Angora Holly Polo Does the SXSW: Days Three and Four
LE TROISIEME JOUR
Musicians clustered outside their rooms at the Super 8 Motel, plucking their guitars in impromptu balcony performances. You could get whiffs of it floating on the breeze. Austin breeze is wonderful – it knows the instant you get too hot, and then steps in heroically to adjust your personal temperature.
Our mission for free food failed, so we picked up some delicious semi-sketchy food from the taqueria next door and sat by the pool, talking to a roadie from a band I forget already. Then our day began.
5:23 PM: A lonely but wonderful These United States show at A Blog and a Band Day Party – Club Primos. These United States played a song off their yet-to-be-released new album that I absolutely adore. It’s more ’80s, Bruce Springsteen rock, kind of like the newest Kings of Leon.
6:44 PM: Peter Murphy at Elysium. Then These United States. I felt lucky and, well, like kind of an asshole, as I sipped my red bull vodka on the Elysium patio, alone, making uncomfortable eye contact with literally hundreds of die-hard fans waiting in line on the other side of the fence. I fear I’m not even the biggest fan of Bauhaus, though I like them alright. Just not more than, say, the 1,000 people standing outside for hours on end. But that’s part of being a Donnybrookite – priviledge.
I started talking to Richard Gizbert from Al Jazeera, who does a great world music program called Playlist out of London. We talked about Echo and the Bunnymen, and I told him to check out Denver’s own Devotchka, which he was familiar with from their “Little Miss Sunshine” fame.
With These United States and friends around, the whiskey shots did a-flow, and I lost complete track of time. In fact, I lost a few hours. Then I stepped inside to use the lou and instead found myself face-to-face with my love, Father Guido Sarducci IV fresh from a long road trip, in a long embrace worthy of the greatest movie romances. I had my crew intact now: Father Guido Sarducci IV, Primero Vicente Pantalones, Donnybrook’s photographer from San Francisco, and of course Donnybrook correspondent the Timmy T Machine.
These United States played a set that was rousing and spectacular, though I thought the sound at Elysium was too loud and brassy for their style. Then we were off to an exclusive little shindig at the Daytrotter headquarters, about fifteen of us marching past the perfect place to dump a body, past the steel doors to sit by the fire for five minutes, then march back to Habana Calle 6 for the Songs for Presidents showcase. I had been talking the whole trip about how I’d never seen a cockroach, and then Saint Effluvia called me into the ladies’ room suddenly to show me my first ever specimen, crawling next to the trash can. “Let’s kill it!” said I. “They never die!” said she. But I closed the door – to evade any questioning – and I took the entire trash can and ground that cockroach into a pile of brown and vanilla-colored mush. It was horrendous and empowering.
1:27 AM: We stood outside the Mohawk for a second to listen to Dinosaur Jr., eating Frito Pies bought from the stand.
1:55 AM: Hot tub party back at the hotel. Father Guido and Primero Vicente and I ventured to the tiny hot tub to find it filled to the brim with chipper young lads, all drinking and dunking each other. “We should leave,” said my boys. They didn’t like the guy-to-girl (just me) ratio. But I really wanted a soak, and the guys in there turned out to be really nice guys, members from Lexington bands Emarosa and In Endeavors, and they kinda knew some of These United States. When a third band came splashing in – all dudes – we decided to call it a night.
LE QUATRIEME JOUR
I made a full and heroic recovery from my hangover at the Hot Freaks showcase at the Mohawk, one of my favorite places to be at SXSW, with free tacos and a fantastic Bloody Mary. In line for the bathroom, a charming and polite lad let me go before him; three minutes later he was kicking complete ass on stage as the lead singer of the Henry Clay People. I love it when that happens.
“This is a song about being shit broke and playing rock and roll music, because there’s nothing I’d rather do,” said the lead singer, and then they launched into a set of coursing upbeat ’60s rock, something that should be the soundtrack to a nostalgic film shot a la “Wonder Years” intro: grainy and blindingly bright, in which people are fighting for something decent and right. No wonder the illustrious Heather Browne is such a fan.
2:36 PM: These United States inside the Mohawk. The sound inside the Mohawk rumbled deliciously as Jesse Elliott played in a holey t-shirt that had seen better days. I heard Todd Roeth was a fan who hadn’t caught them yet live, and I watched him watch the show with delight in his eyes, with delight in my eyes.
3:25 PM: Port O’Brien said “Put this in your fuckin blog. You’re gonna blog the shit out of this right here.” Every once in a while, I do as I’m told. The fact that they played “I Woke Up Today” also convinced me.
