Everybody is doing something else during SXSW. Most bands I conversed with didn’t know I was writing. Most of the people in town were secret somethings. A girl struck up a conversation with me while I was waiting for a delayed bus. “I’m a publicist,” she said with an English accent. “I’m a journalist,” I responded. We shot the shit for a while until I was able to weasel out who her client was. She made me promise not to tell you WHO her client is, but he is someone WHO was extremely influential on British rock and roll, and WHOse guitar work and lyricism has been praised for over 40 years.
Then, she yelled at the bus driver for an uncomfortably long amount of time for running late. Modesty.
I wandered down Guadalupe (the locals don’t pronounce the “e”) until I head the distinctive sounds of a punk rock floor tom fill. My interest peaked, I found a band called Wax Idols set up infront of an Army Navy store, behind the authentic Vietnamese humvee. Waterloo Cycles, the neighboring business, had booked a whole day of outdoor shows and free beer starting the Bay Area all girl four piece. The girls told me they were “easily google-able,” but I wasn’t able to find any streaming music besides this video. OH WELL! They were really rad, though.
With traffic at almost a stand-still, I decided to walk the 3.1 miles to my next gig and enjoy the 81 degree weather and my quality day drunk.
I passed a nice looking place named Dive Bar (also, major props to having all ages shows) when a stranger stopped me and told me to listen to who was inside. The man on stage was New York’s own Louis Logic. I only managed to catch two of his songs and I was very impressed. Hip hop experimenter raps while playing his own keys and alternates between his flow and singing chorus that you would think there were two people on stage. Louis is working on his first solo endevour in seven years with his significant other providing the percussions and additional instruments. His last song, titled “A Day Late and a Dollar Short” really resonated with me and I managed to find a quality live recording from a show at Brooklyn’s Union Pool last month. I am a sucker for a good lyricist and white Macbook.
At this point I had only made it about 10 blocks from where the bus dropped me off, meaning I still had over two miles of walking to do. I had to re-beer twice to make it as far as I did, and the ends justified the means. I wanted up to what seemed like an old barn-turned-venue off the beaten path named the Fort. to the right of the venue was a park with an open field with hip kids in skimpy clothes drinking in public right next to young adult baseball game, to the left was a roller derby game in a reel roller hockey rink, and in front was this baby:
A ’78 Camero with an Autobot symbol on the hood and Transformers etched across the tint of the wind shield. I feel like I had gone back in time to Dazed and Confused. Thank god my friends, the Numerators, were here to make me feel at home. Numerators are the brothers Sammi and Burgers Rana on guitar and drums respectively, and their friend Caroline on bass. The Texas-turned-Brooklyn psychedelic surf group sing about dogs, pizza, and all around good times with good people. Sammi, the singer, pulls his stage persona out of nowhere, letting his long hair cover his face as he shouts in a way I can only describe as a rooster. They have 3 small releases available for download at a name-your-own-price rate on Bandcamp.
I swung my way over to this mildly Clash-themed bar, The Brixton, that I had been hearing about all week because it was on Bar Rescue. It was a very cool bar with a huge patio out back where they play shows. Appropriately enough, the Brixton was hosting a punk showcase.
The first band I caught was Ontario’s own post-hardcore outfit, Single Mothers. Lead singer, Andrew Thomson announced it was his birthday and he had been drinking all day hoping to make it the best birthday ever. He then flew across the audience and laid on the floor to sing. Their hard rock riffs are really catchy but the beauty here is Thomson. His style of singing is a strained yell that goes back before metalcore and the 90s. He actually reminded me of a young Ian McKaye when he fronted Minor Threat. Check them out on Bandcamp.
Some dude got thrown out of the show for I don’t know what and ran around the back of the venue and climbed the fence, flipping the bird to security. The band loved it. How punk is that?
I met up with my brother and his friends to go see Thee Oh Sees play at the Hotel Vegas. If you’ve never heard Thee Oh Sees, they are this crazy grunge-surf band from California that record new songs about six times a day. They have been playing together for over a decade in some capacity and they have an immense following of young weirdos and freaks.
Of course, that meant a line around the block to get into the backyard-sized stage.
We waited for only a few minutes before some punk-rock-Robin-Hood opened the emergency exit we happened to be standing by. About 25 people quickly ran in through that tiny door, charging as quickly as we could to the stage under a tent as security gards shouted at us. The sand kicked up everywhere under our shoes as we dove into a sweaty crowd of nimrods hidden in a filthy smokescreen.
Thee Oh Sees rhythm section, including Petey Dammit, with his skin-tight short-sleeve button up and an intimidating amount of tattoos up to his neck, plays the catchiest bass lines imaginable on an oddly tuned guitar. It’s what keeps the kids dancing. And dance they did. When it was time for “The Dream,” a seven minute song that felt like at least an hour, people went insane. The problem with having a show under a tent is that no one treats the tent for what it is, a structurally-unstable awning to protect dangling electrical equipment from humidity. Kids were trying to climb the wobbling poles and throwing beer cans at the lights. Crowd surfers were colliding into each other, grabbing onto the slick poles and attempting to hang upside down until their brains overdosed on blood. I showed my brother how to leap off of a tent-stake and use that momentum to head-walk. Interesting thing about songs without lyrics, once you get up in the air there is always this weird self-aware moment of “what do I yell?”
My buddy, Gabbo, who was actually in town to manage a band, went blind with rock and tried to climb a man twice his size. His feet slipped and jumped in to help him, only to end up being the single person physically supporting his crowd surf. I managed to extend the charade for about 3o seconds before he toppled over. As he fell, I turned inward to catch him. Gabbo landed on top of my arms as my knees crashed onto the sand, slicing them open in order to protect his beautiful spine. It looked like we were about to make out. We probably should have. Moments later, I was kicked in the testicles by a transvestite and I had to sit down.
Eventually, our other friend, Vinny, was thrown out and we all made our way back to the Brixton for another round of Lonestars and another Diarrhea Planet show. I liked that band so much, I actually saw them a third time, right after Green Day and before I got back on the plane to New York. That show, two of the band’s four guitarists climbed the metal scaffolding to harmonize for their last song. It was a fitting end to an insane week of partying, rock and roll style.
Oh, and Gabbo broke a lamp at the Brixton. Hopefully they’ll fix it next season on Bar Rescue.