lamar, on Barton Springs, across the river on Congress, the seething pullulating crowds continue to surge and sway across and alongside and against auto traffic on their way to the next tasteless margarita, the next trending band, friends across town, bankruptcy. "Check check" barks a bleating fathead, his lips smashed against the grate of a midline microphone at nine in the morning on a big corporate sponsored stage near Einstein's Bagels. A rachitic young white trio with electric guitar and drumkit is ever so gently trying to get the attention of sensation-glutted passersby across from the smoothie stand next to the Continental Club. You can't see the pavement for crumpled paper and drippings from people's mouths, you can't see the walls for bugs, you can't see parking spaces because they aren't there. Music-addicted, story-addicted, anywhere-but-here-addicted, thumbsucking humanity has made a place for itself — buyer's market America — and the result is rot, idiot chatter, music that will embarrass us for generations to come, and all the ravages and indignities of cancer. Please add 90 minutes to your GPS's estimated arrival time, ladies and gentlemen. It's Disneyland with drinks, it's Rush Street, it's St. Patrick's, it's Million Moron March, it's all things to be avoided, it stinks.
But let's accentuate the positive. We had our best show yet, over at the Yard Dog, in front of a warm and friendly group. I had talked to Ben awhile in the morning, and with all the board problems — the Continental's soundboard had broken down shortly before our arrival, the one at the Spoke had beer and stuff crusted in it preventing calibrated fader moves — and the closely related feedback plague, we decided that using a crappier mike on my guitar, a non-condenser — in short, an SM-57 — would be best. That did help us at the Yard Dog, that and reducing the monitors to a whisper. At once I could tell that we were connecting with the people in front of us; whatever was being represented of us out in front was ample and was a pretty balanced image of all the instruments and vocals. Great. It was our first decent show of the week, and it was what all our shows should be like, and usually are like. I wish we could have done as well at all our shows here.
Sometimes you go to a rambunctious, foggy, boozy, punk/country show to end your night before passing out on a ceramic tile floor in Austin, TX. Then you wake up in the morning on said floor to the realization that the venue you were at didn't have a smoke machine and that "fog" smelled kind of funny...Thus begins my Thursday at SXSW 2014.
9am never pairs well with rock n roll, but an early wake up time was on the agenda to hit an acoustic performance in an old air stream called the Ham Solo. (Star Wars pun intended). Being accustomed to van life, piling four dudes into a baby blue aluminum trailer and talking about how I fashion my look after Chewbacca's was extremely familiar. As a bassist, I don't provide much in instrumentation in these types of performances, but some backup vocals from The Exports earned me a breakfast taco as we accompanied Archie while he played two new songs from our upcoming record Back in Black (Yes, it's really called that).
Robbie Fulks has 2 more days left in Austin. But on Thursday, there was: Drama! Intrigue! Beautiful women! Expensive cars! and more!
This morning I awoke to a call from my friend Elaine (whom I love with all my heart). It was an emergency vocabulary call. She needed a word for when simple meanings are encoded in elaborate phrases which expand absurdly over time, for example contemporary job descriptions. Where she works, at a music school, the teachers were first called "teachers." Later the designation was upgraded to "teaching artists," and now an outside consultant was instituting "teaching artist fellows." At three words we're in more of an activity zone: painting lady fingernails, watching Scotty grow. I couldn't think of a word, I could think only of "title inflation," which didn't cover the terrain as broadly as she was hoping. Googling, however, I found a neat one-word neologism for title inflation: uptitling. What is a word for when you invent a silly word to describe a sillier trend? Maybe southbysouthwesting.
Elaine was dismayed by my cat dilemma with Mrs. Norris. (This will be like joining General Hospital in season 27 — I'm not going to provide backstory or define established terms from here on.) [Editor's note: Catchuphere.] "Have you seen that movie?" she said. "What is it? Lood....Loon Davis? Lewr? Funny name, it's about a folksinger. Some benefactors open their nice apartment to him and the first thing he does is lose the cat." Takeaway: I've done something so losery that a Coen Brothers character beat me to it.
I ran briefly into Lisa Pankratz on the running trail this morning. She and her husband Brad are gigging this week with Dave and Phil Alvin, with Brennan Leigh, and with Roger Wallace. I made a list of some friends I wanted to go hear tonight — those guys, Rhett Miller, Chris Mills. Seems a shame to come here and miss the music part.
While I was washing laundry, I saw Mrs. Norris on the porch, but I couldn't coax her inside. I'd move a muscle, she'd abscond. Elaine had mentioned catnip, so I went across town to Petco to get some. While there I also got a wire-mouse toy to dangle before Mrs. Norris, and a litter scoop. I came home and opened the deck doors, and before I had the chance to deploy any of the new-bought items, she sidled in and headed to the food dish. I sneaked around the other side of the kitchen island, crouching low martial-arts-style so she couldn't see me, and slammed the door shut, victorious. I looked at my watch to memorize the moment. 2:25pm. The cat saga was over.
Archie Powell & the Exports drummer RJ Schillaci chimes in for the latest entry from Austin. Looks like he's hitting all the SXSW festival high points: Free Stuff.
Day Two of Archie Powell & The Exports take on SXSW started for me on the floor of an unfurnished apartment in a sleeping bag trying to recover from a long night of all the drinks and one of the most amazing shows we have ever played. Riding high on how well the showcase went, I soon realize that it's only Wednesday and I have $11 to my name. So my goals the whole day was to not spend a dime and see where the day took me!
Spoiler Alert: The day ends drunk on the floor of the unfurnished apartment.
Being and official SXSW artist did help when it came to free food/beverages/swag. Starting with an artist lounge in the Austin convention center containing beer, coffee, and our super rad artist backpack! The main perk and helpful to me not spending money was an artist tent on the street with cheeseburgers and an open bar. Also tons of Doritos.
Robbie Fulks still has cat problems, but I think he's getting to a very Zen place about it. What follows is a relating of his latest travails involving: the cat, long drives in a noteworthy van, thoughts of crumpling crotch parts, and a bit more about the cat. This is getting epic.
Here's one more way of halving humanity, or dividing it into two unequal groups: people who habitually fret over every niggling detail of daily living even when it's clearly unproductive and useless to do that, and people who project ease and confidence through the very worst of it — people who seem to assume a nearly medical duty, of propping up the rest of the race with empty but nonetheless soothing ministrations, saying, sometimes implicitly through their bearing and sometimes aloud, "Don't worry!" The pilots I know through my son, on duty or off, and a lot of lawyers, and many of the spouses of each, and certain (though not all) graduates of elite colleges: solidly in group two. Most of my musician friends, on the other hand, and most of those in my and my wife's family, and I myself — most people generally, I imagine — are in the first. There is so much to worry unproductively about. Worry after worry leading nowhere in particular and followed by certain extinction. I think that an apparently relaxed disposition must not be deep-grained, but a shallow facade. After adjusting for income, we are all facing the same small routine challenges, and same large unsolvable one.
The cat conundrum is the central thing right now. I call it a conundrum because now she appears occasionally and looks at me reprovingly before disappearing again — I was so close to nabbing her twice today but she got away. As of this morning, when I woke, she was still missing in action, and I had slept little due to worrying — every little noise I heard including that of the cat still safe indoors presented the image of the cat stuck under the deck and clawing to get out — so over morning coffee I started calling assorted people to worry aloud to them.
Robbie Gjersoe voiced outrage on my behalf. "You don't go away and leave your pets to a stranger and expect everything to work out," he said with feeling. He seemed to be jumping ahead to some kind of trial, with me as defendant and the homeowners as the aggrieved plaintiffs. "I'm glad you're on my side," I told him, "but I don't think they're to blame, and anyway it's not a dispute. It's just a bad situation, and I'm upset not so much because of being at fault as because an innocent creature is in danger and maybe suffering, and I just wish I could...turn back time...and not having a course of action is frustrating." Robbie wanted me to take heart in my essential innocence, which might have been comforting but it seemed too much like advice given you by someone on your payroll.
As the cornerstone of the City of Chicago's effort to attract talent and tourism during this year's South by Southwest (SXSW), Chicago Made brought together a wide range of local artists that handily represented the energy and diversity of the city. Until it was shut down. Here's what happened:
Robbie Fulks cares. About heart health and "Texanliness", among other things. But may not make the best cat caretaker, if you're thinking about loaning him your house.
Yesterday I was scoffing at how little festival color and news my posts would transmit, but today I started to feel sad and ashamed. Vested with all the journalistic trust by a website, only to produce dull diary entries pertinent to no one's interest. I should get out there in the field. So I Googled "south by southwest best music 2014" and similar phrases. "Agnes Obel," says Paste.com, "exists at the crux where beauty and sadness are indistinguishable, weaving sedative piano whispers around tales of aborted love." I know poor Agnes Obel didn't write that, and might not even endorse the description, and maybe she doesn't sound like what that suggests, but if she did, wouldn't it be just awful? That's not something to go do for fun. Or because you are down on your website-writing performance. And there are eighty-four other suggestions of don't-miss music on the site. Eighty-four! With music clips included but no information about where or when they'll be playing. Sorry, but I'm not seeing anything while I'm here.
