Mikey Goes to Austin
Wednesday, March 18
Greetings race fans,
My name is Mike Spine and for the next five days I will be doing my best to offer you my perspective on the legendary music festival in Austin, TX known as South by Southwest.
My goals at this event are:
- Provide “man on the street” coverage for NadaMucho.com
- Network with other like-minded individuals
- Perform and sell CDs
- Intake some much-needed vitamin D
- Help host the South by Seattle showcase Saturday the 21 at the Palm Door with Blue Scholars, Common Market, Past Lives, Barcelona, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, New Faces, Mt St Helens Vietnam Band, Dynah, and Hey Marseilles.
- Consume my airline ticket price in free food and beverage for the next five days while hanging out with new and old friends.
It’s 5.30 a.m. and I already have a Caesar salad and slice of pizza under the belt. I’m running on two hours of sleep and the plane is boarding. More details soon.
Made it onto the plane with my socks, underwear, CDs and mini-guitar and am awaiting lift-off. While generally Americans travel with way too much nonsense, I will say that these new bag fees are not very musician-friendly.
A little about me while time is killing us. I was born in Seattle and left screaming at the age of 18 looking for new terrain, right as the Seattle music scene exploded.
I bounced around to the sunny cultural wasteland of San Diego for two years, the fruit filled orchard of Portland for several years, then to New York City for a year, back to Seattle for a few, then to London and other parts of Europe for a year, and now I’m back in Seattle.
As an ex-journalist, musician, and label operator I have a decent pulse on the music scene, but I will not lie to you and pretend that I know all the nooks and crannies of this gigantic industry. I am not a hipster, schmoozer or boot licker, so if you are looking for a romanticized view of your favorite band, I am not likely your man. I will, however, try to be fair and honest about what I see.
From what I have scene in my 15 years in music, it turns out its much like life – it’s all about who you know. It’s being in the right place at the right time with the right people. I have apparently known most of the wrong people in the wrong places.
Okay. The flight is supposedly leaving.
Thursday, March 19
Met a kind hearted woman named Teri from Portland in the airport in San Jose. We chatted about Portland and the city’s music scene, and she offered me a ride from the airport. Around us were Portland hip hopper Mic Crenshaw, Common Market, Romance, and a bunch of other folks I sort of recognized.
It was 82 degrees when we arrived in Austin. Teri’s friend Joetta picked us up and drove insanely into the parking lot that was inner Austin. They dropped me near the strip and I strolled through en route to my 7 p.m. date with Iron Maiden.
Okay, I know you what you are saying: Iron Maiden? Yes, Iron Maiden. There’s a new documentary called Flight 666 running at the festival this year, and if you were ever remotely a fan of Maiden or 80’s metal, or are a fan of documentary, you must SEE THIS FILM.
After crying and smiling my way through it, I headed over to meet my new friends Teri and Joetta at a club called Emo’s to try to see the Circle Jerks. Unfortunately Teri’s insider track did not pan out, so they took me over to see some non SXSW punk shows at a venue called Beer Land. Austin bands The Ape Shits and The Chumps (who supposedly have been around forever) played some solid classic punk. Nothing earth shaking, but enjoyable if you like that Stooges (The Ape Shits) or Ramones/Sex Pistols (The Chumps) style of rock n’ roll.
I also spent a good hour working with two Austin cops to get a girl’s keys back from her boyfriend. She was wacked out on DMT and he was sitting in the back of a Patty Wagon (racist term, I know, but what else do you call those things?) with a busted jaw, so let me just say it wasn’t a fun experience. But I did my good deed for the day and kept more folks from getting arrested.
Soon I was tired and tried to head to my sleeping spot, only to find out my host had turned into a freak (I am trying to be polite) and did not want me there anymore. Fun. Homeless and alone in an unknown town.
I asked Teri if she knew anyone and eventually this character named Mike offered up a couch. Mike was a nice guy who liked to talk, drink, and consume other substances.
The girl who was wacked on DMT apparently had taken a liking to Mike and wanted us to go to her house. Mike said no, but invited her to his house. A BAD idea, and fortunately he lost her and her lunatic friends while racing his giant, noisy K5 Chevy Blazer down the highway.
We chatted, had some drinks and I crashed on the couch around 3 a.m.
I woke up around 9 a.m. today, met another roommate named Michael (what’s up parents naming kids Mike and Michael?) and another dude named Riley who is a sound man and production manager. We ate mediocre Tex-Mex and then he dropped me off near downtown.
Seattleite and Fleet Foxes drummer J. Tillman happened to be playing a solo acoustic set. He was heavily bearded and his set was sparse and mellow. Not life changing, but better than the dudes who played before and after him, one of whom was reading off a music stand (really, you’re playing at SXSW and your reading off a music stand?)
Later I ran into Adrian and Siobahn from Seattle band Motorik and ran around town for a while.
Now I’m heading to a showcase where J. Mascis (of Dinosaur Jr. fame) is playing with Earthless, a metalish band that comes highly recommended by Nada High Potentate Matt Ashworth, who generally hates metal. Here’s hoping I get in. Kisses!