26 March 2009

"a backstreet lullaby"

SXSW Day 2 (Thursday) dawned bright and early. Too bright and too early, thanks to the giant window in my hotel room which, because I am lame, did not have the curtains closed. Actually, I didn't close the curtains once during the entire week, and while that may seem pretty dumb, I sort of think if someone has a telescope trained specifically on the window of 603 at the Embassy Suites, they can see whatever they'd like.

Armed with a mimosa-to-go, Courtney and I decided we wanted Actual Food. A few years ago at south by, I came up with a new rule: must consume one sit-down meal a day. Preferably with something green in it. Man cannot live by Roppolo's alone. So we ate at the fairly new (I think? Wasn't there last time I drove by it) tex-mex restaurant near 4th and Lavaca. I had ceviche! Which, as you may very well know, is a biological imperative to keep my body functioning at optimum levels of contentment.

After that, Courtney really wanted to go down to Trophy's, on So Co, to see The Gin Riots perform. So off we went!

A quick note on Trophy's: They had no cold dos equis. This is of course a travesty. I mean, it was okay, there was Shiner 100, but MY GOD, PEOPLE. This is Texas. WE HAVE A REP TO PROTECT. No dos equis is like a tex mex restaurant saying, "Sorry, we ran out of queso." It just shouldn't happen.

The band playing before The Gin Riots was a band called Here Holy Spain. I do not understand from whence their title springs. I have nothing at all to report on them, except that they SEEM nice, even if their look didn't exactly match their sound. It was sort of like watching the musical equivalent of drinking water. I don't mean that in a rude way. Water is important. They just did nothing for me.

But the next act, London's The Gin Riots, certainly did. You guys, this band is sheer fun. I'd heard their single, "The Polka" before, and it's a fun, dance-worthy tune. So it came as a nice treat that the rest of their set was just as fun and dance-worthy. Courtney, in fact, did dance. I mostly took photos. Can you blame me? These boys are pretty:

The lead singer, Guy, has a sort of Elvis Presley-meets-Mark Bolan swagger,which I realize is giving him far too much credit as it stands now. But he was a pleasure to watch. And the members of the band were a pleasure to speak to, which Courtney and I did after their set. The conversation quickly jumped from "nice to meet you; are you enjoying Austin?" to an in-depth discussion about the last cycle of America's Next Top Model and the rape of dead squirrels. I would like to say that this is an unusual turn of events, but to be honest, it happens to me a lot.

Here is a video of them performing "The Polka" which doesn't really doesn't show their stage presence very well, but is good quality:

After we left Trophy's, it was time for that most sacred of So Co traditions: cupcakes. I actually didn't go to Sugar Mama's that day (IKNOW, I KNOW. But don't worry, that's coming.) but rather just skipped across the road to Hey Cupcake:

Later on in the week, I was walking down Sixth street with a British person I had met, and we happened by the Hey Cupcake trailer, and he said "everything that's wrong with america can be summed up by the idea of a travelling cupcake caravan." That is a stone-cold true statement, if you replace the word "wrong" with the word "amaaaazing." I wish Sugar Mama's had a travelling cupcake caravan. And that it would travel to my office.

Sugar in our bellies, Courtney and I ventured onwards and upwards, back to downtown. The plan was to go to Latitude and see Frank Turner perform. Frank Turner is a British singer/songwriter, notable (for me, anyway) for having a song called "Thatcher Fucked The Kids." I enjoy songs which are both political AND about ol' Mags, so I knew I'd like Frank Turner. Except he didn't play the song! What the eff, Mr Turner?

Here is a photo of Frank Turner, and Courtney:

Why are you doing that with your hand, Frank Turner? You're not cute enough to get away with douchebaggery. Pretty much no one is.

At Latitude, before Frank Turner's set, Courtney and I happened to meet a SuperFan for a man who was playing guitar for Frank Turner. (Like many overseas solo musicians, Turner hired a local band to perform backup.) Constantly bordering on the verge of SuperFandom myself (seriously, do not mention the words "Yeti," "Pulp," or "The Libertines" to me - you will live to regret it.), I'm always interested in talking to SuperFans. What is their motivation? How far have they travelled? Why do they exist? I am not going to cast aspersions on the actions/motivations of this particular SuperFan; however, I will say that, because I am a selfless human being, I manipulated SuperFan into switching places with Courtney so that Courtney could get closer to Frank Turner. You can thank me later, Courtney!

Frank Turner's set was over, and it was time for Courtney and I to part ways! I was going to go over to the Mohawk to see Bishop Allen, but quickly changed my plans when I saw the line to get INTO the Mohawk. Some other time, Bishop Allen! Instead, I went to Elysium, where Aqualung and Ed Harcourt were playing.

