SXSW Day Two

Mar 18, 2012 by

Wednesday, day 2:
Got my start of day two a little late (didn’t pace myself quite as well as I should have the night before). Good line up at the old Emo’s – yes, that’s right, if you haven’t heard Emo’s moved locations across I35 in the old Back Room; I saw the last official show – Killdozer – at the old location, which was sadly underwhelming.  The move is an unfortunate loss to downtown. They are temporarily calling it “The Main”, to serve as a pop-up SXSW venue; very stripped down, including a very weak beer selection.  How weak you ask?  My beverage of choice for the evening was Miller High Life, and those who know my preference for malted beverages know I was less than pleased (hey, it last it wasn’t Bud product, otherwise I would have just had water).

Good ‘ol punk rock… Intro to a signature song: “Who gives a fuck about something more than themselves?… Fuck Authority! ” And the crowed erupted into a massive mosh pit, complete with stage diving and the lead singer crowd surfing as I reminisced about the old days observing from afar.

At the break, I moved closer to the stage for the next act – none other than Jimmy Cliff. I struck up a conversation with a striking woman with a very large bow in her hair.  She actually managed to pull it off quite well; anyone else would have looked ridiculous.  Maybe she just looked so much cooler with all her priority badges.  She also had a British accent, which is always hot. Her name was Marsha and was in fact from England in town for SXSW to promote a Lionel Ritchie event. We chatted about Austin, I gave her a few tips on good food & beverage recommendations – I was anxiously waiting for her to offer me a pass, or something to the Lionel show after she was so taken with my magnetic personality and engaging conversation… let’s just say I was not Dancing on the Ceiling.

Jimmy Cliff
Late start due to some technical issues; either that or he was toking it up backstage. Started with “You Can Get it if You Really Want” and moved into several new songs. Small backing band, which I liked for the venue; they were solid which was a plus as his guitar work had minimal effect, even though he made kind of a big show of it. “We don’t
want another Vietnam in Afghanistan” was his intro to a reinterpretation of “Vietnam”; ended song chanting, “We’ve got to stop the war” with a lot of crowd participation. Next up was “Many Rivers to Cross” which was one of the songs I was most excited about; it
gives me goose bumps anytime I hear it and to see/hear it live I was even more emotional – It was one of my uncle, David Frederick’s (my mom’s brother), favorite songs. I could feel David there singing at the top of his lungs, tears streaming down his face.  David was a larger-than-life, bear of a man who had the most generous and gentle heart.  I’m not afraid to admit I’m pretty much a crier, too.  Cliff ended his fantastic set with “Harder They Come” getting the crowd singing together “I’d rather be a free man in grave…”.

The Sword

Next up, after the cool reggae from Cliff, came what I like to call mystical/space/stoner/metal (could be a good soundtrack for Game of Thrones), which I needed after getting all sappy from “Many Rivers”!  Being Austin-based, (we go to the same auto mechanic, Mark’s American Car Care on Cameron Rd!), The Sword attracts a dedicated following.

 I chatted with a few folks in the crowd about their expectations of the new drummer, who is replacing the temp guy who replaced founding member Trivett Wingo, who left the band abruptly mid-tour in Warped Rider tour in 2010. One of the guys runs Austin pirate radio, KAOS ( and he & I talked about other shows we’ve seen like Sonic Youth and Skinny Puppy. I saw Thurston Moore of
Sonic Youth play a few weeks ago at St. David’s Episcopal church (which happens to be my church, which made it extra cool to me); I’m a huge SY fan and though KAOS dude didn’t see the show, he heard it was fantastic, and it was, so I was happy to know St. Dave’s is becoming known as a new & unique music venue (another favorite, Low, played there last year for SXSW, also a tremendous show).

 It struck me that Kyle Shutt, the guitarist for The Sword, looks kind of like I once did back in the day… skinny w/ long blonde hair – but his looked nicely combed, he is also full of tats, and shreds the guitar… so now that I think about it, that’s nothing like I was. Anyway, it’s fun to project every now & then. By the way, KAOS guy & I agree – the new drummer… a keeper.

Decided to change venues so did a few quick stops before the end of the night… as I walked around Red River & 6th St. I got to enjoy the crowds, as well as the cool green lasers shooting around above everyone’s heads all the way down the streets (well done Joe H!).

Swung up 6th St to The Dirty Dog to catch a little of Corrosion of Conformity, continuing the metal.

Then back up to Red River to Stubb’s for a total change… heard a few songs from Andrew Bird. I found him whistling a little less it seems (for better ot worse) but still has an affinity for lyrics with many syllables, if you think about it, it’s not a particularly common practice (how many syllables in “particularly”?? Ha!). The few songs I heard focused more on his violin, maybe looking back a little to the “Bowl of Fire” days. The guy is clearly smart as shit; not sure if we should infer he is also a biologist based on the double helix images floating around on the screen behind him, but I would not be surprised. Some other observations I jotted down during his act: ‘There is something to be said of jams, takes out there and ties it together’ (not sure what that exactly means, especially since I’m not much into “jam”). ‘What I like about live music, different interpretations of the songs you know.’

Cut out as Bird was closing, then up to the Mohawk for another great Austin-based act, catching the end of the Octopus Project’s set.  Always love rocking out to Yvonne Lambert’s theremin (not an oxymoron); in fact the band was particularly energetic on Wednesday and the crowd was going nuts.

That was my night… walked back to the parking deck that used to be my secret free spot and I’m still kind of pissed that they are now charging $10; I knew it was bound to happen but I’m taking it a little hard. I would literally give my left if I could gain the power to magically make a prime parking stop appear wherever I wanted during SXSW.

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