3:53: the Thermals, a shit-tons of beer and interesting bathroom situations at Club de Ville. Oh yeah – and the Thermals were alright.
4:37: Young Coyotes at the Mile-High Fidelity party, then Born in the Flood. The place was packed!
7:11: a healthy contingent of Denver musicians, journalists, and otherwise are at Ricardo’s pool party in which several musicians are racing, naked, in the pool.
7:54: the Overcasters at Mile-High Fidelity. Thank the dark lords of swirling echoey rock, they finally fixed the effects pedal. It was broken or something so they had to go on late. But they played a gorgeous and flawless set as usual, representing for Denver.
9:38 PM: Ironic playing of Legos at the Convention Center turned earnest.
10:10 PM: A comedy set at the Velveeta Room starring Brendan Walsh. Homeboy had the gall to be late – causing the comic before him to anxiously pull more jokes out of his mostly empty bag o tricks – and then he finally burst upon the stage, exclaiming: “Sorry I’m late – I was finger-blasting some bitchhhhhhhh.”
In real people world, being horrible is bad. But in comedian world, it’s great. I absolutely loved him. He ended with a bit about whenever people force him to do karaoke, he inevitably sings the Cranberries’ “Zombie,” and they never ask him to do karaoke again – and then he demonstrated why, with the last few shrieking bars of the song. For the rest of the trip at obnoxious times, we would insert interludes from “Zombie” in a tribute to he, that Austin comedian.
10:29 PM: Japanese Motors at Emos. The bartender at Emos was the biggest, bikerest biker I’ve ever seen, and he slammed my shots of whiskey on the table. Rose showed up with Jim, exactly how I like him best: hammered. My boys were completely stoned out of their gourds. I was happy. Japanese Motors were decent if not a bit straightforward in their ragged debaucherous surf music approach – but fun.
12:06 AM: What the fuck, is that the GZA?
The Black Lips set up stonily for their set at Emo’s as the GZA’s flowing piped in on the background speakers. Even hearing them playing him in the background was kind of odd, so imagine my surprise when he emerged upon the stage in full glory and the crowd erupted into hazy ovation. I’ve heard the GZA is doing some different things in his career lately, but what did he have in common with a ragged psychedelic rock band?
Weed. Weed. I would bet Donnybrook’s entire pool boy fund that this collaboration started in the Green Room.
Father Guido argued that it was planned, that the Black Lips are hip-hoppers in their own right: they have gold teeth. Nuff said.
The GZA made out with a girl in the crowd, then talked shit to a dude. Then a girl must have shown her boobs, because he said, “Yeah. I like those. Thanks.” He was the swaggering king of the show, and he bathed in it for a while – perhaps too long. The only time anything really happened was when they all played “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” which was actually exciting enough to make up for the whole rest of the show. The GZA kept demanding that the Black Lips drop the beat, drop the beat, until it was barely there, taking an excruciating amount of time to get to a place of near-silence for him to wait three more beats to finally utter: “One love.” Fingers thrust up in the air. Sometimes he lost his place, and he repeatedly informed the audience that they’d never played together. Every once in a while, the smallest Black Lip, the one with the sideways baseball cap, would chime in with his eerie whooshes and sound effects – effects that sound excellent against a backdrop of psychedelia, but seemed to puzzle the larger-than-life GZA. It was…HILARIOUS!
But why should I hate on such a brave jump across genres? Donnybrook is fueled on booze-fueled moments of heroism.
When the Black Lips finally played their tunes there was a raging mosh pit in which Rose, Guido, and I indulged alongside the lead singer of Japanese Motors. The Black Lips really do the messy ragged crazy rebellious thing well. Rose almost died a few times and I was twittering from the midst: “my dedication to Twitter is phenomenal.”
1:10 AM: King Khan and the Shrines. Their blend of hyper-saturated funk jangled from a stage brimming with gold-sequined dancers, percussion-shakers, tambourine players, horn players, and a general circus-like melee of everything in-between. It was as if the bands of Berry Gordy and Phil Spector joined forces.
Here is the list of the band members from their Myspace: King Khan as Himself, Bamboorella – Gogo Queen of the Underworld, Ben Ra – Space Sax, Big Fred Roller – Big Sax, Till Timm – Tn’T, Fredovitch – Orgasm, Riddiman – Bass, John Boy Adonis – Skins, Ron Streeter – Percussions, Simon Wojan – Trumpet, Guitar and last but not least Hondo Swilley – Gay Blade
Don’t you want to hang out and do drugs with these people? I would listen to this crazy music all day except I might explode from fucking happiness.
Stay tuned for the last days of Angora’s travels in Austin!