South By Southwest: Day 3.5

hot water musicHot Water Music

This air-conditioned, embalming chamber of temporary habitation has made my face grow haggard and the 3-day stubble and pale early spring skin makes me look about 10 years older than I am. I fit in well here. All these industry folks are handsome in the half-light of dingy clubs around the city. There is that warm booze glaze wherever one looks, from the spring break college kids projectile vomiting in overstuffed trash bins to pint glasses sweating in the Austin humidity.

Perez Hilton waits for his car at the Four Seasons, his showcase this weekend with N.E.R.D is one of the highlights and a fascinating point about ground swell popularity in the music business. He may dish about the worst dregs of celebrity like Britney and Lindsay but an endorsement from him for a band is an olive branch to popularity. It was reported recently by the New York Times that he might have an A&R deal with Universal by the time you read this it might have already been signed. Good for him.

On the other hand you’ve got cheap meals maven Rachel Ray with her own showcase with the Raveonettes where a fair share of bloggers, music leeches and others ate Yum-o! amounts of spicy shrimp and cheesy orzo while gagging down new songs from Holyfuck. If you want to have influence in this town just get yourself some friends together, hand some indie bands some cash and throw a party. If she gets an A&R deal watch out for churning seas, black sun and swarms of locust (not the good kind in suits that play grind core either).

Today is a special party though. One I’ve been anxiously anticipating for a few months. The Shirts for a Cure Project is hosting a FREE party at Red 7 with recently reunited Gainesville punk outfit, Hot Water Music as the headliner. Started by rock photographer Mark Beamer in 2002 the project has bands donate shirt designs to the Syrentha J. Savio Endowment (SSE) which helps give assistance to underprivileged women who cannot afford expensive breast cancer medication and treatment as well as spreading awareness about breast cancer prevention (if you’ve got a facebook account, go sign up in the causes application).

I made it there at noon, a few minutes before doors opened. This looked more like my kind of crowd. Not too many asymmetrical haircuts or pseudo hip-hop garb. Quite a few beards and some Converge t-shirts. Yes! My peeps and no one in a sport coat with jeans anywhere near. The line stretched around the block and there was some worry on my behalf that I may not get in but when I approached, handed my ID I heard them say they’d only let 200 more in, so I could have slept another 20 minutes and made it fine. I’m glad I got in though. I waded my way through the indoor ‘bar’ stage where some bands like Envy On the Coast where about to play. They’re mid level Warped Tour style screamo-whatever-they-call-it-now type of music that I’m just too old to get into.

It is approaching 90 degrees. The outdoor stage area has a bar at the back, large open space, stage and a 12 foot brick wall where just on the other side is another showcase that elicit a few hilarious comments about the quality during the long day. Jersey based band Drive By opened the set with some searing four on the floor Lifetime-esque punk rock and consistently plugged their Jersey neighbors, Gaslight Anthem who had just finished playing a few blocks away at their new label showcase for SideOneDummy Records.

Gaslight Anthem was definitely a highlight among many for this particular show. They played a good cross section of songs from their Sabot debut, Sink or Swim peppered with tunes from they’re recently released EP Senor and the Queen. Where Against Me went the route of more Billy Bragg/Replacements style rock, Gaslight Anthem proudly wears their Springsteen roots on their sleeves (singer Brian Fallon sports a Tramps Like Us, Baby We Were Born To Run sleeveless black Tee). They’ll be in LA the last two weeks of March recording their full-length follow up before heading out on the road with former Avail singer turned solo alt country singer Tim Barry and hometown bros, The Bouncing Souls.

San Francisco punk band Dead To Me tore things up and chaos ensued when Paint It Black warmed the concrete with their Slapshot style hardcore. Hot Water Music opened with “Alachua” and it was like they had never stopped being the same hard working, hard drinking, poor passionate traveling bards they started out as in the early 90’s. Singer Chuck Ragan and Singer Chris Wollard both have such similar voices its hard to believe they’re not blood relatives, however that dynamic bit of genetic difference makes what HWM so unique. They are doing a national tour and this was a somewhat unofficial kick off for it, its great ‘no surrender rock and roll.’

heres a set list pic from Colin over at punknews.org

The end of this ridiculously long day saw a performance by MXPX and a stumbling swagger down 6th street with the Fat Wreck Chords crew, ending in a cocktail at the Omni and a planned stroll to see Fucked Up across the Congress Street bridge that had to bow out of. I turned and went to my room where I fell asleep wrapped in my street clothes with one shoe off so I could get a few hours of sleep.

Gaslight Anthem

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