SXSW Day One

Mar 15, 2012 by

 

We’d like to introduce the newest member of the Old 67 collective:  Rob Fitzgerald

Rob is an Austin, Texas local with a long history of enjoying music and beer.  Lucky for Rob, he lives in the perfect venue for both of his favorite hobbies.  If you’re out and about at SXSW, or Austin in general, keep your eye out for him.  He’ll be the tall guy sipping on an IPA and discussing the merits of Freak Folk with anybody who will listen.

Realizing I need to pace myself early, I decided to stick to one venue for my first night of SXSW 2012… I chose Brooklyn Vegan’s launch party for Daniel Johnston’s new comic book and iPad app:  Space Ducks.  Space Ducks!

I arrived at the Belmont just after the first act, Dinosaur Feathers, was finishing their last song; they seemed ok but didn’t really get enough to form an opinion. In between sets I camped out on the upper deck overlooking the stage where they were filming and enjoyed a tasty complimentary white whiskey lemonade; a little lite on the sauce but you get what you pay for.

Daniel Johnston himself was there as well, bellied up to the bar smoking a cigarette. I saw some folks taking a picture with him and decided to do the same – yeah, I was “that guy”, but I very rarely do that and it seemed fairly unobtrusive. I asked his handler (I guess that’s what he was) who said sure, then nothing happened, so I asked Daniel (we are on a first name basis now) and he said “sure, take a picture of us”.  Then he put his arm around the other dude and said, “This picture is going on the front of Rolling Stone magazine!”… I took the picture and he turned away, back to the bar. So I ask him again, more specifically, “Can I take a picture ‘with’ you?” and he reluctantly agrees; as the other guy was taking the picture I ask “Is this one going on Rolling Stone too?”, to that he said “Maybe on the cover of Popular Mechanics!”

 

 

I used OneNote throughout the evening with my phone, entering quick thoughts about the
acts and occasionally general observations.  I did it thinking it would prompt a fountain of descriptive and insightful musings, it now looks quite a lot like garble (could be the several glasses of complimentary white whiskey lemonade talking). So here’s what I captured, semi-edited to make some sense…

Caveman – a 5 piece w/ two guitars, bass, keyboard and drums. Tribal drums, ethereal, reggae bass, grizzly bear, dude w/ orange clogs drawing caricatures (more on this later).

 R Steve Moore – big grey beard, trucker hat, Michael Dell in the ‘80s glasses, visor, folk/jazz guitar, crown clapping “wtf! this isn’t serious”,blood shot sticker on guitar, spoken word, repeating “Netanyahu. Search engine!” closing remark “God bless outside music… don’t believe the GD mainstream!”

Jeffrey Lewis – history lesson of the French revolution with his comic/movie playing behind, schoolhouse rock, don’t let the label take you out to lunch.  Later joined by two others becoming the Bundles…

The Bundles (Jeffrey Lewis, Kimya Dawson, Aaron Wilkinson) – kept w/ the
preschool-like rhyme-ey sound, dreads, giant afro, vans, acoustic hipsters (anti-folk?), evolved into stoner acoustic some distortion, eventually reminiscent of the Raveonettes

Kimya – folk in a good way, bass ass, subtle power = from kid-like to in-your-face, heart, knowledge, flow, hip-hop, DIY. Makes you believe in music. Sure hope Vivian listens to this kind of music when she is older (please, no Bieber!). In addition to the Bundles, Kimya is/was in the Moldy Peaches and is supposedly working on a project w/ Aesop Rock.

 

 

Will Sheff (of Okkervil River) – love OR. Distinctive voice. Somehow hits all home. Then he lost me w/ his intro to his last song, something about the hard life of a band traveling, doesn’t sound so bad now but after Kimya it just seemed a little snobbish, but, I really dug the song otherwise…sometimes Behind the Music just doesn’t work.

Back to dude w/ orange cloggs drawing caricatures… I finally had to ask what was up – his shtick is going to festivals & events and draws caricatures of the musicians playing.  Seems to go with the theme – Space Ducks and schoolhouse rock sounds – and is not bad stuff. I actually asked him to draw me, he did a pretty good job so I bought him a beer (he likes IPA so he can’t be that bad). I didn’t get the drawing but he said he plans to post them on his blog at some point (His blog: Isaacparis.wordpress.com and his band: Paperscissors.bandcamp.com)

Alex Maas (of the Black Angels) – didn’t write anything about him, not for lack of enjoyment. His voice is unique so his set felt like acoustic Black Angels, which was a good thing.

Motopony – not a real fan of the name, but was hitting all the pop marks. I was distracted by the guitarist’s hat, he reminded me of Duckie from Pretty in Pink.

Daniel Johnston – Motopony was his backing band which worked quite well (better than Grupo Fantasma a few years back, and I quite like GF), their pop hooks matched Daniel’s quirky yet insightful lyrics; the more I listen to him the more I begin to understand his genius.

Built To Spill – I have to admit, I was never very into them, for some reason I’ve always felt there was a little bit of jam band like feel to their sound and some of their fans which is just not my kind of thing, but after seeing them last night I realize I’ve been missing something pretty fantastic. It’s no argument they are pretty amazing musicians, but they also have a great presence, casual while precise, and their sound, with a decent amount of distortion in all the right places, really draws you in. I also appreciate, after 20 years they are still lugging and set up their own gear; must be those down home Idaho roots.

I really only made one note last night about BTS, it was: single white female… there was this guy who was quizzing me on BTS (which I know only a little) to negotiate his way in front of me as I was right against the stage by Doug Martsch, apparently he felt that the more knowledgeable fans should get priority crowd placement, it was clearly a very big deal to him and didn’t mean quite as much to me and atthis point I was just over him so I conceded. I’m not sure Martsch was pleased, as the guy was nearly drooling on his pedals the entire set. I appreciate the guy’s passion for the band; he might consider taking it
down a notch…

 

 

So that’s one day down, now gearing up for day two… need to head out soon!

 

468 ad

Leave a Comment