Donnybrook Does SXSW: The Weekend
Donnybrook attended SXSW, the best upcoming music festival in the country. Ivyy and Angora have put all their half-crazed memories and warped thoughts about the madness on paper, and woven them together. Click here for part one; part two follows, and try not to become dizzy while reading it:
11:00-We wake refreshed for the first and only time this trip, and ask the front desk people for some recommendations for good, Texas-style breakfast places – something local.
“There’s I-Hop and Golden Corral,” says the lady.
“We were thinking of something we could only get here,” we say.
“They don’t have Golden Corral in Chicago,” she points out.
So we just go to the Mohawk and secure our fancy VIP wristbands, and eat fancy free tacos, and drink a ton of fancy free drinks. A ton.
1:00- Cadence Weapon is the shit. A quirky emcee and his DJ rock it in the hot heat, the DJ climbing around the stage in a coonskin hat. The Emcee asks the crowd who’s live blogging, and someone raises his hand. What dedication! Then the DJ’s kit melts. It’s fucking hot. I make the realization that, after my fifteen-hour drive, I have forgotten to shower.
Indie hip-hop mashup artists Hood Internet spin some fabulous tunes in between sets. Monolith creator Matt Fecher says he was inspired to book Hood Internet for this party after discovering them on Father Guido’s Snobcast. He also decided to make Monolith more hip-hop friendly because of him. What can we say? Father Guido comes from the happy land of special.
2:00- Club Deville outdoor stage, I’m 4th row center for Peter Morén of Peter, Bjorn, and John. A few songs in he forgets the lyrics and stops mid-song, cutely and shakily flustered. It’s so human. And so un-rockstar!
2:15- Peter gives good shtick. In between songs he tells little anecdotes and smiles and giggles and pushes his hair out of his eyes and stutters and generally makes the whole world fall in love with him. I’m gazing foolishly at him, I know it, and I can’t seem to make myself stop.
Timmy and I, lured by fancy free frozen pops, are late to Peter. We listen to most of him standing in line, get in when he’s done, get a free beer, turn around and leave. This feels like SXSW.
3:30- Rock Crush of the Day: Jens Lekman. So nerdy. Le sigh. The hipsters go crazy and beg for more. He just smiles goofily after a set that included a remix of the 1970 hit “Give Me Just A Little More Time” (where Jens and bandmates danced in sync) and walks offstage. Le. Sigh.
Jens is who I was most excited to see. He’s just so sweet…I have to find Father Guido, because Jens is our romantic music. I can’t find him, and we keep calling each other but not being able to hear one another. Then finally I find him, and it feels like a movie moment. Awwwww.
Jens is great, but I only got a taste. I’m glad we’re going to see him again on my birthday (March 27th). I’m excited to see him indoors instead of at an outdoor tent in the heat – I’m thinking his lush orchestration will really come through.
4:00- I meet up with the Donnybrook Folks at the Hot Freaks Party (The Mohawk), where we’re totally VIP, of course. At least someone in this town knows who we are. We enjoy beverages and food while watching the excellent lineup which includes White Denim and British Sea Power. In between sets The Hood Internet spins. And did I mention the open bar? Ivyy gets disasterously drunk. There will be no more written about Friday night.
Left: British Sea Power. Right: Ivyy and Angora pose with Father Guido and Madden Madrid McClintock, on their way to becoming disastrously trashed.
Ivyy gets disastrously drunk that night, but then again so do I. The two of us waltz into the posh restaurant Cuba Libre rockstar shitfaced, the kind of drunk where one might, say, wash her hair in the sink because she hasn’t gotten a shower in a while. I’m also meeting the Jersey Crew for the first time, and instead of being social I shove happy hour appetizers down my throat in a fashion that just doesn’t represent a fine taste for good cuisine.
During our after-dinner smoke, the boys are trying to rush us along. “Walk!” they say.
“I will do so, but not straight!” says Ivvy, and proceeds to stumble and weave down the street.
We try to find the iheartcomix party, but instead we do cartwheels through the convention center. Apparently the iheartcomix party was amazing: they blocked off the top of a parking garage and threw the largest dance party ever, with free bar and Flosstradamus and Matt and Kim. Ah well. I have seen them before…
The pool calls our name, so we throw a pool party back at the hotel. Attendees include: The Jersey Crew; some random hipsters, the girls all in vintage one-piece suits; and two Denver bands, Cherry Bomb Suicide and the Tards. I actually lure them to the hot tub when they’re peeping at us from their hotel room, and we make rock devil horns at each other. The girl lead singer is awesome, and then breaks out a videocam and tries to get Ivyy and I to flash her. If anyone is interested in seeing Ivyy disastrously drunk, they should track down that woman.
10:00- Free hotel continental breakfast. Saves. Me.
11:00-Antonio’s Tex Mex with a Vengeance: Finally, somewhere Texas-y to eat. Granted, its on the side of the highway with all the chains, but we’ve never seen one before so it’s not a chain to us. Inside it was dark and dank, and the waiter offers us tequila shots to start. He actually offered them specifically to Tim O, asking “Is this the one? He’s the right one?” Tim O was the right one. He had been planning on ordering a margarita the whole time.
The food was heart-stoppingly delicious. Mini-chimis the size of your head. We were ready for day two.
1:00- Know what’s shady? Waiting on a corner in front of a highway gas station for your friends to pick you up. The vultures are circling, and I call Angora and co. begging for them to drive faster. They gallantly swoop in and save me just as the bravest of the 5 would-be gas station suitors is about to stop making hissing and smooching noises and actually starts to approach me.
1:30- Ivyy gets a text from Kathleen: at the Bust hangover lounge, there are “free mimosas and hobbits.” We have to check this out.
