SXSW 2010

NOTE: I’ve been working on this off and on for the past few weeks, so it might not be very coherent. Pardon spelling & grammar mistakes. My health issues have gotten in the way of having any sense of productivity, but I’m happy to report I’ll have a resolution to my “medical mystery” soon!

My long awaited review of my time in Austin for SXSW. I’ve been dealing with some health issues over the last year, that I started taking more seriously late last summer and it all came unexpectedly to the forefront about 3 months ago. A recent diagnostic surgery, which I’m currently recovering from seems to have discovered the culprit of the pain I’ve been in for the last 3 months. That’s the good news, the bad is that I’ll need another surgery and it surely won’t solve my ongoing auto immune disease issues. Perhaps it might quiet them some. But enough about that, we’re talking about what I was able to accomplish at this year’s festival!!

Despite my medical mystery, it was decided that it would do my mind some good, and perhaps my body, to get to Austin and soak up some sun and some music. I’d have to do it a little more low key than the usual hectic pace, but perhaps it was a good year for change?

My first SXSW was in 1995. A different beast back then. Much more manageable and little conflict for decision making. Since 2008, I’ve returned each year armed with a rough schedule of where I want to be when, knowing that it’s really just a rough draft. I listen to just about every single mp3 available on the SXSW site, because I have to do so. I feel I owe it to the bands who’ve earned a spot to play. I’ve discovered some really great songs and bands this way. Sadly, I had to be a lot more discerning in my listening this year. When you’re not feeling well and you know you can’t get from point A to B quickly, possibilities turn in to probably not rather quickly. One of my main goals of SXSW this year was to make it not only about the music but also about the people. I don’t always spend enough time just hanging out with friends old and new. I wanted to make a concerted effort this year to spend time actually talking with not only the bands I was seeing but maybe even the other people who were watching the bands too.

In the past, I’ve broken this up into individual posts by day, but since it’s taken me this long, I’m just going to go for it all at once….

Tuesday-
I arrived mid-day on March 16 in order to be there for the annual gathering of the Postcard from Hell group. Those of us who can make it meet up for dinner and there’s usually a show at Beerland. It was down to the wire but Todd Beene from Glossary pulled through and got it set up. After I checked in at the hotel, rested up, got my badge, said hi to my friend Jen at SXSW check-in, I met up with some Postcarders pre-dinner for the initial reunion. Dinner was at El Sol Y La Luna and was a bit chaotic, as it would be when about 40-50 people emerge on a place.

We moved on to Beerland for Brent Best solo acoustic
Brent Best
he did a mix of Slobberbone and Drams songs, but from what I recall, mostly Slobberbone. He’s in the process of funding a “solo material” album of sorts that you can have for $10, you can get the details here.

Li’l Cap’n Travis was up next and I had to sit for a bit then. They played a great set, but I had to ease myself into the rock n roll!
I got to talk a bit with Kelly from Glossary and catch up with her. I don’t always get a chance to talk much to everyone, so it was nice to do so. The room was fairly packed by the time Glossary took to the stage. I got to hear some of the songs of their latest record at last year’s SXSW, and now that I’d had “Feral Fire” for some time, I was anxious to hear all the songs in the live glory.

I didn’t get many photos of Glossary, it wasn’t quite safe for me to be up front. If you ever been to a show heavily attended by PCFH crew, you’d understand! When I’m at 100%, I can hold my own, but at anything less health wise, I had to step back after a little while. And I got pushed back any way. Here’s a photo of Todd in a frenzied swirl:
Todd Beene swirl
which is a pretty good idea of what was going on…
Now mind you, this was only Tuesday night, and SXSW 2010 Music had not officially started. Glossary brought it. The room was in a frenzy, the sound was amazing and each song just tore through the room and sounded soooooo good! If you don’t have “Feral Fire” yet, what are you waiting for? trust me.
just after their set was done, I overheard someone say “The bar has been set.”
I just smiled because it wasn’t someone I recognized and a good portion of the room was filled with the Postcard contingent.
By this time in the night, it was close to 1am, Tim Easton was preparing to take the stage and while I wanted to stay, I was in a lot of pain and needed to get back to hotel and get to bed.
Last year, the last night of SXSW we had a fire alarm go off on the 17th floor and we had to evacuate at about 4am. Yes, walking down 17 flights of stairs at 4am while still drunk in PJs was fun.
This year, I got all the excitement out of the way at the beginning. As I settled in for the night, I discovered a part of the carpet in our room was soaked, presumably from the room next door. It was 2am. Thankfully, my roommates hadn’t arrived yet. I thought about waiting to move in the morning, I was tired, but I decided to call down to the front desk. What I thought was the one push button to call the front desk called 911 instead. Oh joy…so I went down to the lobby in my PJs to ask for a new room. And then I packed up ALL my stuff that I so meticulously unpacked for the week and moved.

