Ah, so there I was, in the land where everything has to do with meat or music, in one way or another. I had never ventured to this conference/land o' plenty festivalism before and was glad to see what all the ruckus was about! After checking in, dropping my stuff off at my friend Mer's house, and receiving my SX gear, I went to the first venue of many. I started my "holiday" as it were, at Red 7, to see the mighty EASY ACTION, yea! I caught John, Harold, Tony & Matt in the backyard/second stage of the venue before they went on & captured some of this buttiness... I mean nuttiness...OK, so it was not really a big deal, I thought it was amazing that Mr. Gold, Mr. Red and Mr. Silver all had no pantylines - these guys are pros - no doubt performing at a venue near you soon. EA vocalist John Brannon told me that he was going to be singing some Negative Approach songs later in the week with Fucked Up on the famous Congress Street "Bat" Bridge at 2am. Most of the bats are still away in warmer Mexico, but just the idea of seeing anyone play at 2am on a bridge that's famous for bat migration was pretty great.
After Easy Action played, here is John at right, I managed to figure out what this whole thing was about once I started walking around. The schedule is hectic, and the opportunites are aplenty: day parties, free food, beer and loud music - at least my choices were loud. And although I love Harvey Milk, Half Japanese, and Hank IV like I love my own family, there's been plenty of references to all three bands because they played the WFMU showcase on Friday night at Spiro's, so go here for the details of the Harvey Milk set, or here for Half Japanese coverage, or here to read and hear the Hank IV set! The bands I have no good pix of but thoroughly enjoyed were: The Dicks, The Clutters, Witch, Vverevvolf Grehv, High on Fire (saw them twice, but got no good pix - constant headbanging doesn't always discipline a photographer!), Russian Circles, Tokyo Blood Opera, and Genghis Tron. It was great to see Gary Floyd of the Dicks in his party hat and blue skirt, sporting a t-shirt that read: TELL YOUR WIFE at their performance at the Elysium. The Dicks are still a force to be reckoned with even though it's been 28 years since their "Hate the Police" 45 was released, it still sounded as vibrant, fresh and real as it had been back in the eighties. Earlier in the evening I strolled over to the Light Bar after sampling some of Austin's BBQ, to see Tiger Tiger and the Clutters at the Chicken Ranch showcase. Tiger Tiger, whose guitarist Buffi swaggers more like a member of the Dictators than someone fronting what most would pigeonhole a garage styled band, rocked through a defiant set with perverse hooks, keyboards, fishnets, power surges & fun! The evening was topped off by my getting to see Naked Raygun at Red Eyed Fly. Their Chicago chugga brand of post hardcore was very well received by the crowd whose reaction was frantic, maniacal & sometimes pretty darn pushy! The band stated in 2007 it has officially reunited, so if this is a band you miss or haven't gotten to see ever, make it a point to do so!
