I think sufficient time has expired between the booze-fueled dance parties of last week and the vague sense of ennui of this week to finally get around to doing my sxsw write-ups. I tend to want to put sxsw behind me every year after it's over; it always seems like a bit of a losing battle to capture exactly how I feel as I wander along the streets I used to call home, catching snippets of flirtations and heartbreak and desperation and always, always, the feel of music pouring out from every corner to cruise along my skin. But then when I don't write it down, I tend to forget it all in a month anyway, so that I can't even remember essential things like exactly what Ginger Fratelli said to me when he was trying his best to woo me. So recaps it is.
Your father's writing me all the time/He says he just wants to say hi/I send him Out of Office Auto Replies.
After thinking that I was going to be the late one (I'm always the late one), it turns out that I got to our hotel a full half-hour before Courtney did. So I waited for her in my car and listened to Jens Lekman singing to Nina about her father. While I was waiting, I studied the other characters in our hotel - there was one who looked just like Donny Tourette who I ended up seeing out and about all week. Sadly it was not actually Donny Tourette, whom I adore for being so fantastically rubbish. Courtney FINALLY showed up, and we proceeded to talk about stalking Russell Brand through the streets of Austin while we got changed. Then we were off to the convention center to pick up Courtney's badge and my wristband. I thought it might be crowded, but check it:
Very few people were in line.
While Courtney was getting her badge, we saw Elijah Wood. He is really short, y'all. I mean, I know that's what everyone says when they first see Elijah Wood in person, but he is RLY short. He is wee. Poqueno. Petite. Pixie-like. However, he totally seemed like an awesome, regular guy - he was getting his badge himself and waiting in line and not pounding away on his iPhone (unlike yours truly, who was totally trying to mobile-blog the fact that I was standing mere inches away from Frodo). Also I found out that his label reps The Apples in Stereo, and I love them. So, in summation, Elijah Wood has it all over my celeb-encounters from last year, who were all douchebuckets.
remember me/honestly i don't/remember who you are
After getting our respective credentials, I dragged Courtney over to the austinist/gothamist party at the Mohawk so that I could see my one true love, Liam Finn, play. We got there a few hours before his set, so I quickly got down to the most essential part of sxsw business:
In case you've never been inside the Mohawk, it looks sort of like this:
Pretentious music snobs come extra.
The first set of the week that we caught was Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit, who have sort of a traditional sound which has been given rock sensibilities. I really liked them and when I got home, I instantly legally purchased everything I could find for them. Also, despite being twelve, Johnny Flynn is totes cute:
You can tell from the angle on this shot that I had yet to make it to the front of the stage, but never fear! My powers of persuasion are strong indeed. Also I've learned that after you manage to smuggle in a dSLR without a press pass (srsly, next year? I'm getting a press pass for my camera. I got nothing but grief from the door all week. I even tried to buy one off a photog, but nothing doing.), people seem to think you're a professional photographer and will totally give up their front-row spots to let you get better photos. This worked out well for me all week, actually.
After Johnny Flynn, Phosphorescent came on. I'd never heard of these guys, but it was clear the audience had, because they went nuts for them. There was an inebriated fellow to my right who would clutch the bassist's monitor and sort of sway back and forth to a beat known only to him. Then he would offer up his own vocal interpretation of the song lyrics, punctuated with a lot of "yeah"s and "UH"s. And then he'd use the monitor as a base for pogoing, even though the music of Phosphorescent is not what I would recommend for bouncing up and down.
This is a picture of the lead singer from Phosphorescent:
In case you're invested in BeardWatch '08, I must say that this fellow's beard did not impress me as such. I think it's just a little too crazy. Calm down, buddy, BeardWatch '08 is not a competition (Note: BeardWatch '08 is TOTALLY a competition.); the quality of the beard is more important than the quantity. Let's just tone it down some, okay? And maybe invest in some concealer.
Next up was my number one, can't-miss act and also the man to whom all other men pale in a race for my affections, Mr. Liam Finn. I am not going to continue to go on and on about Liam Finn in this blog, I promise you (liam, call me!), since we've already discussed him, but I did want to show you EJ Barnes's shoes, for they are awesome:
Yes! Red, sparkly Converse All-Stars. Like if Oz had a street basketball team. She told us that she'd gotten them for free, just for singing with Liam, which is probably the second best perk she could get for singing with Liam - the first obvs being that she gets to give him a cuddle whenever she wants.