This day just passed had a truly hideous aspect, which I'll get to. I got up and went to Starbucks, where I saw Terry Lickona of Austin City Limits, and where I also saw a young light-haired bearded guy with a tight short-sleeve cowboy shirt, sitting at a table talking about his music and gesticulating emotionally to a Sephardic older gentleman who appeared deeply sympathetic and who hung on every word with a cocked head. Which character in that music business tableau would you rather be, if you had to choose? Winning entry gets one Gapers Block mug. [Editor's note: we have no mugs, sorry.]
Archie Powell of Archie Powell & the Exports gives us the run-down on the band's first day in Austin, including just as much corporate mumbo-jumbo as you'd expect and some Chicago pride.
I skipped SXSW last year, and all the while I was convinced I hadn't really missed much. Today was a reminder of what the big deal of this whole fracas really is. And it was only day one.
To begin with a lighter note, SXSW offers plenty in way of the complimentary and absurd. This is no surprise to the average veteran, but to those at home who have never made the trek, allow me to illustrate: if you tweet about Cottonelle baby wipes, you can earn yourself a free massage. Pair that with a commendable array of odd pan-cultural fusion via vehicular culinary purveyors stationed across the street and you've got a bizarre start to your day. Korean chicken burrito and hygienic towelettes. Conflict of interest? Perhaps, but just roll with it. This shit's all over the place.
Archie Powell & The Exports had the pleasure of playing their first official SXSW showcase today (specifically curated by the city of Chicago's department of tourism). We aren't used to this. We met the mayor and were served fancy tray snacks like we weren't a crew of unwashed transients. After a spell of being on the road, you're lucky to get eye contact with the Boomer elites, let alone be given the time of day and goaded into crushing a baker's dozen horseradish short rib buns. We all took full advantage and loaded our gear into the night's venue universally droopy-eyed.
The Chicago Made music showcase at South By Southwest was shut down by the fire marshal early Wednesday morning, with officials indicating the number of people in the venue exceeded its maximum capacity.
Robbie Fulks gets us started with SXSW diaries with some pre-trip thoughts as he got ready to head south on Monday. Read on for his (at times) brutally honest entry.
Of all the musicians participating in this year's South by Southwest I may be the worst choice to send daily dispatches home. Which immediately raises some questions, such as: why the worst? And: what, don't I like South by Southwest or something? And: why then did I agree to write about the conference for the wonderful website Gapers Block?
Last one first, I agreed to write because I like to write. I especially like the phase of writing where you reflect on, sift, edit, straighten, plump up, and in some valid way add dramatic interest to the day's events, which as they happened appeared random and not that interesting. I like making sentences and the effort to get better at it. That's simple.
As to liking SxSW or not liking, I have mixed feelings about the annual gathering of musicians, techies, filmmakers, and miscellaneous media scum. I've done it three other times and, I have to confess, I had a grand time each visit. But my enjoyment wasn't correlated with any of the sanctioned goings-on. I mostly avoided wristband events. It was visiting friends in diners, taking in the balmy weather, being drunk, watching Redd Volkaert and Bill Kirchen and Dale Watson and Stephen Bruton (R.I.P.) play at off-track venues, having fantastic Mexican food, and sleeping in a quiet bed up in the hills outside of town that made it such a blast.
It's been 8 years since I last attended "the little conference by the Colorado," and I hear there's not a lot of quiet there anymore. No beds either, as I found out when I tried Pricelining rooms in February. And there's not nearly as much outside-of-town, since tech has come to Texas, inflating its capital into the US's second largest. A couple days ago in Chicago, I ran into an old musician friend, a banjoist and central Texas native. "I'm headed to Austin next week, and I'm a little worried, based on what I've been hearing," I told him. "The crowd factor is pretty out of control since you were there last," he admitted. "But just stay away from the official shows, and you'll be fine."
Preaching to the choir! This is why I fear I'm ill-chosen to guide you, dear reader, through all the excitement, buzz, and magic that is South by Southwest. Of my least favorite things on earth, three that spring right to mind are:
Let's face it, it's been a long, dark, cold and brutal winter in Chicago. If you weren't forward-thinking enough to plan a beach vacation by now, you're out of luck. Some of us can't afford to get to Texas ourselves for the annual SXSW conferences, but some lucky Chicago bands are headed there right now, with the intent to rock the taco-consuming masses from venues including nondescript parking lots to sponsored showcase stages. As in years past, we're following two local acts, and asking them to send daily dispatches back north, so we can bask in the warm glow that is Austin, Texas, without the added cost of airfare or hotel rooms. This year, we're following Robbie Fulks and Archie Powell & the Exports (as well as some on-site dispatches from GB's Mike Ewing). If you're not familiar, here's a quick introduction, as well as where to see them perform this week in Austin:
Our first local act is a Bloodshot Records mainstay. Robbie Fulks is not only a current local artist, he's lived here for over 30 years. A little bit country, and a little bit rock your ears off, Fulks brings a traditional country singer/songwriter sensibility to the mic, without the coffee house pretension. Coming from a historic country tradition, his music is like a refreshing beverage arriving the second you need long, cool drink. Here he is with Jon Langford in the Bloodshot offices, recently covering a Barbara Mandrel song (or checkout this popup player for some other tunes):
His current (and subject to change) SXSW Music Fest schedule is below:
Tuesday, March 11, 1pm - Trade show Wednesday, March 12, 9pm - Continental Club Thursday, March 13, 4pm - Broken Spoke Friday, March 14, 12:45pm - Yard Dog Saturday, March 15, 2pm - Brooklyn Country Cantina
[The bookend shows are solo and the others are acoustic quartet (Raines, Cobb, Gjersoe).]
To catch Robbie Fulks back home, his next Chicago gig will be at the Pig & Weasel in Evanston on March 23 at 3pm. Suggested donation $15-$20 at door.
We at Gapers Block try to cover the SXSW Music Festival in Austin as if it were a local festival -- because every March, Chicago sends dozens of acts and hundreds of fans down to Texas, making sure our city's music scene stays well represented. This year's festival runs March 11-16, and will feature a broad swath of Chicago acts both young and old.
It's hard to believe the year is nearly over, and SXSW, the annual festival and conference on music, film and the internet down in Austin is only a little over three months away. Each year in Transmission, we take a look at which local musicians will be performing at SXSW Music March 7-16, 2014 to give those of you attending the fest an idea of who to keep an eye out for. And now that the first two rounds of showcasing artists have been announced, there are enough locals to file a report.
Sure, that's pretty light representation, but don't forget that this is very early -- the full schedule, usually released in February, will provide a clearer picture of how strong Chicago's presence will be felt in Austin. If you're planning to go to the festival, get your tickets and book your room ASAP, as most of the hotels close to the epicenter are already sold out.
As always, we'll be bringing you coverage of Chicagoland acts at the SXSW Music Festival as it happens. Stay tuned, and read our past coverage of the fest in the archives.
A quick update from Tom of Gemini Club as they try to gather their wits about them today down in Austin.
It's insane here. Between the mimosas and the seemingly never-end river of beer that I've been swimming in, writing, or doing anything besides playing music very, very difficult. It's like living on a missile that you're sure at some point will totally explode, but somehow, it hasn't. So here I sit, on our final day, with nearly no voice and a fuzzy brain. But this is not the time to worry. This is not the time for the feint of heart. It is time for two more shows.
A pair of updates from both Jayson and Billy of JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound about their second day in Austin for the SXSW music festival. The band's got a busy schedule that just won't quit!
Today we started off with a short set at the Pandora/Americana Music Assoc. stage. It was cool and the food was great. Also because we were the first band we got a full sound check (which is a rarity here at SX) and the band agreed that it was the best sound we'd probably get during the festival.
As they hit the ground running in Austin, we're just now catching up with neo-soul crooners JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound down at SXSW. Here's their recap from lead singer Jayson about their journey down south and first few hours in the fray.
Two days ago I was time traveling. I started just outside of Chicago. I closed my eyes for just a moment and when I opened them it was five hours later and I was thirty miles outside of St. Louis in the parking lot of a Schnucks where the mostly older patrons gave me raised eyebrows as if to ask "who is this stylish n-word*, and why am I uneasily at ease?"
I should have told them it's because I'm a herald of change, but I wasn't there to blow minds -I just wanted a salad...
After some light conversation I closed my eyes again, and this time when I opened them we were somewhere in Oklahoma and it was night. To the outside world hours had crept by, for me it was mere moments. At some point I took over driving -about ten miles before we passed a terrordome called "The Eatin' Hole". I stopped for a large coffee and after downing it promptly began having trouble keeping my eyes open. We made it to Motel Whogivesafuck without dying and the next day we were ready to be in Austin.
"Andy n Kevin" (Photos courtesy JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound)
We're following two Chicago bands at SXSW this year, and they'll be blogging for us daily from down in Austin. First up, an unedited check-in with Tom from electronic quartet Gemini Club.
And here I am. Austin, Texas. At SXSW. A small, yet powerful world where time doesn't really exist and alcohol is more important than water. Really, as I sit here at Blackheart, in a converted on house old, with early 19th century pornography and the biggest whiskey collection I've seen since my arrival. I'm on Rainy street, which is a few blocks of houses-turned bars and god bless the city for granting licenses to these lovely business owners who take pride in preserving and glorifying such wonderfully made structures.
Ands the drinks just ran out. Dear god. The. Drinks. Just. Ran. Out.
Which is probably a good thing, considering I've at it pretty heavily since 2 PM, which is when my first showcase was at the 508 club.