Wednesday-March 17
I woke up relatively early to go grab some free breakfast at IFC house around 11am. While I was there, The Walkmen were doing a sound check. I found a place to sit & eat my breakfast taco and other free breakfast goodies and listened a bit.
After that, I wandered over to Latitude 30 for the Belfast Party. Fighting with Wire were first up and they weren’t quite my cuppa, so I left there, knowing that Broken Records would be playing their first gig of the week just up the street. I almost walked past at first. There wasn’t a sign, but the music from sound check made me stop. When I asked the guy at the gate, he had no idea. So I told him I was in search of specific band, I double checked my phone to check the location via google maps, and it was close enough. Then I went and asked the girls at the table if they had a list of bands playing. They didn’t. Seriously? It’s not that hard people. I’ve taught 13 year olds better promotion. Get a damn poster board, a sharpie and write band names, set times, and post it up for ALL to see. Thankfully, I realized as they started playing the first song that it was them on stage.

Broken Records

I can’t remember how I got into Broken Records, a podcast, a blog, a tweet, who knows, but I love their debut album “Until the Earth Begins to Part” and loved it even more once I got to hear it live in person. After a couple songs, I somehow attracted people asking me questions about them. I became a mini-promotions person in the crowd. It happens often. I get asked directions in cities I’m new to, I guess I have a habit of looking like I know things. I was more than happy to tell people who the band was, where they were from, where they were playing next and blah blah blah. I’ll talk to anyone about music. I got to talk with Jamie real quick afterward to introduce myself, making good on my promise to keep my SXSW low key and about the people *and* the music.

I stopped back in to Latitude 30 for some lunch and caught a song or two from General Fiasco. I think they’re adorable and I love their pop driven songs. I saw them last year too. Other than them, the Belfast party was more heavy handed musically this year though so I moved on to the Paste party to check out what was going on there. I caught a little bit of Freelance Whales, but I saw them with Fanfarlo at IOTA, so I wasn’t too concerned about seeing their full set. I caught a little bit of Joe Pug too. I ran into some friends at the Paste party and chatted a bit. Then I ran over to catch Broken Records second set of the day at the Wave. I almost missed it because I had the time down wrong, but I managed to make it in time. I convinced a friend to go too. I said hello to the guys again and it was at this point when I got my first call from one of my doctors telling me some test results all came back fine (still in pain though).

From there I went back to the Paste party to see Frightened Rabbit. I got there while Carolina Chocolate Drops were still on, and the room was packed for them. I waited for the room to clear and found my friend Adam up at the back of the room in a spot where I felt would be best for me. A good vantage point, better air flow, and I could lean on the railing
Frightened Rabbit
It was pretty far back, but I’ve seen the boys enough to know what they look like! There was quite a bit of a delay due to some sound issues, but they soldiered on and we got a modified acoustic set. It still sounded great! Count me in as one who loves “The Winter of Mixed Drinks” call me a fan girl, call me what you will, I love the songs, I love the music, they’re stuck with me. They haven’t sent me away….yet.

I think the venue time went over or something because there was this mad rush to get everyone out of the room after their set, but I managed to get up front and say a quick hello to Grant & Scott. Having spent the better part of my time around musicians, I know what hell it is to load out the gear, so I make certain to keep it quick and move out of the way until there’s more time. Sadly, while I would see them quite a few more times throughout the week, including later that night, I wouldn’t get a chance to say hello again until it was time to say goodbye on Saturday :(

I took a break back at the hotel in preparation for the night. I got another call from another doctor with test results indicating everything was fine, which clearly it wasn’t if I still had this pain in my right side! But I decided to just let it go and try to enjoy myself.

