Mikey Goes to Austin Part 3
March 21-22, 2009
March 22, 1 p.m. Ahmed and I walked a hot mile into town yesterday from the sleeping spot and caught a goofy Austin band called Wicked Pro Wrestler on a porch. Then we caught a bit of a Swedish showcase that didn’t move me while waiting for San Diego instrumental metalish band Earthless with special guest J. Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. It was loud, heavy, with long songs that were noodley and Sabbathy on and off. It was good but some lyrics and variety would have made it more interesting.
We wandered out of there and met an Oakland hip hopper named Balance who is playing a show Saturday night with NYC band the Dead Prez. He pointed Hi-Tek out to me – a hip hop artist who has produced songs for Talib Kweli, Mos Def and Snoop Dog. Balance was a friendly guy and an acquaintance of lyrical genius Boots Riley from The Coup, who is one of the few hip-hop bands in my music collection. I look forward to checking out his stuff when I get home. Next we went into a hip-hop show and ended up standing right by Hi-Tek for high energy Atlanta act rock/hip hop act Bobby Ray.
We cut out of there pretty quickly and wandered a few blocks out of the city center to a nice mellow outdoor venue across the freeway and met up with Dan from Solyoni and his fiancée Vanessa. A Tennessee band played a fairly average rock set while we sat at our picnic table and eating, drinking and talking.
I got up earlier than I wanted this morning to help out with SXSeattle. I am really worn out right now and struggling to make it through the whole showcase. This festival takes a lot of stamina and pacing. Hey Marsielles opened the affair with a solid, unspectacular set similar in style to the Decemberists. I didn’t pay much attention to Dynah; they were easy to ignore. Then Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band did their energetic angular rock thing and now I’m out on the porch writing, so I missed the New Faces.
March 22, 2 a.m. I made it through the rest of the SXSeattle showcase, but I was definitely not in my prime. Two ex-members of the Blood Brothers now live on as Past Lives, but I only caught a few songs as I needed to get out of the club for a while. Eight hours is a long time to be at a show. The youngsters in Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head seemed to have the biggest draw of the day. They discoed and electro-popped the crowd in to a sweaty frenzy. Common Market and Blue Scholars are two respected Seattle hip-hop acts that share a DJ, so they performed overlapping sets. I was standing very close to the front and the bass was practically bouncing me off the floor. Both acts had good crowd response, but it was not packed like we Seattle-ites would have hoped.
As the showcase ended, Ahmed and I decided to head out to check out a new part of town called South Congress about a mile away on the tip of Dan of Solyoni. En route we stopped at a place he knew called Aussie’s for some sandwiches and fries. Then we backtracked a bit to watch the largest urban bat colony in the North America fly out of crevasses in the Congress Street Bridge to consume millions of insects for the evening. According to my sources, there are an estimated 1,500,000 Mexican free-tailed bats that summer under this bridge and eat 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects each night. We stopped at larger outdoor venue called SXSJ (South by San Jose Hotel) and watched 15 minutes of a rootsy rock band called Fastball. They had a big crowd and folks seemed to be enjoying it, but it didn’t do much for me. Even thought Kanye West was supposedly playing a secret show Saturday night, Ahmed and I were beat so we headed back to his place for a quiet night.
Speaking of “secret shows,” Metallica (the band Matt Ashworth refers to as “the biggest corporate rock republicans of all time”) played a secret show at Stubbs, apparently to promote their new video game. Rumor was that Jane’s Addiction re-united (don’t they keep breaking up and re-uniting?) last night somewhere too, and I am sure there were more of these secret handshake shows going on for those who have badges, insider trading skills, and know Bernie Madoff.
I might try to break out of my shy turtle shell tomorrow and finally do some busking. I don’t mind playing in front of hundreds of people, but I like to have other people and sounds around me. Maybe I can hook up with one of those guys playing buckets on the street for some accompaniment. Or maybe I will try to go to the beautiful Barton Springs (one of only two places in the world I have traveled where someone tried to mug me, the being the Baltimore Greyhound station in 1992) and get in a swim in some crystal clear water. Hasta manana amigas y amigos!