Man, I can find the space bar. I'm not sure I'll be able to make it to the Kendrick Lamar show at 7. I mean, there are dozens of food trucks and bars and people selling bizarre remote controlled helicopters, which I have been tempted to buy so many times that my friends keep telling me to pull the trigger. This is a bad idea. I don't need a remote controlled helicopter. I could surely use one. Definitely, for a million reasons, but this not why I am here. I'm here to get to the heart of Austin and dive straight into crowds who want to be as crazy as possible. And I will.
South by Southwest is already underway, but this week will bring thousands and thousands of music fans to Austin for the music arm of the annual conference. Two very different Chicago bands — the soul troubadours JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound and experimental electronica group Gemini Club are both loading up their vans and heading down south, and they'll be sending daily updates back to Chicago by way of the Transmission blog.
Electronica quartet Gemini Club consists of members Dan Brunelle, Tom Gavin, Ryan Luciani and Gordon Bramli. I've been a fan of the band's music for a while now, but I'd never had the pleasure of chatting with them. To get a bit more into the band's head before we hear their personal Austin thoughts, I exchanged a few questions with Tom:
It's time once again to survey the SXSW Music Festival schedule for Chicago acts to catch if and when you're down in Austin, TX March 12-17. There's a good range of local artists heading down this year, representing everything from hip hop to folk to retro soul. We've also rounded up acts from neighboring states, to give an idea of the attention given to the broader region. Special Thanks to Eamon Daly for technical assistance putting together this list.
Final thoughts on SXSW 2012 from none other than lead singer JC Brooks (naturally of JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound). Photos and video are courtesy of the band.
— Day 6
The interior of our touring van is covered in wolfmother wallpaper, and as we leave Austin and our first SXSW in our rearview I can shove my overfed self-critic into a mental trou de loup and say that we did some damn fine work...
Our final day in Austin began well — we were all good little boys and got ourselves to bed at a reasonable hour the night before, knowing that we were facing a 4 show day at the end of the gauntlet that was SXSW. I was particularly nervous because my voice wasn't feeling too strong — it actually wasn't feeling much besides hurt-y (as Ralph Wiggum would put it). I did my morning routine of throat sprays and gargles, all the time wishing that I wasn't so grimly adherent to my work ethic/personal philosophy. See, I had been told through the week to be smart and conserve my voice because we have 4 shows on the final day of the festival. Unfortunately, all I heard was: Save the good shows for later. Being hyperaware of mortality in general, I know that later isn't necessarily going to be a reality for all of us, and that death can often be sudden and cruel, so I don't save anything for later. I have a deep and abiding fear of seeing death approach and (knowing the flagellate that I can be) using that last split second of life to kick myself for not putting it all out there during my last performance, for not fully listening during my last conversation, for not fully falling into my last kiss. So I saved nothing, and though I had a week of great shows, staring down the "home stretch" was giving me agita.
JCBUS and Counting Crows' Adam Duritz (photo courtesy the band)
We had some technical difficulties, but here's the final day of tour diary from Jip Jop, and some photos from a few impromptu shows to remember. Guess the old rule rings true — it's not a good party, till the police show up.
— Day 4
Hello from Austin! Our second show brought the house down (almost literally) with police coming to stop all the commotion. We followed a couple of great bands from Berklee School of Music — Canary and Against Atlas.
Seeing some of our favorite artists has been a major highlight of the trip. SBTRKT (below), Terror Pigeon, and Deerhoof to name a few...
Our Saturday morning update comes from the keyboardist (and Clip Art mastermind) Andy Rosenstein of JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound. This came in early Saturday, so my apologies for not getting it posted sooner — totally editor error, these guys have been amazing with their daily recaps. Photos and video are courtesy of the band.
— Day 5
by JCBUS keyboardist (and Clip Art mastermind) Andy Rosenstein
With only one show to play, yesterday felt like a day off. Billy and I went over to Barton Springs in the morning for a run along the water. It was excellent to be able to escape from pavement and crowds, if only for 40 minutes or so. It was dangerously rocky for running, but if you're visiting Austin for the first time, I can't suggest it highly enough as an easy hike.
After cleaning ourselves up, we headed down the Bloodshot day party. Technically it was located at the Yard Dog Gallery, but in practice was just a whole lot of people energetically hanging out in an alley. The food was great, the Lagunitas beer flowed freely, and it was my first chance to watch the many many members of the Bloodshot family play on one stage. I got to see Lydia Loveless for first time. She killed. Rosie Flores and her band blew my mind. Then it was our turn.
If you missed out on Thursday's 5pm live stream of JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound performing at the YouTube/Google Live At The Lot party down at SXSW, you can enjoy it today while you're just hanging around your cube. Check this handy time-stamped URL, or play the whole thing on the embedded player below (you can get to the band at the 4h 22m 16s mark). Great job, guys! If you're not already reading along with the band's SXSW 2012 tour diary, just check out their posts here in Transmission, along with updates from Chicago hip hop group, Jip Jop.
The boys have been busy busy busy! This update came in during the wee hours of the morning from Billy Bungeroth (oop) bassist, Ben Taylor of JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound from down in Austin at SXSW. They've got another couple full days of shows to go! Power through it, fellas! Photos are courtesy of the band.
— Day 4
Sweet merciful crap, I'm exhausted. It's 3am and I finally made it back to the hotel and it sounds like an angry bear is sawing logs in the bed next to me. But no worries, since as soon as I finish writing this, I'm going to collapse. We rocked the outdoor stage at the Paste Magazine party this afternoon, right after the indoor set by our LA doppelgangers, Vintage Trouble; ran into their guitarist and drummer on 6th street a few hours ago, nice folks.
Another overnight (possibly probably sleep-deprived) update from Billy Bungeroth of JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound from down in Austin at SXSW. Photos and video are courtesy of the band.
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound perform at the Ginger Man at SXSW 2012 (Photo courtesy the band)
Big Things Happening
"Here's the thing about SXSW," Andy tells me, "As you walk through the streets, everyone starts to feel like the walk-on's in your life." You see guys from other bands you've toured with, new fans, old friends you haven't seen in years. And don't forget celebrities: Jim DeRogatis (Sound Opinions), Jack White (Third Man Records), and Carson Daley (who was sitting in on drums with TheeOhSees!!!). It doesn't feel like Texas, it's as if someone turned Williamsburg into an amusement park and all your friends are there. And whether it's the lack of sleep, or 312in a can, it feels like something is happening.
Gearing up for their next show in Austin tonight, Carlos checks in with what's been occupying Jip Jop's time in Texas. Do we have some new SXSW converts? Yes, yes we do.
— Day 3
SXSW has not failed to disappoint! Every street is full, every bar packed, and every show is live. We started the day by heading to the Greenbelt to take a break from the crowds and experience a different side of Austin.
The latest update from Billy Bungeroth of JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound from down in Austin at SXSW. Photos and video from the band create a lively multimedia montage.
SXSW is a madhouse and it hasn't even started yet. We have two shows to play tonight before official heck in begins tomorrow — one for a Google Party the other for an Innovate Chicago party. We wind up setting up at the first gig and the schlepping our equipment six blocks through a sort of Wrigleyville meets Mardi Gras with Mumford and Sons lookalikes standing on every corner atmosphere to the next. The sets are and the good band continues to play well. In all honesty though we got upstaged by an awesome quartet of thousand year old Japanese punks superheroes called Peelander Z. Basically the Peelanders dress like power rangers or giant squids and bowl themselves across the stage — literally bowl while playing Shonen Knife meets the Ramones dlacored punk.
Our second gig goes great, no squids no problem. Lots of folks dancing. I'm not sure what I expected but this is a scene like no other. In a week I'll be better equipped to say. It's crowded, which stinks, but it's with music, which rules.
Well never fear, Jip Jop is making some new friends down in Austin, and fitting in just fine. Here's the latest from Carlos and Jip Jop.
We played at Baby Blue Studios on E. 12th St. and witnessed a dusty garage party turn into a wall-shaking dance party before our eyes. Bikes chained to gates, keg lines, red cups, and a crowd ready to party late into the night gave us that authentic Austin vibe we came for.
The energy was amazing! Our boys at Good Luck Sir put together a great line-up of music that we were happy to headline.
The second of the two bands we're following on their tour from Chicago to Austin, Texas is the neo-soul outfit JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound. They've got an exhaustive schedule lined up for the week, often with two shows per day, just minutes apart, and we're so glad they decided to burn some of that sweet sweet downtime with some tour diary posts for Gapersblock. Below is the first report in from guitarist/vocalist Billy Bungeroth.
Woke up to the sun in the backseat of the van this morning, somewhere on the outskirts of Austin. Our first time trekking down for SXSW. Back in January, we were waking up in Minneapolis to -11 degrees, so 82 degrees and sunny is a good look.
Its been six weeks off the road in Chicago and the nerves we had that we'd be rusty for SXSW were calmed by duo of 90 minute sets in Davenport and St. Louis which went off great.
Today we woke up at our buddy Phil's, some of us inside on bunk beds, some of us outside in the van. The lines for coffee were too long so a spread of fish tacos and Lone Stars got us going. We dug for soul 45s at Friends of Sound. I was able to find Laura Lee's "Dirty Man" on Chess. And now BT's in the bathroom of our hotel mowing JC's hair with clippers, Kevin's online, and Andy's meditating in the lotus position.
Anyway you figure it, we're preparing for the week ahead.
Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to Austin.
See JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound's full SXSW schedule after the jump:
Once again we're following some awesome Chicago bands down to Austin for SXSW. Carlos from Jip Jop is the first of our friends to check in, with a quick recap of their drive down to Texas. Jip Jop's blend of hip hop and jazz presented with some killer horns, keys, drums and rhymes is sure to entertain the crowds down south. Check out their album Important (and download it) at Bandcamp.
Coming fresh off a performance at Chicago's Double Door (above), with no sleep and a van that fits about 12 uncomfortably, eight (8) of us packed in (equipment included) and started on the 1,164 mile road-trip to SXSW.
Even with no rest, the van was still rowdy. Rest stops for coffee runs, band members creating music in the backseat, lots of laughs and one goal, don't stop until we get there. The all encompassing sentiment in the air was unbridled and pure excitement.
We at Gapers Block have made it a tradition to cover the SXSW Music Festival in Austin as if it were a local festival. That's because every year, Chicago sends tons of acts and hundreds of fans down to Texas in March, making sure that our city's music scene stays relevant and prominent.
SXSW has finalized its official showcase list, and Chicago acts are well represented. As we do every year, we've compiled a list of all the Chicago-based official showcasing acts, as well as groups from around the region, showcases and parties by local labels, and even "unofficial" shows by Chicago bands. If you're planning a trip down to Austin March 13-18, give these folks your support.
Here's a rundown of other performers from the region so far:
BoDeans (Now listed as being in Milwaukee instead of Waukesha, as they were last year)
Cheap Girls (Lansing, MI)
Circuit des Yeux (Lafayette, IN)
Diplomats of Solid Sound (Iowa City, IA)
Tammar (Bloomington, IN)
Wet Hair (Iowa City, IA)
Again, it's very early in the announcement process -- only three rounds so far -- so it's nice to see that at least a few Chicago and regional bands are in the mix already. Stay tuned in early 2012 for what's sure to be a longer list.
Musikanto is fronted by Mike Musikanto, who made his mark on Chicago's folk/roots/Americana scene with Sleeper Car. The band's music shows a lot in common with past SXSW act Joe Pug, but with more of a full-bodied sound. Musikanto's lightly rough tenor rises above the lilting folk orchestration on Sky of Dresses, the band's second album.
Another act, Mahogany, is listed as being from Chicago, but they're actually from Philadelphia and New York. Their geographic misplacement appears to be the result of an upcoming 12-inch they're putting out on BLVD Records.
As always, we'll be bringing you coverage of Chicagoland acts at the SXSW Music Festival as it happens. Stay tuned.
SXSW is a celebration of bands, and the people who love them from around the world. Hundreds of thousands converge on Austin to partake in a total free for all, where every restaurant, cafe, and vintage shop form a loose confederation of concerts that take shape as an internationally acclaimed, city-wide festival.
White Mystery embarked on tour weeks ago and shredded shows with amazing bands in Iowa City, Omaha, Kansas City, Memphis, and Dallas en route. Terrain, weather, and punk cultures change like a gradient from the Midwest to the South in March, with leather jackets in blizzards to sweat-drenched rockers in sweltering weather.
Francis and I are siblings, and a band. White Mystery played eight shows in five days, ranging from the Ice Cream Man showcase with the Screaming Females at Club Deville on Tuesday, where the outdoor stage is surrounded by natural cliff-like walls and the crowd is huge (see photo above), to PBR Blast-Off surrounded by beer-fueled native Chicagoans like Rabble Rabble and My Gold Mask, then off to the California-based Burger Records Showcase with King Tuff and Apache sponsored by CHIRP at a lawless record shop called Trailer Space (tell Spot that Alex White sent you), slaying a secret show with the Black Lips and Greenhornes at the Sailor Jerry festival, to playing with Thee Ohsees and Davilla 666 at Beerland.
We spent the week tromping the litter-strewn streets of Austin, cruising VICE parties to see buzz bands Davilla 666, OFF! and Odd Future, and partaking in generous helpings of street food. Congestion in Austin is over the top, but eerily similar to the Wicker Park Six Corners on a Saturday night, with persistent hipster traffic stumbling out of bars, carrying bags full of records, and eating hotdogs.
The goal at SXSW is to play with your favorite bands, at festival where the line between musician and fan is blurred. That mission was accomplished.
Check out White Mystery tour photos on Facebook here, and upcoming White Mystery concerts here. Our new record, Blood & Venom drops on April 20 with release shows at Pancho's in Chicago. Miss Alex White is a native Chicagoan and musician whose band blog is right here.
In true Netherfriends fashion, I got in trouble for using people's and companies' real names on the internet. Oops...but seriously though, really? How did you google search that shit? Soooo sorry to all my friends, but your name will be changed.
Tuesday morning started out with a little bit of a freak-out. I really didn't want to head downtown with my van. I came up with the idea of bringing my bike in my van and parking somewhere east and free and riding my bike the rest of the way. I met up with Ramber and we got tacos at this place called Torchy's Tacos for some of my favorite migas breakfast tacos. After that, I went to get my artist packet. I opted for the cash option instead of the artist wristband. It was funny when someone at the Austin Convention Center told me I might be able to get a wristband as well and when I asked another man at the help desk he told me I had my chance and that I blew it. He tried to persuade me to buy the artist wristband. I laughed at him and walked away. There are so many free events with free booze! Why would I want a wristband? So I can see that band (that rhymes with) Ravves again? Most official shows have zero free booze as well. After that whole ordeal, I went to the (rhymes with) Rice Rream Ruck Ran show and saw some Dan Deacon-sounding guy play. Ate some ice cream and drank some free Rarks alcoholic energy drink. It made me feel like I was in college again and for some reason they taste way better now.
Our first show downtown was at Cedar Street Courtyard and it was sponsored by a beer company RBR that was put on my friend Rason of the band Rornery Rittle Rarlings. It was all Chicago bands and I got to see a lot of my friends from Alaska, Richmond, Philly and Chicago. The sound on stage was incredible! One of my cables crapped out on me during my set, but I fixed it quickly and people commended me on the way I handled the situation. What else was I supposed to do? Throw a tantrum on stage? After the show, I hung out with my buddies in Labble Labble and Right Rollution. Some guy with huge red hair asked me to get him a beer. Sorry dude... not a bartender. So glad we played early because the band members got drunk (as usual) one of them acted a fool (as usual) and then later sent me a sloppy drunk text saying he doesn't want to play with me anymore. Which makes zero sense. He hugged me before I left and told me he loves me. Ahh, the power of alcohol.
SXSW is a lot like New Years Eve. It's a great way of finding out which of your friends drink heavily on a regular basis and which of them do not.
I was convinced that Sunday would be the day of relaxing. I was wrong. Yes, there were a bunch of open bar events, but not lot of music. I rode my bike downtown to meet up with my friend Kevin, who is another Austin host of mine. Can I please plead with people heading down to SXSW, if it's not too late: bring a bike!!!!! Taxis are hard to find and the bike rickshaw things are pricey. I severely dislike walking and HATE walking through large masses of drunk assholes. So we really had no plan of action when we got downtown. We hit up a coffee shop on the east side of 6th Street called Rio Rita to use internet to find some last minute events and drink iced tea in the sun.
[Editor's note: Here's the first SXSW tour diary from Shawn of Netherfriends. We'll be posting more throughout the week!]
Playing at SXSW is a lot like playing New York City (Especially as a small band from Chicago.) You are surrounded by millions of people in bands, it's over congested, and no one there gives a fuck about you...NO ONE! Four days before the festival, I went through a giant list of free shows forwarded to me by a booking agent friend and after 15 minutes of aimlessly searching for events with free booze, free food, and swag to rsvp to, my brain began throbbing. I almost questioned attending any show other than the 9 or 10 that Netherfriends were about to endure during the festival. I had just got done two extensive tours and was only just returning to Austin (my temporary home) a few days before the festival. I am not as jaded as I am sounding right now, but after playing shows every day for over three weeks straight, the last thing you want to do is see more live music. It's kind of like asking a plumber on his day off to fix your broken toilet and drippy sink. At least I can drink on the job.
Lisa White posted a partial list last Sunday, but thanks to some computer wizardry, we're now able to share a much more complete list of the Chicagoland acts on the South by Southwest Music Festival -- as well as those from Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin and the rest of Illinois. We've also put together an expanded list of showcases hosted by local labels, venues, publications and others. Consider this your clearinghouse for Chicago at SXSW 2011.
We do our best to cover Chicago's contributions to the annual SXSW Music Festival down in Austin, TX, and while it's still four months away and the majority of the showcased acts haven't been announced yet, there are a couple locals who've already been confirmed:
[Steve makes one final update for The Hood Internet and wraps up the duo's SXSW experiences.]
Saturday was action-packed. Started out with an afternoon set at dubFrequency's loft at Malverde where we also caught sets by Million $ Mano, Roxy Cottontail and Afghan Raiders. Next up was the launch party for Strangers In Stereo at Elysium. We missed our pals My Gold Mask who played there earlier in the day. After that we were off to the Do512 party which was outside; should be worth noting that it was like, 40 degrees. Dancing on stage under a few lights warmed things up, though. Holy Fuck played after us and really tore shit up! Our official showcase was at Karma around 11pm where we played with Oh Snap!! and DJ Car Stereo (Wars). Since four shows in one day just wasn't enough, we took a party bus out to a ranch 10 miles west of the city. There was a bonfire outside and people DJing a barn. We did a quick set sometime around 4am, and at some point the sun was rising and a different bus took us back to downtown Austin. So ended another year of SXSW. Now I'm in a minivan with Tobacco and we're headed to San Diego to start a leg of West Coast shows, but we're not out of Texas yet because IT'S A VERY LARGE STATE.