I met up with some of Postcard for Dawes at Club DeVille, and due to my height, got to be front and center, even arriving last minute!
Dawes
sadly, shortly after I took this picture, my friend, Dave, tapped me on my shoulder, whispered in my ear and told me Alex Chilton died.

what?

surely, it was some sick joke. out of respect for Dawes, I stepped back into the middle of the crowd and started looking at phones with the news on twitter and initial websites. There was about 12 or so of us. All completely stunned, in shock, silent. How do we enjoy music in the moment, knowing this news? At one point after that, the singer in Dawes, noticing something going on, asked “Is everyone having fun?” Most of the crowd cheered, we were still in shock. I think Dave apologized to him for all of us after their set was done and told him the news. It was definitely a shock to the system.

I got into Big Star through the 1992 reissues in college when I was a DJ, thanks to R.E.M. and my friends, the guys in the band Noise Museum, who were big fans. I remember those Ryko reissues had a Big Star family tree and a lot of bands I was listening to at present were influenced by Big Star. My beloved R.E.M. and Teenage Fanclub were on that family tree poster. I now wish I stole that poster!! (or at least copied it)

I pretty much planned on being at the Parish for the Scottish showcase for the rest of the night, so that’s where I headed from there. I got there as Unicorn Kid was starting. Not quite my thing. I wandered about to get my bearings, tried to find a place to sit, with no such luck. At first, I didn’t see anyone I recognized, but that all changed rather quickly. A few Postcarders showed, we chatted a bit, and I decided to indulge in a drink or two. I figured if the doctors couldn’t tell me what was wrong yet, I should enjoy myself. Just as we were preparing to move up front for Codeine Velvet Club, I got spotted by Martin from St Deluxe and we had introductions all around with Jamie, Brian, Stuart and Tam Coyle. Now this was the first time I met all of them, but it was more like catching up with old friends. It was all a bit of whirlwind from there, time flew by, I had a beer in each hand a good portion of the hour and next thing I know, Codeine Velvet Club’s set was done, my friends wondered where I’d been.

The St Deluxe boys moved on for the night and I watched We Were Promised Jetpacks from the back of the room with Tam, who kept introducing me to people left & right I could barely keep up. I knew there was no way I could be up front for WWPJ, and I while I needed to make up for missing them in DC (I spent that night in the ER, thank you very much), I decided to let the “kids” have the frenzy at the front. At midnight, I moved up to the side of the stage for Frightened Rabbit. I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to be there since that was the way back to the backstage, toilet, and probably an emergency exit, but I found a spot on the wall and made myself small.
Frightened Rabbit
I tried to stay for Hudson Mohawke & to see if I could say hi to the FR boys again, but the room was spinning by this point with my lightweight drinking combined with exhaustion and pain, so I had to call it a night. Plus, I was going to get up insanely early to see them again. yes. Frightened Rabbit Again.

I got back to the hotel to finally see my roommates who arrived earlier that afternoon. Kiki and I, despite being exhausted stayed up until at least 3 or 4am talking and catching up. We both knew better, but what can ya do?

Thursday-March 18
I think I rolled myself out of bed at about 8:15am-ish to try and make myself presentable…
I stumbled over to the Hilton for Scott & Gordon’s acoustic set:
Frightened Rabbit
It was early. I think they started around 9:45am, I wish I’d had a seat for it, but it was nice to see so many people up so early for it and I got a few new folks there to see them, even though it wasn’t a full band set.

I stayed for a couple song from Carolina Chocolate Drops before getting some breakfast to go back to my room to prep for the day.
I made it to the Yorkshire Party at Latitude 30 in time for Slow Club and Middleman.

While there I met up with the fine folks from Off the Beaten Tracks who invited me to join them for a session they were recording with Broken Records. It’s always nice to finally meet people in person when you’ve been connecting with them online for a while. Go visit their website, they’ve got some great sessions up, and did a bunch while in Austin. You can subscribe to it in itunes too! I only joined them for the one though, and here’s one photo I took:
Broken Records

I headed over to the Paste party from there and caught the end of Fanfarlo’s set. The place was packed. Afterward, I didn’t have much planned so I went back over to Latitude 30 for the Wales party and caught a bit of Sweet Baboo & Polly Mackey.

