South By Southwest Day 2.5

naked raygun

Naked Raygun

Yes day 2.5. The days go from about noon to 3am. Or that’s when I start realizing I’m seeing some band I should be writing about and scratch some notes in my book with a some note that says “remember this,” and nothing else to reference what I’m supposed to be commiting them to memory. Day two began in the hotel restaurant/bar where I ordered a salad and a bloody. The salad was terrible, big chunky unripe avocados instantly turned my stomach. Who needs food when you’ve got the unsullied dreams of thousands of musicians filling every nook and cranny of every place you turn right?

I headed to the convention center to see if I could get a press tag for my video camera since I got denied at Van Morrison the night before. Inside the Austin Convention Center is where you will find the ‘Exhibition’ space for SXSW. It’s a veritable who’s who of ‘who cares’ with the exception of some amazing guitar companies, like Taylor Guitars (plug). Companies that have 10×10 booths selling everything from something called an iStick, which is a portable video device to Armed Forces Entertainment who book bands to perform overseas for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

You’ll also find some panels taking place; usually the good ones are at the same exact time, early in the morning when most musicians present are still asleep. Useful panels about getting signed to record labels, licensing music, working with brands to supplement your bands income, ASCAP talking about industry health insurance. Incredible panels that folks can take advantage of if they shelled out 400.00 dollars for a badge in October of last year, or the ‘Day of’ price of over $600. Wow! What a deal for that little band from Jersey who spent 1K on a Van Rental to drive all the way here to play two little clubs without being able to book any shows on the way since every band in America has booked up clubs and venue’s east, west and north of Austin.

Thursday evening I moseyed over to the Texas Rock Fest sponsored by Guitar Hero III stages. The Texas Rock Fest is in its 3rd year and used to be held in an empty lot that had been dubbed ‘Beirut’ for its urban warfare visage. Newly situated in a giant parking lot, Rock Fest is free and open to the public and all ages. With its central location on 7th and Trinity it is an easy place to find and if you are local or a band without money it is a good place to end up, drinks aren’t cheap though so make friends with a stage hand and soak up the free ones back stage. The Normal Kids from Evergreen, CO played a ripping set with a stand in singer named Travis who belted out each tune like they where his own.

I attempted to make it to the Anti showcase later that night to catch Billy Bragg again and The Weakerthans but I ended up at Vice watching Fucked Up. The problem with this behemoth of a festival is that you will ‘attempt’ to make to as many things as possible but end up straying and getting pulled into some vortex watching another band. Getting pulled in to the Fucked Up vortex was well worth the distraction. Singer Damian Abraham stalked the stage like a polar bear, moving his considerable mass gracefully through the raised fists in front of the stage, raining spit and sweat on the first 3 rows. Take one look at their wiki entry and you’ll get an idea for their brand of irreverent punk rock.

That concludes day 2.5. Day 3.5 soon to come (with pics and vids!).

Billy Bragg 

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