Mmm, so after the Naked Raygun set I went off to my lodgings for some leftover BBQ, and a chance to recharge my batteries & get some zzzzz's. It was going to be an awesome three more days! I now move on to the subject of food briefly, as I loved the presentation and the comfort level that Austin vendors offer with their cuisine. First, to the right is the sign from Go Bites, a little doorway eats alcove on Red River St., in the heart of the SXSW action. Next is the mug of the Hot Dog King, on his cart, also on Red River, closer to Red Eyed Fly, as Go Bites is on the block where the world famous Emo's is. On Thursday, my friend Donny, who lives in Austin took me out of the immediate SXSW freakout area to Maria's Taco Express for some great Mexican food with live music. The underwear painting here is the side of the restaurant. I also sampled some great Mexican at Jaime's later in the week, which is across from Stubb's, where I got to see Motorhead play Thursday with a host of others, and where Roky Erickson showcased on Saturday night. My next evening was full of heaviness; from High on Fire's bludgeoning set to the insane one-man bloodletting sounds of Vverevvolf Grehv on the Relapse stage. Between them was Genghis Tron; who sport the newest release on the label, "Board up the House", and who's bandpage motto is "we want to eat your brains", sounded pretty hungry and feral, Municipal Waste on the Earache label, who's set included a spontaneous "garbage dive", where a member of the audience got into a plastic trash can and dove off the PA stack into the circle pit inside it like his own barrel over Niagara Falls. The frighteningly tight Coliseum also played that evening, punishing everyone in earshot with their defiant brand of metal and punk that makes me squeal with glee. I spotted two guys who did not know each other who were BOTH sporting Thin Lizzy patches on their jackets during High on Fire's set, and I had to get a photo of the two of them. For some reason I didn't migrate down to photograph their asses here, I guess Mr. Gold, Red & Silver had given me too much too soon! Friday was my workday; I got to see Municipal Waste and High on Fire, who played at Spiro's during the day before setting up the WFMU showcase for the evening. I managed to get out and see bits of 1349 and also The Meatmen - Tesco is so antagonistic - he wouldn't be Tesco without his brand of insult, or his fashion sense. By the time Friday night wrapped up, I was amazed that there was still another day to go. The clusterfuckedness of the taxi situation in Austin became apparent to me on Saturday, as I was hoping to hit some venues not on the walkable path. I ended up being stranded 50 blocks from anywhere for several hours, and don't even want to think about the bands that I missed...however, there is never enough said for a good nap on a sunny day, which is how I spent half my afternoon after seeing Austin's Blower and the Moistboyz at the High Times showcase pretty darn early. Blower, features ex-Didjit Doug Evans on guitar and my gal Mer on bass,kick out some hot rod punk & roll with a Kiss bent, and the legendary Moistboyz, whose touring lineup now feature Jeff Pinkus of the Butthole Surfers, Daddy Longhead & Honky on guitar, and Nick Oliveri, of Mondo Generator/Queens of the Stone Age on bass with the one and only insane Dickie Moist up front on vocals. I got to see John Doe play solo on an outdoor stage while my teeth turned blue from some free ice cream, slightly greener blue than the hue of John's shirt shown here, luckily saw 15 minutes of the Clutters again while ducking into a random bar looking for a clean bathroom - I successfully did NOT have to use the dreaded porta-john all festival! So after seeing Black Mountain in the park, Russian Circles at Emo's IV, and Jay Reatard at Beerland, I circled in for my landing like a hungry vulture, my final show of the convention, there were many choices, but I decided to finish off my trip the way I had started, only the venue was different. Easy Action is such a superior band live that I couldn't miss the chance to see them twice in one week. They had actually played something like 175 times in six days, so I was really a slacker in terms of how often I chose to see them, but a gal's gotta circulate, y'know? They closed out the fest (or my version of it) by bringing down the house Detroit style, dirty,sweaty and 100% dedicated to blowing away the crowd with their power (bassist Tony & Matt on drums at left). Beerland was my final venue, whose friendly handstamp ("don't move here" in case you can't read it) indicated to us visitors that we were just that, visitors, and not to get any bright ideas, and actually made us happy to eventually leave, since the toll of going to all these shows in a short period of time was physically challenging. Drummer Matt was out front right after Easy Action's set, with about one-eighth of a beer left & was pressured into chugging the rest of his brew by an employee, no doubt due to local liquor regs. The skinsman chugged and then heaved in a classic one-two punch that we all laughed about, especially himself - that's what rock is REALLY all about - taking it in and giving it all back. Previously I had visited Austin, and hung out with a friend who managed a longhorn ranch & had tons of fun, feeding the cows and basically spent time just lazing around with the ambient sounds of cow in the background split between going to shows, and THAT didn't make me want to move there. Even though the eastern shores are becoming more and more restrictive, I don't think I'm ready to make the move just yet; breathe easy, Austin! For now I'll take my souvenir Texas rubber duckie and my memories and get the hell outta dodge back to the warm moist airwaves of WFMU.