I was trying to convince some people to get to Broken Records’ gig at Bull McCabe’s and also attempting to meet up with a community media colleague still in town for SXSW film at this point. When I got to Bull McCabe’s and saw the venue by sight, I thought there was no way they could fit in there! But I managed to meet up with my friend and her fellow filmmaker for a while and chat a bit. As we were walking out, I ran into some of the Broken Records boys. Turns out the gig was canceled due the space issue and some other factors. But they were due to meet up with a radio person for an interview, so I stayed and had a pint. I guess I owe them a round. The woman they were supposed to meet up with never showed or perhaps it wasn’t meant to be with the gig being canceled, but they did show up for it! At this point it was close to 6pm.

From there I made a dash back to my room for a rest and a quick dinner. It was a quick turnaround and I needed to get back out to see The Seedy Seeds! I first learned about them from Twitter via Shiv and WOXY when they needed help with a gig in Philly, which turned out with me helping them end up with a gig at IOTA here in Arlington! I missed the beginning of their set but got most of it and they had a great crowd squeezed into BD Riley’s.

From there I trekked over to the Mowhawk to see First Aid Kit
First Aid Kit

Just like everyone else, the two sisters and their viral videos on youtube are what turned me on to them. They’re getting ready to tour the US & Canada for the first time, with some dates in June, which you can find on their myspace page. I enjoyed their set, they’re charming, have a great tone to their voices and have a great sense of humor. They’re still getting comfortable on stage it seems with the between song banter, but they comfortably shine within the music.

I headed over to Red 7 for The Heavenly States next.
The Heavenly States
I kept posting on twitter how criminally low attended the show was, but a few people showed up eventually and those of us that were there made some noise. I finally got to meet Steve from BabyStew.com, I guess I connected to him via twitter while he was still in DC through music of course, but we never met in person until we were in Austin. I got to chat with him and Matt from Pitchfork for a bit, which easily could have gone on, as it happens when people who love music get together. But we all had places to go and bands to see!!

As I made my way up Red River, I stopped in to catch a few songs from Bobby Bare, Jr at Emo’s Annex. I’ve seen him a couple times and he always makes his way through DC area, so I kept moving along toward the Bella Union/4AD showcase at Buffalo Billiards. I got there in time to catch the end of Lawrence Arabia. I then settled in for the night as I’d planned to be there for the remainder of it.

Efterklang were up next and were incredible. First time seeing them, and I’d really like to see them in a better venue. I might not be a basketball fan, but I get it. It was March Madness. However, as an official SXSW the room where the bands were playing really shouldn’t have the TVs on during the band sets. I know there’s probably little SXSW can do about it, but it was extremely distracting to those watching the band.

Broken Records were up next.
Broken Records

You might think I only took photos of them this year. It’s true, I saw them the most. I love the album and love hearing the songs played live even more. My relentless pimping of them on twitter during SXSW may or may not have paid off. But people don’t always listen to me, I just know  what I love and where I want to be.

Midlake closed out the showcase. At this point, I needed to move to the back of the room and find a place to sit. The day was catching up with me and not being 100% arriving in Austin, the week was starting to take its toll as well.

I think this was the third time I’ve seen Midlake and while I like their music on record for the most part, their live show does little to nothing for me. I’ve tried. I’ve really really tried. About half way through their set, I spotted the Broken Records boys, at the back and said hello yet again and spent the remainder of the set soaking Midlake in with them. At that point, I knew my friend Mike was up in front of the room, so I sent him a quick text to see if he’d meet me at the back to walk with me back up 6th St. amongst the masses. Usually it’s no bother for me to do it on my own, but as I developed a slight limp from pain, I thought it might be best to have someone with me. Plus, it’s always nice to have someone to chat with about the night’s activities. So once Midlake was done I said the good nights and we were on our way.

Friday-March 19

I was moving a bit slow this morning, as the week is really hitting me. And I think I’m starting to get what I call “the SXSW flu” now, but headed over to Latitude 30 for a last minute gig of Colin MacIntyre (Mull Historical Society)

Colin MacIntyre (Mull Historical Society)

I met him briefly Wednesday night at The Parish and was re-tweeting things on twitter for him all week, since there seemed to be lots of last minute changes to some of his gigs. It often happens during SXSW. It was a great set and I was very pleased to have some free tea available. I couldn’t drink enough of it.

