March 17, 2012:
Nine days of madness is just as it sounds. Gorilla had been sick all week, and by day nine he was the only one who seemed to be on the mend. The rest of us were quite severely tattered. Perhaps I’m just speaking for myself, in which case, I will say I felt horrid. My nose only worked to produce snot. Breathing was not one of the functions that it was choosing to perform. I’m sure you already realize that I’m going to say the cure for this was Wolf Water, because it was, is, and always will be.
It was a relief that Gorilla was starting to feel less awful, because we filmed more sessions this day than any other.
First up, Los Angeles Americana/folk duo Honeyhoney, a combination of Suzanne Santo and Ben Jaffe who are about to release their second album, Billy Jack. Their Saturday Jam Van set highlighted the smoky vocals and beautiful genre-jumping arrangements that have garnered them early acclaim.
I took a mid-day stroll with Chach and Philthy. We split off from the Convention Center and went searching for some Gary Clark Jr. We found him at the Rolling Stone Showcase at La Zona Rosa. If the Stone Foxes was my favorite show, this was a close second only due to the fact that the Foxes got to play for an hour, and Mr. Clark only hit the stage for a thirty minute set. He was as expected, terrific, shredding, and owning a room. It felt like I was watching something that was about to really happen, because I’m pretty sure during this next year this dude is seriously about to happen. If not, well he’s still damn cool. We also got a little added Tom Morello bonus, and the Night Watchman always abides.
From there the day got much more, shall we say, hype… Back at the van we had a bit of a hip-hop summit shuffle through. First was Nemo Achida, a Lexington bred MC who brought along two violin players to give us one of the most surprising sets of the trip. Hip-hop and violins, I highly recommend it.
Nemo was followed by a Brooklyn native, Torae, a spitter who has been on the hip-hop radar for a few years, let’s say since, 2007ish… He torched the van and then signed it by repping his borough, the BK, something that our very own East Coast Digital Representative, Chach man, has never done.
As for the last of the hip-hop acts, he didn’t so much drop lyrics in the van as he did on top of the van. In true Jam Van fashion we wanted to cap off our last day in the convention center by irritating as many people as we possibly could. So we had Roach Gigz take to the roof of the Jam Van and do his very profanity laced tracks up there.
When time came for the trade show to close, well we still had one act to film.
So while the SXSW maintenance team began to break down the convention center and roll up the carpets, and charge people exorbitant fees for directing their vehicles through the exit gates, we kept jamming. Lightouts took the honor of being the last band to hit the Van in the Convention Center. These dudes are also from Brooklyn, and they play a type of rock that makes you reminisce about the nineties, unless you weren’t around during the nineties, which should make you sad, because the nineties were way less confusing then the Oh’s. Not as many screens and hashtags.
Having downed about three fifth’s worth of Wolf Water during the days sets, the Gorilla, the Buddhaphest, the Perfect Hippie, Chach, Jonny, and myself rolled the beast onto the streets of Austin and let her bask in the glory of awestruck onlookers. The ride is a blur, we pulled people into the van and threw stuff at people out of the van, we traipsed all over Austin until the battery kicked out and we had to find our way back to camp.
At camp our main goal was to get in contact with the Geologist, who had actually bid us all farewell at around noon that day. He wasn’t scheduled to leave Austin until the following day, so his parting words were only because he had planned to go off and get lost for the day, and if we were to see him again, well he wasn’t going to remember it.
When he said goodbye to me I did not figure the next time I saw him would be at a Lesi-Goth bar, but it was. The place was called the Elysium, it’s on Red River. He thought he was in a place called the Sidebar, it’s not on Red River.
The next morning when he was piecing the evening together he still thought he was at the Side Bar, but oh no, he was at the Elysium, where we were able to keep our eyes on him for all of five minutes. During those five minutes we watched what I guess amounted to a lesbian sex show on the stage (ed. note: no nudity involved, just bikinis and writhing) (ed. note: no complaints) and then Philthy got into an altercation with some hipsters.
Our Geologist had met up with a couple of our old friends, Craig and Molly, and he quickly ran off with them and Jonny went too, and since SXSW is the Bermuda Triangle for cell phones, they just go there and die, we lost them all for the rest of the night. We did find Phil some Indian food that I told him would be a huge mistake, and made haste for home, because three bottles of Wolf Water before dinner time is no joke. This was my first night passing out before four AM, and I did so half in the tent half outside of it, while Philthy once again vomited the night away. The boy can puke.
I guess that was the end of SXSW proper. Kind of anti-climactic, but I could barely open my eyes. Blame the Benadryl, blame the Wolf Water, blame the absurd crowds and miles of walking from line to line, whatever it was, my legs gave out.
As for the Geologist, well we found him the following morning, not much worse for the ware… Whatever happened that night is between him, the Elysium, and the Spoiled Doves of Texas.
So while the garbage crews set up to sweep the streets of the discarded wrist bands, pizza plates, and good-times, and the bands all loaded black cases into white vans, we slept. As cliche as this sounds, our adventure had just begun.
Other Highlights: I mean, I have to re-itterate here that the Spoiled Doves of Texas were a highlight, Facebook them… I also found one of the most advanced glow sticks I have ever encountered. Why somebody would throw it out is like a mystery to me. It’s right up there with leaving your baby in a dumpster.