[Steve of The Hood Internet makes a check in, late Saturday night. We're expecting a last update sometime today, so stay tuned!
Where did we leave off? Started day three at the Windish/Pitchfork party at Emo's. Caught sets from Free Energy (pictured, below), Washed Out, and Dam-Funk before heading over to La Zona Rosa for a hot minute of The xx. Shift to the evening! We did our first set at the My Old Kentucky Blog / Knuckle Rumbler party and our dude Kid Static came through on the mic for one of the new tracks we've been working on. Watched a bit of Glitch Mob and from there it was off to the Hype Machine / Lose Control party for another really fun set. Closed out the night at Yea Man's second year of "It's Chicago" at The Lodge, where Only Children, Moneypenny, Willy Joy and others all repped the 312/773/suburb area codes. Day four is still in full effect... full update tomorrow!
[Alex White recaps the end of the SXSW week for her and White Mystery. Here's hoping she and Francis make it safely back to Chicago today for their record release party at the Hideout at 9pm.]
Thursday afternoon was spent at the Third Man Records pop up store at Frank's in Austin for SXSW. Busy Beaver Button Co. teamed up with Jack White's organization to develop the first ever actual wood button. Read more about it here.
Francis and I branded everything from buttons to belts, purses, and pieces of wood. We picked up the limited edition 13 inch records and made our way to see a house show at a place called the Bodega.
Atlanta natives Pipsqueak played in the living room as dozens sprawled across the front lawn. Chicago punk band Mickey took the makeshift stage and sent the dining room into a frenzy with their song "Electric Dream." Friends from Berlin based label Alien Snatch pumped fists as PA speakers toppled and the party turned to general chaos.
Libations dried up and the party moved back to record shop the Trailer Space that White Mystery played the night before. Chicago regulars lined the exterior wall reveling in the pleasant weather and sounds of the Burger Records showcase blasting into the street.
[Steve of The Hood Internet recaps his Thursday afternoon and makes some nods and winks about some cool things in the works.]
Started out the afternoon with a set at Schubas/Lincoln Hall's annual party at Yard Dog. Tons of fun and included an audience solo on my MIDI controller. Hung around for a bit then got some food at Iron Works BBQ before heading over to the Mad Decent / IHEARTCOMIX Carniville, where we got some funnel cakes and rode the Paratrooper (made my stomach drop) while The Walkmen played the main stage. Then it was off to Daytrotter's SXSW studios where we recorded with some awesome special guests for an upcoming project that I CAN'T SAY ANY MORE ABOUT RIGHT NOW. After that, got to see Broken Bells at the C3 party [photo below]! And that was day two. Now it's off to see what day three brings, followed by our three Hood sets tonight. Boing sound effect.
[The Hood Internet's SXSW schedule after the jump.]
Andy Huff [editor's note: not GB's Andrew] picked us up to hang out poolside with Althea Lagaspi for an NPR blog taping that goes up on Vocolo tomorrow [video here (NSFW) and more here].
We played the title track from the new White Mystery record, and "Powerglove" acoustic as Francis clapped and lounged poolside. Walked 1 mile to Frank to start branding wood buttons for Jack White's Third Man Records.
Got in yesterday and met up with our dude Neiliyo who had just played a day show at Shangri'la on the east side. Das Racist played and introduced themselves first as The Cool Kids, then Ninjasonik. Dropped off our bags and went downtown to meet up with Bald E., the Only Children/Apteka bros, Veronica from CreamTeam.TV and various other Chi City friends. Caught a bit of Hey Champ's set before heading over to C3's party at the 508 House where we spun a late night set that may have included a remix of Primus' "Tommy The Cat." Headed in for some sleep so we could wake up early-ish fora couple interviews with Ryan Muir (of Stereogum) at Studio SX and with the documentary crew from Press Pause Play. In both we talked about The Hood Internet in relation to the ever-changing face of modern media consumption. Now we're on a bus (baller status) headed to the Schubas/Lincoln Hall annual SXSW round-up. We'll check in again soon!
[The Hood Internet's SXSW schedule after the jump.]
[Alex White of White Mystery just sent in a brief update on her SXSW experiences:]
1pm Wake up and enjoy the sunny balmy weather on Dmiritri and Paloma's porch.
Tip for tours: always bring your own breakfast! I pack oatmeal in a ziploc and a bag oranges to keep immunity high when traveling.
2:45pm Meet up with Mickey and Skate.
Spent the morning and made it to Beerland for Awesome Color and The Spits. "Let us play your party" sent the tiny dark room into fits at 4pm-ish and it's about 80 degrees. The sun washes over me and the Austin weather is medicinal.
There's a mix of short skirts heart shaped glasses and shamrock shirts!
[Alex White of White Mystery sent in a wrap-up of the last-minute tour prep and travel to Austin.]
9am Spent the early morning preparing special projects for Busy Beaver Button co. including coverage of clients at sxsw. Thanks to an awesome button crew for mailing all the button supplies ahead of time.
1:40pm Francis arrives at my Logan Square apartment from making buttons all day. He forgot to print the boarding passes and itinerary so he hand writes all the information.
Once again, we're thrilled to be enjoying the hustle and bustle of Austin, Texas through some of our favorite Chicago musicians. The Hood Internet is loading up their luggage with lots of fruits and vegetables (I'm sure) to keep themselves running at optimal levels while they create beautiful digital mashups. Along with DJs STV SLV and ABX, we'll also be getting regular reports and pictures from the ginger rock powerhouse of White Mystery. Dare we say, that Alex White and her brother Francis are poised on the verge of world domination? Yep, we just said it. They'll be heading to Austin as well, but skipping back home early to celebrate the release of their new album at the Hideout on Saturday (keep an eye out here for more on that one).
Chicago at SXSW: Showcases and an Updated Band List
It seems my claim that Chicago would be underrepresented at SXSW this year was a bit premature. We've since received word about several showcases by Chicago labels, venues and promoters, and acts have come out of the woodwork to let us know they're heading down to Austin to play off-festival gigs. To top it off, just this Tuesday SXSW posted its showcase grid, finally providing an easy way to track down local acts -- and revealing quite a few more Chicagoans in official showcases.
From the looks of things, 2010 will be a light year for Chicago at SXSW Music Festival down in Austin. Our list of local and regional bands performing in official showcases is pretty short:
The Hood Internet
I Fight Dragons
Kidz In The Hall
Cheap Trick (Rockford)
Stephen Jerzak (La Crosse, WI)
Diplomats of Solid Sound (Iowa City, IA)
Goober and the Peas (Detroit)
The Hounds Below (Detroit)
Note that I had to include Detroit as "regional" this year -- we usually don't cast quite so wide a radius to gather this many bands. On the other hand, there seem to be quite a few more international bands on the roster (which stands at 230 so far).
EDIT: Some folks questioned where we got our info -- our original list was based on the official SXSW band list. Chicago acts in unofficial showcases are beginning to trickle in -- the list is below. If you know of an act performing at SXSW, either officially or unofficially, drop us a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a comment. Stay tuned for more news and updates!
This is Versailles
Tyler Jon Tyler
My Gold Mask
The Loyal Divide
Pretty Good Dance Moves
UPDATE: Chicago.com/Music is hosting a "Chicago Beats" showcase on March 19, featuring A Lull, Breakers Broken, Yawn, Loyal Divide, The Down Feathers, Danny Chaimson, The Giving Tree Band, Kellen & Me, Remington Pettygrove, Scott Wesley Band and Matt Kelly.
[Our last recap from STV SLV and The Hood Internet from Saturday night in Austin at SXSW. Many more pictures after the jump!]
Saturday night ended around 3am and the flight back to Chicago was at 6am, so I've spent most of the day here sleeping. So here's the final report from Hood. Saturday was solid. Started out with Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers at Mohawk's inside stage, and a bit of Jason Lytle (Grandaddy) at Mohawk's outside stage. Bounced over to Radio Room for Tight Phantomz and also saw a bit of The Life & Times. After that Hood was posted up at the Coffee No Pants party at Red Eyed Fly. Saw Harlem Shakes, Princeton, Loney Dear, Titus Andronicus, and most of Chairlift. Good times. Soldiered on to the Fader Fort for the rumored-but-since-confirmed Kanye appearance on the G.O.O.D. Music party, which also included Kid Cudi, Common, Erykah Badu, GLC and others. After that it was time for the "It's Chicago" party at The Lodge. Watched Bald Eagle drop a hot set then played an hour or so of Hood jams. Kevin Drew was in tow dancing it up with the Arts & Crafts folks so you know we played ABX's R. Kelly/Broken Social Scene jam to close out the night. Tried to hit up a SPIN party but we didn't RSVP properly, which was fine, because of that whole 6am flight thing. All in all SXSW was a blast, definitely going again next year even if we don't have any shows!
[A rather philosophical final recap of Saturday in Austin by Thom of Blueblood. If you're interested in catching them in Chicago, they'll be playing this coming Sunday, March 29 at Empty Bottle with Pack A.D. $3! Cheap! ]
We played these guys, Black Diamond Heavies, at our Second Annual Brodown Hoedown party at Back Alley Social on Friday.