Right. Moving on from Liam Finn. I mean it. Right . . . now.
in the meantime let me tell you that i love you/buona sera, signorina, kiss me goodnight
Okay. After the show was over, Courtney and I went over to Jamie's, which is just next door, and ate dinner. She had chicken mole and I had verde enchiladas. And, of course, sangria:
Mmm, delicious sangria; nectar of the gods.
After dinner, we wandered over to Antone's for the Domino showcase, but paused on our way to take over a haberdashery:
I really wanted this hat, but it was 70 dollars and Courtney pointed out that I do, in fact, live in Texas and would never need it. But it was so comfy!
On our way over to Antone's, we randomly ran into Dev of Lightspeed Champion doing a stand-up interview for MTV. He talked at length about Vampire Weekend and tried to sell us a joke with the punchline "A-Punk." It was about as terrible as you would imagine. I love Dev, though; I saw him everywhere last week and he was always friendly and happy. All through the interview, this guy standing next to me in a blue-striped sweater was laughing, and then when it wrapped up, he stepped up to talk to Dev:
Why, it is John Norris! That was very strange for me. One just does not expect to run into Skeletor on the streets like that. I mean, I grew up with John Norris. Running into him on the sidewalk outside Antone's would be like if Kurt Loder came to my door to sell my Girl Scout Cookies. It just doesn't seem right.
But John Norris was actually very nice and friendly, and so I almost feel bad about spending most of my formative years writing tortureporn screenplays in which he starred as the evil, scarred villain who is so ashamed of his own terrible visage that he must lift the skin off pretty blonde girls. Almost, but not quite.
We got to Antone's and there was already a line, but we happened to run into some friends there, so we snuck into their spot. Whoever was running the show at Antone's that night was perhaps not well-versed in the whole idea of sxsw, as they didn't open the doors until ten till 8 pm. By that time, the folks with badges were lined up around the block, and I knew there was no way a lowly wristbander like myself could get in. So I hied myself down to the We Dreamed America showcase at Latitude 30, where I'd heard of a grand total of 0 bands performing, but figured there might be English people to chat with.
It actually turned out to be a pretty good choice - the music was all Americana and roots, but for the most part performed by UK people, who definitely had a purer interpretation of the music than their American counterparts would. The highlight of that show were Kitty, Daisy and Lewis, a jump and swing band from London. They're a family band, which is always sort of creepy, but I think maybe it cuts down on the possibility of any Fleetwood Mac-ian shenanigans going on. God, one would hope. At any rate, the eponymous members are all still teenagers and they were going to town on their instruments. It was totally a dance party, as captured here:
That man in blue up front is Joe Lean of Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong and I am here to tell you, the boy likes to dance. Badly, but who cares when he's that cute?
"despite being a racist homophobe, he wasn't a bad guy."
It seems like every year at sxsw, I'll have a random encounter with someone which will determine the course of my entire week. For example, last year Ginger Fratelli randomly walked up to me in a bar (there's a punchline to that, somewhere) and then we ran into each other approximately 200 times in the week. Which was lovely for me, because, see below in re: scottish, bearded, ginger bassist. Especially scottish bearded ginger bassists who like to whisper things in my ear.
At latitude I randomly ran into various members of popup, and as I've just been texting a friend of mine who was at their Dallas show last night and is traveling to Austin even now, I think it's safe to assume they were my "jesus christ, this town is small" band of the year. Popup are everywhere; it's a testament to their Scottish charm that I'm not completely sick of them already. I don't know if I can say the same from their end, as I fear they were beset on all sides by myself and my vast network of friends, but if they're tired of us, they're hiding it with good grace. Extremely good grace in some cases, from what I hear.
the resentments ride high/but emotions won't grow
The last act of the evening was Alabama 3, who I guess sing the Sopranos theme song. I don't watch the Sopranos (a quote from our gingerbiscuit about the Sopranos pops into mind - "It is possible to be a decent, upstanding citizen in today's America. Obviously you have failed, but . . . ") so I had no idea who they were, but it was clear that I was the only one. They were okay, but to be honest I was a little thrown by the visual of a small Asian woman and a man who thinks he's Lou Reed singing country music. Also, there are clearly four people in Alabama 3:
They started things off with a cover of uncle Ian's "Love Will Tear Us Apart." I might have to legally purchase that as it's sort of my thing to have as many cover versions of that song as I can find. But for the most part, I wasn't all that impressed, so when Courtney showed up at quarter after one and suggested we call it a night, I concurred.
And so ends day one of SxSW, which is already fading from my memory. That's the after-effects of too much free beer.