March 16, 2012:
I’ve never been this many days deep into the madness of a music festival… We didn’t really take into account how long of an experience SXSW was, so we game-planned and played the game as if we were going to Bonnaroo or Outside Lands, or any of the other numerous three-day festivals that exist. That is to say, we went hard from start to finish every day. So here we were at day eight and everything was starting to creek and ache a little bit. The Wolf Water was coming up some before going down, if you will…
This was our boy Numbers’ last day on the trip. He had other business to attend to, and so we sent him off with Van sets from three great bands.
First up was Hurray for the Riff Raff, an American/country-folk band out of New Orleans. Led by Alynda Lee Segarra, they opened the morning on a lovely note, with three songs that you couldn’t help but sway along to.
Continuing with the theme of folk/Americana, The Kopecky Family band was next in line to make our beast swoon. They’re based out of Nashville, and made up of five boys and one girl, and for this very special set they had a unique stand-in. Our very own Ghost Piano, the one we found in Ft. Stockton, Texas made it’s Jam Van debut. No need to ask if it worked, because Ghost Pianos always work. It’s merely a question of if it worked for good or for evil… More on that in a few days posts.
The last band of the day just had their album, Tiger Talk, named USA Today’s Album of the Week. So we’re thankful we got Yukon Blonde to hit us with their Canadian born indie-rock. Their tunes are upbeat and airy and were a perfect springboard to hitting the streets of Austin for the SXSW night-roam.
That roam took our group of wanderers across the bridge to the Auditorium Shores’ Stage where we caught a set by “indie-super-group” Diamond Rugs. Super-group in quotes, because while I am a big fan of all the bands whose pieces make up this group (Deer Tick, Dead Confederate, Black Lips, Los Lobos) I was quite underwhelmed by their combined set at the large outdoor stage. I’m not sure if all the band members had just partied a bit too hard during the week, or if they just aren’t a band built to perform on a stage that large, but it wasn’t a great set, and the consensus from those of us who made the trek across Austin’s streets to see them was that we would have preferred to catch that one at a smaller spot.
Having made the mistake of spending time at Auditorium Shores, we blew our window to really get into any of the top parties that were going off that night. See that’s the problem with SXSW, or rather, one of the problems. It’s all a mess, you have no idea what’s going on and where it’s going on at, and if you don’t get into whatever it is that you don’t know about early, then you’re not getting into anything at all until late. So we were forced to make our own party at some bar on dirty Sixth Street. There we filled our bodies with Wolf Water and waited for the long overdue arrival of the missing piece to our craft services team, Philthy, Phil Bufano, or as the Geologist likes to call him, “Big Sexy.”
Phil came in hot, real hot, and real ready to throw down. So when the Hippie, Gorilla, Buddhaphest, and the rest of them bailed due to exhaustion and over-consumption, Chach, the Geologist, Jonny, and I knew that we had to persevere for Philthy.
Jonny met another Raven shortly after, and we lost him for the night. So we were down to four explorers, and what we found was nothing short of a phenomenon.
Having listened to Chach repeatedly say “Juicy J” and point out every single Juicy J poster that we came across that week, we were finally persuaded to check out the legendary member of Three 6 Mafia’s set at the Club Deville.
Here’s a heady SXSW trick to keep in mind: Most people are there to see Wavves, so they don’t go to see Juicy J, or any of the other plethora of good hip-hop acts that go down. So we were able to walk into the Juicy J show without so much as sniffing a line (ed. note: much to the Geologist’s chagrin)… There we found a stage packed with about thirty rappers, one of which was Juicy J, another of which was Whizz Khalifa, and the other twenty-eight or so were just dudes, passing around Costco-sized bottles of Bombay Gin (ed. note: because apparently that’s gangster now), nodding their heads, and creating what I would consider to be the perfect atmosphere for a hip-hop show.
Nevermind the fact that Skrillex was skrilling next door at the Mohawk Lounge, nevermind that the frizzy haired dude from Workaholics was standing beside us trying to dissuade people from taking ridiculous pictures with him and just let him get his trip-hop on, disregard the fact that Philthy and the Geologist met some little Mexican fella who “hooked-it-up” (ed. note: he sooooo did not hook it up), disregard all of that and focus on the thirty dudes up on stage, stunner shades, blunts, undistinguishable yelling and grunting, hand-waving, and if you focus on that, you’ll understand that this was close to the best rap show that I’ve ever been to. I couldn’t tell you a single song they did other than “Black and Yellow,” but I can tell you that I don’t ever want to go to a concert again where someone isn’t sitting on a speaker passing a giant bottle of gin and serving no musical purpose whatsoever. It was amazing, and only further enhanced by the bits of Skrillex that we were able to hear during the lulls in thug yelling.
I slept very well that night, aside from the fact that Philthy woke up repeatedly to vomit and then climb back over me in the tent to find his spot, to then climb back over me, vomit again, and re-start the cycle. Like I said, he comes in hot.
Other Highlights: Jonny sneaking Wolf Water into Auditorium Shores via his pants… The Perfect Hippie getting some dirty old woman to tackle me at Auditorium shores and roll around on top of me in the dirt. I was far from cool with it, as I was watching my beloved Wolverines lose in the NCAA tourney. Fortunately there was an old OSU fan nearby to cheer me up. It went something like this: “Oh, I’m sorry that you waisted four years of your life getting stupid…” Also, discovering a sign for “Stylex,” which no doubt is the stylist for Skrillex.
Further… Next stop… ELYSIUM NIGHT! WINK, NOD, NUDGE, MR. GEOLOGIST!!!