From there I made my way over to Mi Casa for the first gig from St Deluxe at a day party. There didn’t seem to be too much going on there but Jad Fair showed to see them!!!
St Deluxe

It was a tough room for sound, but I was just happy to finally see them play and hear them.

From there I went back to Latitude 30 for the afternoon Scottish showcase. The British Music Embassy parties are always on my list, they’re run relatively well, the venue is great, even though it can get a bit crowded. There’s free drink, free food and fairly clean toilets. This year, there were no seating options, which really made sense since the odd shaped booth type seating got in the way in the past. I met up with my friends, Carol & Ged who I spotted in the corner and had some lunch & drinks with them. They were planning out the rest of their day. I was trying to convince them to stay for the end of the Scottish party for when St Deluxe & Broken Records would play back to back.

The afternoon drinking session began once the St Deluxe boys arrived from around the corner from Mi Casa. We stayed in the back a bit while Twin Atlantic, Young Fathers, Fangs, & The Law went through their brief sets. By the time they took the stage, I had a proper amount of drink and moved up to shoot some more photos and try and make some noise.
St Deluxe

I said goodbye to St Deluxe as they loaded their gear out and ended up getting stuck in the hallway behind Broken Records as they were being announced to the stage. Which prompted me to whisper joking comments to them during said introduction…can’t remember exactly what I said, but I can be amusing with a bit of drink!

Broken Records

I hiked down to Mess With Texas party to see if I could get in to see Billy Bragg and of course, catch Frightened Rabbit. I arrived to a massive line outside the fence and a bit of chaos. They were switching the entrances or something, and it didn’t seem clear. Even though it was free, they needed to check IDs, and you needed to have a wristband put on your wrist. I managed to get into some line where I became the “last” of something, which got me inside a lot sooner than many others. I think it helped that I was on my own. I don’t care the why or the how….

Billy Bragg was well into his set, but I still got to hear a good portion of it. I made my way up to the front via the side. There was a large crowd and if I was going to be up front for Frightened Rabbit, I needed to be sort of off to the side in case I needed to get out of there quickly due to suddenly not feeling well. (welcome to my world) Anyhow, Billy is an incredible performer. The only other time I’ve seen him was with Wilco at the Guinness Fleadh in NYC in 1998.
Billy Bragg

After he was done, a good portion of the crowd dispersed and I moved closer. Then the Frabbits were setting up. A couple people left once they realized they weren’t at the right stage for the band they wanted to see so then I got a spot right on the barrier, which was nice for my weary body to lean on. As the sun went down, we were treated to an incredible set from the Frightened Rabbit boys.
Frightened Rabbit

There were a bunch of people in the crowd who were seeing them for the first time and that’s always fun for me to witness. I like hearing their comments and seeing the boys win them over.

From there I got myself over to see Standard Fare and saw my friend, Steve, there. I’d hoped that maybe some of the Bar None folks would be there, as I’d met Mark previously through Oppenheimer, but I didn’t see him. I checked the attendees directory later and didn’t see him listed, so it’s possible they weren’t there this year. I missed the beginning of Standard Fare’s set, so I’m hoping that I’ll have opportunity to see them again in a proper setting. They’re streaming samples on their website.

From there I headed over to Red Eyed Fly to see Glossary. As I walked up, I saw the Two Cow Garage boys had arrived in town and were outside so I said hello. Apparently, the show was sold out to paying customers and they couldn’t get in and at this point there was a line for wristbands and badges to get in too. I went to the front room bar with them to catch up a little bit, thinking I’d be able to get inside no problem to catch Glossary’s set. After a little bit, I went to do that, and there was some sort of hold up, I could hear Glossary playing inside. There were 5 badge holders in front of me, with no sign of any movement from the door guy. I had no intention of seeing anyone else on the showcase and really just wanted to see my friends play, and if I was just going to wait in line only to get in and have them be done, I figured I might as well just go hang out with Two Cow Garage! So I sat and talked with them, asked about the new album, generally catching up, etc. I also offered up space in the hotel room for them since they might need it. Then Cody, Andy, and I went for some food and took it back to my room to just hang out away from the craziness for a bit. After the food and break, it was back out for the night.