I feel I should pause for a second and explain that I'm not ACTUALLY obsessed with British people, despite my taste in music, cider and, perhaps, boys. I just try to plan my sxsw schedule to see bands I won't otherwise see throughout the year. Lots of North American bands, as well as some from other countries, will come tour Texas. British bands, on the other hand, have some sort of fatwa against touring the southern states of America. So I grab the chance to see them when I can, which is usually sxsw.

Moving on, I arrived at the Elysium, grabbed a drink, and immediately was hit with a wave of sxsw-related fatigue. All I wanted was easy access to booze and a place to sit down. The perfect place was on the stairs, next to where the artists were storing their equipment. This led to Aqualung bashing me in the head with his guitar case. THIS led to an unfortunate joke I made later in the evening to some of my friends, likening the guitar case to a bunny slope and me to Natasha Richardson. Too soon?

Around this time, I received a text from a guy I'd met previously in the evening, and he came over to meet me. We drank and listened to both Aqualung* and Ed Harcourt, and I wasn't too impressed with either act, but then again, I was drunk and busy talking to a cute boy, so what can you do? Maybe someday, Ed Harcourt. Maybe someday.

From Elysium, I went over to Maggie Mae's, where I had no idea who was playing, but I did know that I could stand on the roof and take in the great Austin night air. It all seemed perfect until I had to look for the restrooms, and realized that I had to WALK ACROSS THE STAGE to get to them. What an insane set up, Maggie Mae's. I do not want to be a member of a band just because I have to go to the bathroom. Besides which, if I'm going to be onstage with any band, it's going to be one of these:

Unexpected Bassist
Secret Baby and the Big-House Bruises
What Are Your Thoughts on Yaoi?
The Funky Meercats

These, by the way, are the band names that I have come up with over the years. They can't be any worse than Natalie Portman's Shaved Head.

I have to say that I actually didn't see any bands past 11 pm on Thursday night. Instead, I wandered around Austin in the guise of showing it off to someone else, spent time at a church, and, in typical Klutzy Erin fashion, managed to totally eat curb whilst trying to catch a taxi. (my knee is still skinned) In typical sxsw style, though, it's the down time, the moments in-between, which fill up the expanse of memory. I may not remember the exact hook to a song I heard, but I will always remember the breeze against my face on the roof of Maggie Mae's, the heat of the sun pressing insistantly against my arms earlier that day, or the feeling of a warm hand holding mine. I call South by "magic time," and it is, but everything that's magical about it is merely the exaltation of the mundane. I just appreciate it more during that week than I do any other time.

* I originally typed "Aqualunch" which is so good that I'm going to claim it as another possible band name.

SxSW Stats for Day Two:

Hours Slept: 3.5
Acts Seen: 8
Acts Loved: 2 (ooh, slow day)
Drinks Consumed: 12 (5 of which were bought for/given to me)


Meredith said...

"but everything that's magical about it is merely the exaltation of the mundane": beautiful words, and utterly true. I know you don't approve of the fact that my SXSW is ACL, but you just gorgeously summed up precisely what I love about it.

Yay Aqualunch! Also maybe Frank Turner is being ironically douchebaggy? He is DEFINITELY cute enough for that. Mmm.

Erin said...

he IS pretty cute, no lie. and fun to sing along to.

Rebecca said...

Frank Turner! I love him! Met him in Manchester and he shook my hand and told me I was lovely.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking I need to get some Gin Riots music sooner rather than later. Kinda like Fratellis and Babyshambles, but I can't really think of anything wrong with that. And CUTE. Does he play the guitar, though, or just sing? Because...I need to know these things.

Also, too bad you didn't get to Bishop Allen! But I think their shows have been kinda packed since Nick & Norah. See them when you get a chance, though, you should. Just remember. The bassist is mine.

Erin said...

I can confirm he also plays the guitar. And is quite lovely. Feel free to crush away, Jandy.

(also everyone knows that all bassists - even those in bands i've never seen - are mine. I have pre-claimed all bassists ever. Unless they are in U2 or Fall Out Boy. You can have those.)

Rebecca, you ARE lovely!

Anonymous said...

I refuse to acknowledge your bassist claim unless and until you and I physically fight it out AT a Bishop Allen concert. You will probably take me in such a fight, but since you can't even make it to see them once, and I've seen them twice (with the autographed albums to prove it), and we're 2000+ miles apart geographically, the occurrence of said fight seems unlikely. Therefore, bassist mine.

Meredith said...


Happy birthday, lady! The word verification for your birthday is "asturf" which I absurdly enjoy.

Meredith said...

Where's Day Three! Don't leave us hanging!

Anonymous said...

Aah, I'm sorry you didn't like us. It was nice that you remembered our name though, and I appreciate the shout-out (even if we are like drinking water). I was also blown away by the Gin Riots, not just because of their music, but because they were such sweet guys. I'll admit I had a crush too.

Erica G.