The Bust Magazine Hangover Lounge is fabulous. Free mimosas, Bloody Marys, a massage chair, make-your-own purses, oh so cute! It turns out Elijah Wood is DJing in between sets, hence the hobbit bit. They’re all out of crafts for me to play with, so I drink a fabulous drink and we peek at a wee Elijah Wood, surrounded by fans, smoking cigarettes. We decide Tim O should tell him, “You might be Elijah Wood, but I’m tall.”
Then Grand Ole Party comes on, and they’re pretty good. If you’re impressed by hot girl drummers, add to the fact that she sings, too.
Film School- Hot girl bassist. And the lead singer is wearing cheap plastic neon sunglasses just like Angora’s, proving one again that everybody who’s anybody follows the taste-makers at The Donnybrook Writing Academy.
We head back to the Insound stage to see White Rabbits, something we’re all excited about. We’re ready to have our faces rocked off when a nice fellow with a scarf proceeds to sing acoustic stuff and M.I.A. covers. Everyone loves him, and I find out he’s Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal. Maybe it’s because Ivvy and I are all about the White Rabbits, but we’re bored by the acoustic thing.
Then White Rabbits come on. When I hear of bands with piano in them, I think of the Fray or something. But White Rabbits piano is like old saloon piano, dark and off-key. Fabulous.
We park it right in front of the dashing piano man, a man in desperately cool shades with two cold beers, which he downs passionately in between vocals, half the time with a cig hanging out of his mouth, pounding on the keys and singing his heart out.
2:00- Rock Crush of the Day: The pianist from White Rabbits. Seriously, whoever you are Mr. Blondish Piano Player Man, I love you. If you are reading this, come find me and we’ll get married and have piano-playing babies who smoke lots of cigarettes!
There are two drummers in White Rabbits. Sometimes one of them abandons their kit to pound on a giant tom-tom, bash the living shit out of the cymbals with a tamborine, or hover atop the piano man and play frenzied, dissonant chunks of accompaniment on his piano. They smile at each other like they’re sharing an inside joke.
I look at the right of the stage, and a big bearded man wearing a fluorescent orange shirt and fluorescent pink wings is peeking from behind the fence. “Look!” I cry, and poking Ivyy. Then he’s gone. “He doesn’t exist,” she suggests.
2:30- Angora and I run back to The Hot Freaks Party for free food and drink. I decide that, being as so far I’ve spent nothing, maybe I’ll make today the day that I try to get through without spending a single dollar (besides bartender tips), you know, just as a little personal challenge.
The line is insane again. People are crowded outside screaming, someone perched on top of the stage with a videocamera, a girl wearing a hot pink jumpsuit. The crowd and the band onstage are screaming, “Health! Health! Health! Health!” This is Peelander-Z, possibly the best show of SXSW.
Peelander-Z is like super-happy-fun music, or as 28 Deep calls them, super-super J-pop. They flash signs commanding the crowd to yell things; they flash a sign that says, “We need a drummer,” and someone comes from the crowd. That dude drums for them while their drummer puts on a Nacho Libre mask and flashes more signs. The guitarist is playing while crowd surfing. It’s the most mind-blowing show ever. Everyone is screaming and in disbelief. GO SEE THEM!
We check out a little bit of Aloha’s set before leaving for the British party. Aloha is stunning; I want to see more next time!
The bad news is that when we get to the Wombats it’s too late, and it sounds crazy fun in there. The good news is we get to do Irish car bombs with the Wombats right after!
Someone from the Jersey Crew is friends with them or something. One of them comes to our next door bar, looking for the lead singer. He puts his hand out to get car keys or something and I shove a car bomb in his hand. At first he’s confused; then he downs it, and just keeps repeating (in an adorable British accent), “That was really tasty, really tasty.”
3:30- I just bought my entire group of friends and some guy from The Wombats Irish Car Bombs at some bar named Darwin’s pub. There goes my personal challenge (see above).
6:00- Seen on a meathead’s t-shirt at The Mohawk: “No man with a good car needs to be justified.” Ironic? Earnest? You decide. Oh and speaking of ironic, Hanson is playing SXSW!!!! I’m earnestly excited for that show, but if they don’t play “Mmm-bop,” I’m storming the fucking stage.
7:00- Ok, so I know there’s no way I’m getting into the Hanson show, and the Donnybrook folks just want a drink. We take a gamble and walk a thousand miles to the Diesel Party to see a) if it even exists, and b) if there’s anything worth sticking around for.
There is. Open bar and the promise of a set by Ra Ra Riot, a band that I’ve been trying all week to see but who has been completely elusive. I order a vodka and make myself comfortable in the gymnasium style room. Seriously, it feels like we’re at a high school dance. I’m a little nostalgic.
We get kind of bored at this party, and make up party games. Tim O introduces himself to people as such: “My name is Tim and I HAVE A T-SHIRT!” It’s kind of a pretentious party. She and Him aren’t that great. Zooey is cute, though.
Father Guido gets tip-over drunk, so we leave early, trying adorably to hail a cab and instead walking around until we find our car. It’s madness out here, and I want to go home. I want to punch a tweety bird. I’m allll festivaled out.
12:00am- Half of the Donnybrook Faculty completely fail us, leaving before Ra Ra Riot even gets on stage, hit hard by the open bar. It’s just me and The Bartender watching the adorable indie-pop kids who announce that this is officially their LAST show of SXSW 2008. They seem like they’re having a great time, but there’s a measure of relief in the statement, and I agree completely. Time to go home.
Stay tuned for part three of the SXSW journey, where Angora, still stranded in Texas, writes about Wichita Falls!
Thanks to 28 Deep for providing the SXSW photos contained in this series!