I didn’t have much luck at this point. I was feeling pretty tired and ill, definitely coming down with some sort of cold or the “SXSW flu” but I walked over to see what and who I could find. I tried Fanfarlo and as I made my way up to the venue door, saw the line and ran into Tam. He told me not to bother. We tried Broken Social Scene but that was a mess too. I think he called it a night at that point, it was 12am now. I took a minute to look at the schedule and probably called it a night myself, but Slow Club were on at 1am, so I thought I’d trek over to Lambert’s. At first, it wasn’t too bad of a walk. Once I got closer, I was in a bit of more pain, but I’d made it that far, so why not continue? I got there and Oh No Ono were still on. They were enjoyable, but I had to find a place to sit. Apparently, the showcase was running late. It was after 1am when they finished and the switchover between bands wasn’t going smoothly. I was feeling increasingly worse and felt it best to get out of there. I will have to see a full set from Slow Club another time.

Saturday-March 20

Kiki and I set our alarms to make certain we were up for Micah Schnabel’s solo set at 10:30am
By the time Saturday comes around, 10:30am feels like 6am.
Today is also where many of us got a lesson in Austin weather. It was supposed to be sunny and 70s all week, but a front came through over night and it was cold and raining most of the night. In fact, we’d be lucky if it would be above 50F at all during the day. If I wasn’t already coming down with a cold, surely today was going to seal it.

We did our best to get moving and out the door, I was hurting pretty bad, and could only walk so fast. I didn’t want to miss any of Micah’s set, but as we got closer to the venue and I spotted him out in front from a few blocks away. We slowed down the pace a little as I commented “we’re good”

Micah Schnabel

I think this is my favorite photo I took from SXSW this year. Micah & Shane from Two Cow Garage are like family for me. A lot of bands I’m friends with are like family, but these boys are like younger brothers I’ve never had. Over the years, I’ve just been able to help them out when I can, even if it’s just by being there. It’s nice to see them finally get some momentum for the work they’ve put into their music. Micah played an amazing set to a room full of friends & I’m sure some strangers who managed to get up early on a Saturday morning. He has a solo album “When the Stage Lights Go Dim” out now on Suburban Home Records and you can listen to the stream there too! I finally met Virgil from SH!

From there, I had to go get some breakfast. I opted for a bagel at the Hilton, where The Gourds were playing in the lobby. I stopped by my hotel for a bit, then headed to Cheer Up Charlies to catch Broken Records for their final gig. On my way, I stopped at a little breakfast place, checked the menu before waiting in the massive line to see if they had hot tea only to find out once I got to the front they didn’t. I just wanted some tea to keep me warm and soothe my poor throat. sigh.

Upon arrival to Cheer Up Charlies I discovered no music, and the schedule completely altered, which completely screwed up my afternoon. This place was mostly relying on their outdoor stage and it was freezing cold outside and wet from the rain. They were going to try and move all the music inside, but the inside was no bigger than my living room. While making notes to the changes, there were some others standing there. Someone asked “who are Broken Records?” I felt obliged to answer with nothing short of a gushing review and promotion of how amazing they are! Little did I know he was covering the festival for a Dallas magazine.

With plans changed, I went back up 6th St. and stopped in Latitude 30. I missed Allo Darlin’ & Broadcast 2000, but caught The Crookes
I found myself a proper cup of tea to go and did my best to use the heat from it to keep me warm as I made my way back to Cheer Up Charlies. Things were running behind, everyone was crowded inside the tiny room. And when it came time for it, Broken Records played outside. I was shivering I was so cold, but despite the cold the sound was great, even if it did seem like we weren’t in Austin any more seeing the band play in their coats.

Broken Records

About a song or two into their set, a crowd gathered and the guy I spoke with earlier tapped me on my shoulder and thanked me. He really liked them and told me he was going to write something up about them. He gave me his band’s CD and I’ll need to follow up with him still, but as I said my goodbyes to the Broken Records boys, I couldn’t help but share my little victory!

took another break at the hotel, between feeling this cold coming on, the pain in my side, and freezing outside, I was chilled to the bone.

