*Note: This is MY experience at SXSW 2012, not a show review or critique, based on notes taken on my IPhone between drinks.
After 17 hours of work, four hours of sleep, a visit from friends, and a night of drinking later, I decided to make the trip to Austin to endure the chaos that we know as SXSW. I got off of work at 7 pm Thursday evening, ran home to pack up the car, and took off to Austin. The three hour trip wasn’t so bad seeing that I had a new audiobook, a Redline energy drink, and a fresh pack of Turkish Silvers to keep me company. I didn’t waste any time, and as soon as I arrived in Austin, I headed for downtown. Now I know you hear the horrors of trying to find a parking spot in downtown ATX and during SXSW it can be a real nightmare, but tonight, it was easy. I step out of the car and the scent of cheep beer and cigarettes attacks my nose; I’m finally here.
I make some calls and find my friends down on 6th, already waiting at the Whiskey Room. I run in, give some hugs, and make a v-line for the bar. When I showed up Love Of Everything was already mid-set, and was damned good. Ahhhh I wish I could remember more of them but between the whiskey and talking, it’s hard to recall. Oh No Oh My, one of my favorite bands, and to be completely honest, the deciding factor for my trip to Austin, they didn’t disappoint. I talked to Greg (singer, bassist, guitarist) before the set and he said he hoped I wouldn’t be distraught because they were only playing three older songs, and everything else would be new material. I wasn’t distraught, in fact quite the opposite. The new songs showed a progression in songwriting that I’m happy to see ONOM make. After the set, it was clear that the whiskey was getting the best of my group; I couldn’t stop chain-smoking and I think Ceasar was hunched over the bar, obviously it was time to get some food.
God bless my drunken habits. In the midst of my buddy laying on the bar, Hang Ngo and I decided to meet up with some friends at another bar before it closed. We walked in and ran upstairs, bought another round of beers, and hugged a lot of great Lubbock people. (During this time Shout Out Out Out was playing, I had no clue it was them, and proceeded to dance in my chair) Closing Time! We get pushed out and meet up with Ceasar and Leslie to get some tacos. Though my memory is fuzzy, Carson Baskin ends up with our group somehow and we go to Taco Cabana. After some confusion about where we were sleeping, we finally get settled and slept like babies.
*Note: This next part was remembered by small notes I took… while drinking.
Wake up at the apartment, a little frustrated by our sleeping arrangement, but determined to find a place to stay and not let the situation ruin my SXSW. I need to get Carson to the Communion House (he’s helping Communion Records with their showcases) as soon as possible, he’s late to take some Brits to go shoot guns. I ask the group if they would like to grab some breakfast before heading out downtown, everyone agrees.
Change of plans, while checking my twitter I see that Aaron Johnson (@thatTXguyaaron) has tweeted about Say Anything playing a free show at Waterloo Records, I loved that band, hell I still love that band. We’re going. New plan: screw breakfast, drop off Carson, park somewhere, meet at Waterloo.
Hang and I have finally parked and hoofing it to Waterloo, my God it’s humid.
We made it, this place is packed, but I can tell it’s going to be fun. The whole vibe makes me feel like I’m at the old Toyko Joe’s.
“Say Anything did a great job, they played a good mixture of old and new songs. I completely felt 16 again, Max Bemis’ voice is still one of my favorites.”
Beer. Haven’t had lunch yet but God knows what I want, and those hippies are selling microbrew Pilsner for $5, I’m sold.
“Talib Kweli destroyed the crowd with his full band. From hipsters, to 70s rockstar wanna-bes, to straight hip-hop fans; he’s got everyone bobbing their heads with hands in the air, I’m super impressed.”
[At this point I stopped keeping up with the time.]
Beer. We’re hungry, and this beer is starting to hit me (along with the humidity and hangover). Hang and I walk over to Z Tejas for some fish tacos. A little pricey, but damned good. I get a text from another Lubbock friend, we leave the restaurant to meet him at Waterloo to see Of Montreal.
We show up and there he is in all of his awesomeness (Trace Thomas). Another beer. We talk over Jimmy Cliff playing a set, at this point I’m too hot and my alcohol level is up.
“Jimmy Cliff was great, honestly, just wish I knew more of his stuff.”
I start worrying about where I’m going to sleep, or if I’m even going to stay. I’ve reached the point where it’s do or die with the booze, and I’m frustrated because I just learned that the Thrift Store Cowboy show I was looking forward to is VERY far away, pissed.
“Just ran into Tori Vasquez and Kenny Harris, chatted with Tori about her UK tour. Sounded amazing, they invited us to go hang out on the top of a garage at Whole Foods, but declined because we want to see Of Montreal, but still, very badass of them.”
Halfway drunk and pissed, reality sets in; I have nowhere to sleep and have to go home tonight. So I make the decision to walk back to my car and go to the TSC show by myself. I say my goodbyes to Hang and get on my way.
“It’s time, my buzz has nearly worn off, the humidity and frustration has gotten to me, I decide to walk the nine blocks to my car, drive across the river to see TSC. My thoughts flare; Should I stay? Sleep in my car? But when I got to my car it’s clear that this is the only sane decision.”
It was confusing finding the HOUSE that TSC played at, when I walked in I was dumbfounded. It was a giant studio, beautiful, with a giant pool and gorgeous landscaping in the backyard. The stage was set up right behind the pool, it was kind of surreal. I said hello to the band and other Lubbock people I knew. Between TSC, Daniel Markham, and ex-KTXT people, it felt like I was back in Lubbock via 2007. It was fun.
“Four margaritas, two whiskey cokes, and three Lone Stars… I’m having a blast. This is a Lubbock party, and this has made up for my crappy SXSW thus far. Thrift Store is killing it, and Markham’s beard is killer. [no joke, in my drunkenness I decided to take note of Markham’s beard] I am having a great time.”
Leslie, Ceasar, and Hang all meet up with me at the House, as soon as TSC play their last note. We talk, or more-so, I ramble about how great the show was and we decide to get some food. At Fran’s Hamburgers, though finally having a place to stay, I find out that I work earlier than expected the next day, and HAVE to go home tonight. A little disappointed and relieved at the same time, I say goodbye to Hang (again), and the three of us head back to Houston.
All in all, SXSW 2012 wasn’t a total bust. It reaffirmed one thing for sure: I am proud to be a part of the Lubbock music scene. Living in Houston, I brag about how close we are as a scene and how we all (in a general sense) are friends. Everyone I ran into from Lubbock was greeted by a hug or beer cheers and conversation. We’re all proud of each other’s successes and are interested in everyone’s current/future projects. Will I be back to SXSW next year? We’ll see. Will I be back to Lubbock soon? Absolutely.