Saturday began by loading our gear in the rear of The Jackalope on 6th street, for a day party. We were scheduled to go on at 3:30. But, as suspected, Chicago act, Hey Champ cancelled at the last minute, and all other bands on the bill were shifted back a little.
We set out for breakfast burritos, and on a suggestion by the staff at The Jackalope, hit up the Taco Shack on Trinity. We were hoping for a more ma and pop-type camper/parking lot deal. This place was more taco bell than anything else. And they only served breakfast burritos, with eggs and meat and stuff. So I sampled the side of black beans.
We then caught our friends' Tight Phantomz short set at Radio Room over on 6th street. They slayed!!!! I cannot imagine why they aren't more popular. All the members are exceptional musicians, and the songs move across several genres. Great stuff!
After their set, we went back to The Jackalope to indulge in the free High Life special! The free beer went down smooth, and we waited for our set time, by hanging out with pals in the beer garden. Our bass player, Shaun Paul, performed his solo act "Chaperone" by himself, while Blueblood set up their gear on stage.
We played our tightest, most right-on set of the tour.
After carrying our gear through a crowded beer garden to the alley, 3/4th of Blueblood hung out and got loose, while I took a walk around Austin. It was pretty intense.
[Our first couple of Austin updates from Thom of Blueblood regarding their Friday and Saturday shenanigans.]
The boys of Blueblood enjoy beer in a garden.
Austin, Day 1:
Left Denton early enough to drive 3 hours, check into our hotel and still have time to make it to the 14th annual Schubas party at Yard Dog on S. Congress.
This year's Schubas party was kind of weak in comparison to past parties. The line-up wasn't that exciting, and the attendance was down. The only band we wanted to see was our friends, Sybris.. But after downing what it seemed like 6 or 7 free vodka lemonades, we had to leave to make our first performance at the Co-Lab on the east side.
Thus missing Sybris, who went on after we left.
Aside from us four dudes, we squeezed Ryan from Catfish Haven and three of his friends into our van and dropped them off at another party on the way.
[Our Saturday update from STV SLV of The Hood Internet. More pictures after the jump!]
Friday was pretty action-packed. Got some breakfast at Torchy's Tacos (basically the Hot Doug's of tacos) which was awesome. Headed over to the Fader Fort early on to catch Coupleskate (Chicago, get familiar) and and Solid Gold (from Minneapolis). Walked over to Emo's from there for the Pitchfork/Windish party. Caught the end of Wavves, saw a little bit of King Khan, watched most of the Diplo/A-Trak set, they had the place moving for 5pm. Took an early evening breather and hit up the rooftop hot tub at the Omni, ended up getting pretty wasted which was advantageous seeing as Hood was off to DJ in-between bands all night at the FMLY party. We made it through, as evidenced by the above photo of ABX doing the damn thing. At some point in the night, JP from Bloodshot [Ed. note: and Transmission!] hit me with the news that Ethan from LOST is actually in town researching a movie role loosely based on Jon Langford. Maybe that's just a rumor, there's always a handful of those at SXSW. For example, Metallica playing Stubb's last night (true) or Kanye playing the Fader Fort tonight (unconfirmed as of press time). Anyway after the FMLY party we contemplated going out further, and were in front of the Omni when the Red Bull party bus pulled up, but apparently Kid Cudi was trying to fill it with LADIES ONLY, so that plus still being pretty throwed helped influence the decision to call it a night. Ran into Kevin Drew from Broken Social Scene on our way to find a cab!
Real quick shout out to our gracious host for the last couple days, Austin's own NEILIYO — get his new album for free on his website right now, http://neiliyo.com/
[Our next update from STV SLV. Keep an eye out for their tweets in our live blogging post all weekend long. Don't forget you can jump in the Tweets here, or send your own via Twitter by adding #gbsxsw.]
Bradley D (left) and Designer Drugs (right).
Thursday was good. Spent a good early part of the day at the Schubas party at Yard Dog. Highlights there were The Uglysuit (lots of hair, epic jams) and Lizzy Trullie. After we left, Matt from Schubas texted me that Ethan from LOST had rolled through momentarily. Spoiler: it was adult Ethan, not baby Ethan. Took an early evening nap before dinner at Chuy's, then headed off to Canvas for the Lose Control party. I believe we did some tweets from that. Our buddy Bradley D (pictured on left) tore it up for a bit, then the band Kap10Kurt hit the crowd with some live drums/keyboard/sampler jams, then it was Hood's turn to put a hurt on them, which we did for 30 hot minutes, followed up by Designer Drugs (pictured on right), and The Twelves closed out the party at Canvas. We watched some of them then headed over to Radio Room for the end of the Sub Pop showcase, Handsome Furs were playing and sounded pretty great. After that we tried to hit up the Fools Gold Records showcase but the line was a fools' errand as Blagg The Axman might say.
We're off for Friday fun, look out for twittings on that, then we got the show tonight at Hi-Lo with Ninjasonik et al.
Got into Austin on Wednesday night. Stopped by the Marq to say what up to fellow Chicagoan Bald Eagle who was doing a midnight set, then went over to Beso for the GigaCrate showcase where Tittsworth was DJing. Saw a dude there wearing pretty much the best t-shirt ever, (photo below). That's all for right now, gotta get some breakfast and head over to the Schubas party at Yard Dog. We play the Lose Control party at Canvas tonight around 10pm.
[Reminder: check out Transmission's Hood Internet live post all weekend long, starting tonight at 9pm. You can comment, or tweet in by using #gbsxsw.]
[Thom of Blueblood gives us 2 updates today. The first a recap of their St. Pat's shenanigans. The next, a brief post before they cross the Austin City limits.]
First off- thank goodness for wide-mouthed Gatorade bottles.
We had a night off on Tuesday, so we planned to visit our friend, Randy in Kansas City. We drove to Randy's place in the Westport area, where some crazy St. Pats celebrating was happening. We walked towards the outdoor party on Westport Rd and Pennsylvania, and settled in the first bar we saw that did NOT have a line waiting to get in.
After each of us bought a round of PBR in a plastic cup... We decided to move on.
The Hood Internet will be live-blogging (well, live-tweeting mostly) their 2009 SXSW experience for us all weekend long, starting tonight. DJ STV SLV and ABX aren't on the official list this year, but they've got four gigs lined up anyway. Follow along as they broadcast their antics from down in Austin. Oh, and if you're in Austin and want to give a shout out, or you're in Chicago and just want to add your $.02 to the live-tweeting, just mark your entry #gbsxsw.
Here's the Hood Internet's schedule as it stands now, but you know they'll be playing more shows on the fly as well!
Saturday, March 21 — Red-Eyed Fly (715 Red River St.) w/ Chairlift, Titus Andronicus, Loney Dear and more for the COFFEE NO PANTS party -- hosted by Eugene Mirman 3-6pm then
Saturday night — at The Lodge (411 E. 6th St.) w/ Bald Eagle, Kid Color, Black Holes and Vyle for the IT'S CHICAGO party — they're on at 1am.
[The latest update from Thom of Blueblood as the boys shake off the road dust and head into Lincoln, NE on their way to SXSW 2009. This was their stop on Monday before they took a day off to celebrate St. Patrick's Day yesterday. BTW: if you Twitter, you can follow Blueblood there, too.]
Lincoln, Nebraska is a cute little town. The area the venue was located in, reminded me of old western movies. No tumble weeds rolled past us, unfortunately.
Arriving at the venue, we started playing the X-Men: Children of the Atom arcade game. Shaun dominated 17 matches. Each of the rest of us took turns losing to Shaun. Taking the role of Cyclops, Shaun used moves such as optic blasts, mega optic blasts, flying knee kicks and super upper cuts to squash his opponents. Using 15-hit combos really provided an advantage in winning. Golly- what a cool game. You know... if you remember the combos and moves from Street Fighter or even Mortal Kombat, they can work for X-Men as well, as well.
[The boys are taking a day off from shows today in honor of their Irish heritage, but here's a snippit of what they were up to yesterday as they rolled into Iowa.]
Chinese pizza? What? That's crazy talk. Or is it? Fong's Pizza in Des Moines Iowa is one of a kind. Delicious drinks filled with 5 different kinds of rum, a cute friendly staff and egg rolls filled gooey muzzerella [sic], red sauce sausage and pepperoni. Sound like heaven to me. Pitchers of Kirin Lager were flowing seamlessly throughout the night, as were the "kamikaze" shots our wonderful server had suggested. When you do the "kamikaze" shots you must wear a bomber helmet that Vong's supplies. And believe you me, you need it. The lemony goodness goes down so smoothly that rounds and rounds were ordered, which our server gladly participated in. All in all Vong's gets an A+ in food, friendly staff and wondeful drinks. Thanks Fong's you made our stay in Des Moines a happy one. Oh, and we played Vaudeville Mews.
[The next installment from Thom of the band Blueblood as they travel from Chicago to Austin to play shows at SXSW.]
Day Two: Madison
Got into Wisconsin's capital, and were able to load all the gear through the alley.
We then visited Otis Redding's memorial. After that and a short walk in search of coffee, we parked near the venue and sorta slept, kinda, not really. Shaun, in the driver's seat decides that his button-down shirt should be sleeveless. So he ripped the sleeves off. Chippendale style.