I went back to Friends to see Two Cow Garage and by this point, the place was packed from the door to the back. So good to see! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen them when it’s just been me and no one else, or one or two others. It’s great to see a room full of people singing along to every word of every song.

Two Cow Garage

Looking at my schedule, I only had a few things left to do before settling in at Antone’s for the night and it couldn’t have worked out better for me. I went over to the Filter party at Cedar Street Courtyard to see if I could catch the end of Frightened Rabbit’s set. Turns out, things were running behind there and I got there just as they were starting. I think there weren’t as many people there due to the weather, but I found a spot at the back above the crowd where I could soak in the music. I was still shivering from the cold, but I knew I’d be going inside soon.

Frightened Rabbit

I knew they had to pack up and get across town right away to play their final and 10th gig of SXSW 2010, but I wanted to say hello again, so I could also say goodbye! After it cleared out a bit, I made my way up to where they were loading out and said a quick hello, but it was quite a frenzy of motion. And it’s hard to keep track of everything, especially when someone’s talking to you, so as quickly as I appeared, I disappeared and said I’d see them in DC. On my way down the steps, I stopped and said a quick hello to Scott on my way out who had a short line of people waiting to speak with him.

Lucky me, next on my list was Colin MacIntyre who was playing at Fado right next door. There was all sorts of on again off again issues with this gig, but I had nothing to do until St Deluxe at 8:30 pm, and I figured I could grab a bite to eat. It seemed to be a bit of a nightmare but it all worked out in the end. I got myself some dinner. Colin and the band played a great set and won over the Saturday afternoon crowd, and I helped out when people asked me if I knew about the band and for more info, etc.

As it got closer to the 8pm hour, I wanted to make certain I was at Antone’s early. I knew it was going to be hard to get in at one point in the night, so I kept telling people to get there early. Plus, I was trying to get as many people there for St Deluxe’s official showcase slot! I got in with no issue, but it did start filling up fast. I said hello to the guys real quick, but it was close to show time, so they had to get moving:

St Deluxe

My friend, Steve was there early and he liked them well enough, which makes me happy! They played great and a good number of people in the room were into it. From this point on, the night is a blur. I spent the rest of the night in the back to the side with the guys, and didn’t really care much for the other bands before the Big Star set. Dwight Twilley was a lot fun, so that was the exception. I disliked The Postelles even more so after their set as they and their friends proceeded to stand near me and talk throughout the entire Big Star set. seriously? I was so full of emotion and a little drink, I almost said something snarky which probably wouldn’t have resulted in anything good.

I was able to re-connect with Jim McGuinn from The Current after someone who was talking with Martin spotted him. I know him from his days in Philly and when he was playing in Cordalene. It was an odd introduction at the start, but it was nice to see him again and catch up. Plus, I got to help get the St Deluxe album in his hands!

The Big Star set was amazingly emotional for me. The reissues of the records came out when I was in college and I spent a lot of time with them. I was fairly introverted in college. I never thought when I joined the radio station, I’d even have my own show. I honestly felt I would help out behind the scenes. It’s what I always did. Within a semester, I had my own show and while I was a little timid speaking on air, I realized getting over the recorded sound of my own voice would help me make a better show. I called my show The Music Asylum. Music was how I got through the trials and tribulations of life.

As different guests came out on stage to sing with Jon, Ken & Jody, it wasn’t always easy to hear what was going on, I felt there were a lot of people there who just were there because they knew it was the place to be. I know a bunch of long time fans of Big Star, Alex Chilton and even The Box Tops got shut out. I can tell you they probably wouldn’t be talking through it. It was frustrating. No matter, I held back tears at “The Ballad of El Goodo” and I thought in my head of certain times with certain songs. I didn’t know Alex Chilton personally, but the songs he’s written and sung with Big Star have been a part of a time of my life where I’ve done the most significant growth mentally & emotionally. In addition, I’m a fairly empathetic person, so I absorb a lot of different emotions around me.

When the set was over, we all wanted more, but Jon, Ken & Jody gave all they could. It’s understandable they couldn’t give us more that night. Since then some great footage has shown up, particularly some great behind the scenes footage from Jon’s wife, Michelle on her youtube page

The room cleared out rather quickly, I waited for the St Deluxe boys to collect their gear and we walked out into what felt like a crisp Autumn night in Austin. I said good night and wandered back to the hotel, with another official SXSW over. I managed to survive somehow.