We pretty much exhausted our tour of Madison, so sitting in the van was the most exciting thing to do at the time. Shaun and I drank a few beers, while Michael and Mark slept.
[Sent in this afternoon from Thom of Blueblood, who we'll be following for the next week or so as they make their way from Chicago to Austin to play at SXSW 2009.]
We arrived in Milwaukee by 6pm. We weren't schduled to load in until 9pm. We sat in Frank's Power Plant for few Sprecher micro lites. (So good). We then acted on a suggestion and made our to Palomino for dinner. Upon walking through the door, we see an old High School friend of mine and Michael's, Robyn Lucks. Robyn moved to Milwaukee about 3 years ago, and has since grown some roots in our fav city to the north. After a delicious, yet plentiful vegan dinner, we went back to Frank's. We arrived back at about 9pm. We were rushed to put our gear together witj a quickness, as they had to squeeze 4 bands in that night before 1am. Blueblood took the stage at 10pm sharp, and played 7 songs to a sparce room.
In the past, we've followed a couple of musical groups down from Chicago to Austin for the annual music lovefest that is South By Southwest. This year is no different, as we get a virtual seat in the van with Chicago band Blueblood and once again get to sneak aboard the magic carpet ride with The Hood Internet. Keep your eye right here for daily updates, photos, and a very special liveblogging event later next week. If you're headed that direction yourself, keep an eye out for the many, many bands from the area headed to Austin this coming week.
Things actually get going today, as Blueblood heads to Milwaukee, WI to start off their southern adventure. More on the band, and their upcoming shows, after the jump.
SXSW, the country's largest music festival, is featuring more than a dozen local bands at its official showcase concerts, plus many more from the region. Here's the full list of confirmed bands so far; more will no doubt be added closer to the festival, which runs March 18-22 (and a couple unofficial days before and after) in Austin, TX. See a list of confirmed local bands after the jump.
Well, the bands are heading back up north. Geoff sent us one last howdy from the Lone Star State before they loaded up on BBQ and heaved themselves the van (I imagine). If you'd like to relive the whole SXSW Tour Diary experience, just check our archives or the Flickr set.
Subject: Say goodbye to Texas
Our last stop in Austin was at the lip-smackin' good salt lick barbecue restaurant. We sold a bunch of CDs and t-shirts last night and spent most of the proceeds on BBQ.
Our last two shows went well, and we had fun playing with track a tiger, another Chicago band.
Now were on the way to Iowa city, where we play tomorrow night with the tight phantomz. If we can scrounge up a last minute gig in Wichita or somewhere else on the way, well so that tonight.
Just when I was thinking that The Hood Internet fellows might be lost in the desert somewhere, they surface, and with loads of photos to share. Here's an update, and some photographic highlights. For more photos from The Hood Internet, and Geoff of The Debauchers, check our Transmission SXSW Tour Diary Flickr set.
OK, where did we leave off? The Hot Freaks party was awesome. We were set up at the Mohawk under a tent and did short sets in between bands all day. Got our second viewing of the mighty Blitzen Trapper, saw great sets from White Denim, the Dodos, and our pals Cadence Weapon and Weez-L. We met Matt from You Ain't No Picasso and Chris from Gorilla vs. Bear, two of the many music blogs that put together the two days of Hot Freaks. Sean from Daytrotter was there early on but skedaddled to go record bands. BLOG PARTY 2008!
Here's a roundup of Saturday's SXSW goings on from The Debauchers. I haven't yet heard from The Hood Internet this morning. Fingers crossed I don't get a phone call for bail money.
Subject: Punked by billy bragg
There's a great western clothing store next to our afternoon gig, so we decided to check out some boots and hats before the set.
Inside, we spy billy Bragg shopping for boots. He explains that he's buying everything in the place because there's a half-off sale. I start eyeing some boots and shirts, and he laughs, drolly explaining that its all half price for him because the US dollar is so cheap.
We give him a debauchers cd. I'm thrilled to have met him and flee in shame.
Subject: Best salsa ever
The debauchers place a lot of importance on our preshow meal. Last night we discovered a new kind of salsa -- a thin purée of avocado, jalapeño and garlic. Heaven.
If you've ever wondered just how to best sum up the hundreds of bands playing at SXSW, well, The Morning News has done all the heavy lifting for you. They've compiled a sharp review chart online, complete with information on every one of the 763 bands playing, and a 6-word review of the group's sound based on a festival-provided preview Torrent file. If you're standing in line right now trying to get in to see Bird Peterson or Chingo Bling, you might want to read this first.
Ah, the grueling morning after. The Hood Internet sends out another report, post Schubas party.
I am serious when I tell you that I'm still drunk from last night. ABX and I ended up rocking three different shows yesterday, only the first two were planned. We started off at the Austin Convention Center which was when I last posted. That set was fun despite a few technical difficulties. Afterwards some people doing a documentary about SXSW interviewed us, we said a lot of stupid things that will end up on the cutting room floor.
So next we met up with the homey Bald Eagle and headed down to Schubas' annual SXSW roundup at the Yard Dog gallery. When we got there, Ohmega Watts was DJing and then the Cool Kids went on. They were awesome and had people throwing their hands up at like 4 in the afternoon, which was right around when ABX and I started drinking (which didn't end until about 12 hours later, hence the first sentence of this post). We DJed in between some really good bands like Okkervil River and Blitzen Trapper. Did I mention we had some awesome shirts that said "HOOD" and "INTERNET?" We needed to be particular about the order we were standing so people didn't think we were called Internet Hood.
We chilled out for a bit (that's a lie, we totally kept drinking) and watched LOST before we headed over to the Aquarium Bar, where we agreed to play a set at 10 fairly last-minute. When we got there, some horrible band was just getting started, they were playing a variety of covers like House Of The Rising Sun, Hotel California, and some Sublime song. It was their first or second show. This dude Kyle who set the whole thing up was super cool and kept getting us drinks (and shots) and I think that's where we got exceptionally more drunk. We did about an hour set then went over to the C3/Playboy party which Matt and Tim from Schubas collectively helped us get into. Justice, Moby, and MGMT were all DJing. MGMT may have actually been playing but fuck if we remember. There was no reason to be drinking until 3:30 or whenever, but we did it anyway. Also we met Lance Armstrong, LOL.
Off to the Hot Freaks! party at Mohawk/Club DeVille. More later.
Well, the second band we asked to report back from the festival is on their way. Garage punk band The Debauchers will be playing some off-SXSW shows that will surely prove just as unpredictable and alcohol-laden as the main fest itself (see their MySpace page for a full schedule). As they drive down to Texas, we've received our first shout out back from lead guitarist, and editor of the Chi-Town Daily News, Geoff Dougherty. It's short and sweet.
Subject: The joys of Arkansas
The debauchers are at a truck stop near hope, ark., after driving all night from our show in Carbondale.
Arkansas is full of charming people who cook excellent biscuits. We've learned that sleeping in the car is not really sleeping.
We asked our friends at The Hood Internet to send us some word once they reached Austin, TX and SXSW this year. Here's our first installment from Steeve Sleeve. And hey, if you're actually at SXSW right now, you can catch The Hood Internet at these shows around Austin.
We're sitting in the "Artists Lounge" at the Austin Convention Center, waiting to drop a 20-minute set at the Day Stage. Haven't done a whole lot other than get in last night — my flight got in at 12:15 and ABX flew into Dallas/Fort Worth and drove down, so he showed up at like 5AM. I did go out for a minute last night, went to the Blind Pig on 6th because they have a deck that overlooks the street. Some band was playing up there, I think they were called the Carrots. Maybe food band names are the new animal band names this year. We had breakfast (actually lunch cause they weren't serving breakfast anymore) at a deli down the street and there was a sandwich called the Tuna Muffaletta. Aside from being a potential euphemism for the female genitalia, that could also be a good food band name. Anyway: we're about to do this shit, then later today we'll be at Schubas' annual SXSW roundup at Yard Dog. We'll take some photos.
SXSW, America's (and perhaps the world's) largest music festival, posted its list of performing bands yesterday, and Chicago bands are legion. A list of all 34 local acts -- and a bunch from within driving distance -- follows after the jump.
Here's the last post from Catfish Haven on their adventures at SXSW. The last day they were involved in the two most infamous events at this year's fest — the collapse of the balcony at the Vice party and the police closure of the IHeartComix party. These guys sure have a nose for trouble.
"I awoke Saturday morning feeling possibly the most hung-over I've felt ever. Catfish Haven drinking usually occurs in the evening but a day of free alcohol at SXSW means you can drink from noon to 4am and we did. In the drunkenness of Friday night we had lost two members of the Catfish Haven SXSW 2007 army – our 2nd guitarist Mike Lust and Timeout Chicago writer Leah (who had jumped in the van with us at the last minute the day we left Chicago and soon became one of our band of merry pranksters). I contacted Lust first and luckily he answered his cell. He had ended up partying Hot Tub style at a random Austin Texas Apartment with Chicago band Sybris. George and I went on the mission to retrieve him from the Wendy's and while we were waiting for him had to give in and eat a large Wendy's meal 'cause at this point we felt like we might die if we didn't eat. Leah's cell phone was dead but we sent her a myspace message. We know she's resourceful so we assumed she was fine and later when she finally called me we found out she was actually doing great and was at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin. She had crashed on the floor of documentary filmmaker Ron Mann who's most know for making the movie "GRASS" a film about marijuana that the catfish crew had coincidentally just watched at like 3 in the morning in Fayetteville, Arkansas earlier in the week during our tour down to Texas. George and Ryan met Ron on wed when we first arrived in Austin and he was a cool guy and gave them a private lecture about his film so we knew Leah was alright and we planned to meet up with her later.
This whole week we've been staying with our friend Caroline's house and she and her friends were throwing a SXSW backyard BBQ party with a bunch of bands including Saturday Looks Good To Me, Mittens on Strings, and us to name a few. Hung-over and hazy we rocked the backyard around 3pm and by the time we left to head to 6th street around 5pm the keg was dry, the food was eaten and the neighbors were sending noise complaints which are all the general after effects of a BBQ done right!
Catfish Haven is running neck and neck with Office for heaviest partying band from Chicago at this years SXSW. They also happen to have seen some amazing music and a couple of celebrities to boot. Here's their most recent tour diary entry:
"Thursday night we played our official SXSW showcase, it was the Secretly Canadian/Jagjaguwar party at Mohawks on Red River. We partied all night with some of our favorite SC/Jag bands like Ladyhawk, David Vandervelde, Okkervill River, and I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness. Luckly our show at noon on Friday was at the same venue so we were able to leave our equipment there overnight (and luckly when we showed back up about 5 hours after leaving it was all still there!)
So on Friday somehow the 9 of us all made it to the venue with just enough time to soundcheck and play. The show was hosted by some of our favorite blogs we met over the last year like My Old Kentucky Blog, and Gorrila Vs Bear, and our friends Thunder Birds Are Now! played right after us so we had a great time seeing everyone again.
The fire marshalls have been coming down hard on the clubs out here during SXSW and we left our equipment next to the stage (blocking a fire exit) while we did a quick video interview for Indie911. After the interview we found out a fire marshall had shown up and wanted us to move our equipment immediately. He said there wasn't enough time to pull the van up so instead we all got our workout for the day carrying our amps and drums up one of Austins many hills.
Here's another entry from Office. It seems as though the chaos, sleeplessness and partying are starting to get to them. Hopefully they'll make it back to Chicago in one piece.
"Sleeping here is almost impossible. Between nerves, adrenaline and alcohol, it's almost impossible to get a good night's sleep. I woke up early yesterday for more lousy breakfast and decent coffee and checked the listings for shows, still reeking of the chlorine of the hot tub from the night before.
Last year I had a full itinerary of shows and parties that I wanted to go to, but this year I and the band have taken the drifter's approach. We readied ourselves for our evening show leisurely, watching basketball and applying mascara. The breakfast sat in our stomachs like lead. The weather isn't as good as was advertised last week, but hey–beats Chicago, right?
The traffic in the downtown area was bloody murder, and it took us a half an hour to get down 4th on our way to the Fader/Levi's Fort. But by the grace of a cute, young Japanese couple, we found parking directly in front of the space. Subs were ingested as our eyes were covered in shades.
Badly Drawn Boy was lilting through an acoustic set as we arrived. The Fort is a huge labrinthine party space. It's probably the best party down here and it goes all day every day. That's a lot of SoCo and lime. The stage manager was hilarious and incredibly with it. Everything was highly organized and coordinated, which can be somewhat of a rarity in these situations. Another (forgettable) band played before us as we goofed around in the backstage tent, taking photos and cracking our usual crude jokes. The sun cracked through the crowds as we took the stage and looked out to a full, expansive outdoor patio. The floating saddle on my guitar popped out from under my strings during the third song, but somehow I managed to repair it on the fly.
A giant Meatwad balloon was inflated on top of the building as we played. Amy Winehouse paid us some nice compliments as we came off stage and then proceeded to belt out a sweet set of her own. Some Chicago b-boys were breakin' in the back during the djs, and it turned into Alissa and I jumping along with them chanting "Chi-town" and "Office in the house" in front of myriad video cameras. One for the grandkids!
Here's more from our resourceful band Office; they party, get free stuff and hang in hot tubs down in Austin at SXSW so you don't have to! Office play next today at 5:15 at the Fader Party at The Fort.
(Hot tub party with Office and Robbers On High Street)
"Yesterday was a banger, from start to finish. Scott and I woke up early and ate the mediocre, overpriced breakfast at the hotel, rounded up the troops and headed to our afternoon show at the Nylon/Diesel house. The house is in the middle of a residential neighborhood outside of the main festival area and was a classy little joint with a large live room and several loungy nooks.
We played to a virtually empty room (only Nylon folks and our posse were there), but it was nice to warm up in front of our friends and prepare for our big label showcase coming up later that night. After our performance we were whisked into a dressing area where they hooked us up with free jeans and did an interview for Nylon TV (Nylon Mag's webcast). The swag train led us to free sneakers and Bloody Marys after we left the day's first party and before we loaded in to the Ritz.
All of our Scratchie/New Line buddies were already there as we schlepped in our gear. There were some rousing acapella renditions of mid-90s favorites (think Candlebox and Collective Soul) as we awaited our soundcheck. After everything was deemed aurally satisfactory, we headed to 1887, a café in the swank Driscoll Hotel. We dined boisterously in the 19th Century French-bistro style dining room, riffing on Alanis Morisette's take on irony, baby names and joke immunity (Erica's new nickname is Joe Community, for her penchant for making gay jokes and liking the ladies).
We retired to our manager's room upstairs to watch The Office (isn't it ironic?), take disco naps and put our faces and wigs on. Once outfitted, I took to 6th St. to soak up the ambience and get psyched for our first really big show down here. Jesus freaks preached from their soapboxes as kids with every type of terrible haircut pranced along the main drag. I shopped for a porkpie hat and came up empty.
There's a good chance that'd you'll find Catfish Haven on any decent list of new, buzz-worthy bands from Chicago. There's also a good chance that they'd be the only trio on that list that specializes in a soulful brand of lively, old-school rock 'n' roll. The band's name comes from the trailor park where lead singer George Hunter grew up. The great American trailer park is a pretty representative symbol of the band's earnest, blue-collar sound.
So needless to say we're psyched that the band will contribute to our SXSW Tour Diary series over the next couple of days. Their four official SXSW showcases are the cream of the crop; on Wednesday they played the Chicago Metro Party with the Smoking Popes; on the 15th they play the RXRW Party; on the 16th they play at arguably the hottest party all week, being put on by Gorilla vs. Bear, at Mohawk; they'll end their stay in Austin with a bbq on the 17th playing with Saturday Looks Good To Me.
Random SXSW photo:
"We arrived in Austin around 4am on Wednesday morning. Tired but excited we all stumbled into the house we're crashing at for the week and each picked out our sleeping spots on the floor. We started our day fighting the lines at the SXSW convention center picking up our wristbands and then racing to our first show of the week at Emo's for the Chicago Metro Party. We arrive in time to see our friends in the Chicago band The M's and after we were done with our set we got to chill out, drink free beer, and watch The Smoking Popes. We all grew up going to see the Smoking Popes when we were teenagers so it was awesome to be able to share the stage with them.
After the day parties end there's kind of a gap in time before the official SXSW showcases start. We were able to fill that gap however with the help of a limousine service that was giving free ride escorted some members of Catfish Haven and some members of our Chicago allies Sybris to a Camel Cigarette sponsored party where we chowed down on free food drank more
free beer and even got free Cigarettes! SXSW has tons of free stuff up for grabs if you know where to look.
A couple of the higher-ups at Gapers Block have been down in Austin, Texas at SXSW all week chillin' and minglin'. Unfortunately for me, the grunts don't get to tag along. You're not going either, bummer. Well, we can still experience the festival almost firsthand through the wonders of the internet.
One of Chicago's finest (and most buzzed about) bands has agreed to record their thoughts, misadventures, and musical accomplishments for Transmission. Office will be our unofficial roving correspondents over the next couple of days. They get things started with these thoughts on the start of a crazy week.
"Our trip began Monday night after a beautiful day in Chicago. I was picked up around 9 o'clock after sitting on my lanai, and we loaded in to our big, red rental van. After some serious van tetris, our gear, beer, clothes, cooler and selves were able to fit inside. Erica took the first driving shift while I navigated, as Scott and Jeremy (our tech-extraordinaire) sat behind Jessica and Alissa in the second row.
Many songs were magically transmitted from electronic device to fm radio over the course of the 1,100-some-miles. Rest stops filled with American Indian knick-knacks, jerky and claw games punctuated our naps, some of us only waking to eat from the cooler of snacks.
My shift was a good chunk of Texas in the morning. Winding roads and big rigs. Jessica was my DJ/Navigatrix taking me from ambient electronic undulations to power pop. She was the lynchpin driver, pulling into a Motel 6 that was decided upon primarily for it's proximity to Denny's. We ate profusely from the well of French Slams and grey Tilapia and retreated to our adjoining boy/girl rooms in the back of the motel.
The free case of 312 from the Hideout show became crucial around 6pm, where we indulged in the original YouTube, America's Funniest Home Videos, and yes — a large cheese pizza rimmed with cheesy pustules.
"It'll start picking up around doors, which is at 8:30 or 9," the bartender assures me as I solitarily sip on a Revolution Rosa. Of course, she turns out to be right. It's a Free Monday, after all. This is the Bottle's weekly time to shine in the vibrant Chicago live music scene.