Sunday-March 21

The cold weather from Saturday gave me an upper respiratory cold aka “SXSW flu” but I had to get myself up for the annual Postcard brunch at Opal Devine’s. I was running a bit ragged and felt like hell with the cold on top of the pain, so I arrived a little late for breakfast. Usually, it’s an ongoing lazy affair, with people coming and going depending on their departure times from Austin. This year it was short & sweet as many had to leave town early. I got to see the Two Cow Garage boys and say goodbye and then a few of us went to Waterloo, part of the post-brunch tradition. Afterward, I made a quick stop at the pharmacy for cold medicine supplies and went back to the hotel for a rest.

The St Deluxe boys invited me to join them for the last day in Austin, so I got myself together and headed out to meet them at Whole Foods back down across from Waterloo. On my way down I ran into Evan Dando in the elevator! So I got to chat with him for the elevator ride about Alex Chilton and he shared a story with me. It was nice & random, just me and Evan. I did a phone interview with him back in 1992 for WLFR that I have on tape somewhere. I might have to dig it up and get it into a digital file. I was so nervous and timid back then, that I asked my fellow DJ and friend, Joe to help me with it.

It took me a bit of time to walk to the Whole Foods and then find the boys inside, talk about a massive store! We went over to Waterloo from there and then back to the co-op where they were staying for their time at SXSW. Their hosts were planning a little bit of an adventure and I was tagging along. First we went to the Cathedral of Junk which is in the backyard of some guy’s house:
last day in Austin-SXSW 2010

Then our mini caravan of cars was off to Mount Bonnell
last day in Austin-SXSW 2010
which was a bit of a rough climb for me with my new upper respiratory cold, that I’d hoped wouldn’t turn into bronchitis and the good ol’ pain in my side. (I was sick with the “SXSW flu” for a good 2 weeks after returning from Austin) But I managed it, knowing it would be worth the view.

One last stop at the Capitol building…
look up
and this made me think of the Chris Bell song “Look Up” with the star at the top.

We made our way back to the house, where I ended up staying for dinner, conversation, beer and games and completely lost track of time. I missed dinner with the last of the Postcard crew in town, it was a whirlwind of a night, waiting forever for a taxi. I apparently missed the first one, and waited forever for the second one. A quick round of goodbyes, hugs and kisses all around and back to the hotel to Kiki & Steven who ordered in some pizza. So I indulged a late night snack.

Monday-March 22

Knowing I would need extra time, I purposefully scheduled a late afternoon flight. I woke up to say goodbye to Kiki & Steven, but went back to sleep quickly and slept in for a sweet sweet rest. I waited until the absolute last minute to check out too!
Took my time getting to the airport, but managed to time it perfectly, just beat the rush, and had plenty of time to get through everything and relax. On my way to my gate to find a place to sit, I saw Mike Mills walking in my direction. Since he was on his own, I took a deep breath and said hello. (Evan Dando and now Mike Mills?!) I thanked him for coming to town for the Big Star show, we spoke very briefly, but I also thanked him for helping to turn me on to Big Star, because being a fan of R.E.M. they always mentioned bands they liked, were influenced by or were into in interviews, etc I kept it short & sweet because we were in an airport after all and you never know what little time a person has. I admit I teared up a little talking about Alex Chilton, and once again, it’s not like I personally knew him, but I do have a visceral connection with music.

From there I sat down at the gate and ended up starting up a conversation with a photographer who primarily works for Rolling Stone, I think. It made time go pretty quick, which was nice.

I definitely didn’t see as many bands as I usually do at SXSW. In fact, I didn’t bother to count up this year. It’s also obvious that it was more like Scotland by South by Southwest for me, but it’s not my fault the Scots make great music! I didn’t take as many photos this year either, so it might seem that the only bands I really saw were Frightened Rabbit, Broken Records and St Deluxe if you were to look at my flickr SXSW 2010 set, but I wasn’t always close enough to take photos of bands.

Sometimes you just need to be there, listen to the music, feel it and soak it all into your body.

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