SXSW Metal Vacation 2009: Day One and Day Two
The Bartender brings you everything face-meltingly metal from SXSW 2009. DAY ONE:
The first thing Devin said to me as I walked up with my backpack to his and Justin’s tour bus was–(looking at my giant backpack)– “Damn, what are you –a girl?” I hadn’t even stepped on the bus and I had broken the first rule of being “metal” – bring nothing of comfort.
The contents of my backpack were as follows – for a 6 day trip, I brought: 4 pairs of socks, 4 pairs of underwear, 4 shirts, one extra pair of Wranglers, a sleeping bag plus pad, toothbrush and deodorant; I also had a separate shoulder pack containing a book (D.F.W.’s Oblivion), my computer, camera, notepad and appropriate cables and chargers.
A modest cache of supplies, I thought, but compared to the other guys I looked like a mountaineer prepared for Everest. I’m pretty sure Justin only brought two extra shirts and Devin didn’t even bring a toothbrush or deodorant. Ben, the fourth member of our crew who also plays in a local Denver metal outfit called To Be Eaten, had ass-length red dreadlocks that occupied more space than what he brought in his duffle bag.
The trip went underway despite my faux pas – I never did live it down, and I had to accept the fact that I was the least “metal” out of the four. At least I didn’t compound my mistake by bringing my mom as I had originally planned.
Our first destination, and the only other city out side of Austin that Adai would be playing, was in Amarillo at a venue called the “The 10th Street Deli.” As it turns out, the 10th Street Deli is not a deli at all. Our hopes of free cold cuts on rye vanished when we saw the place: a simple warehouse space distinguished with little more than small sticker labeled “The Deli.” It was one of the few occupied buildings in a row of empty storefronts on 10th street in the decayed downtown of Amarillo.
According to some of the musicians and artists in the D.I.Y. venue, Stanley Marsh 3 is the benefactor behind the 10th Street Deli. (Stanley Marsh 3 is a millionaire art patron in Amarillo who paid for some amazing and brilliant art installations – like the Cadillac Ranch and the Floating Mesa, amongst many other fantastic projects.) Having Stanley Marsh 3 behind your D.I.Y. venue is beyond cool.
The kids occupying the vibrantly graffiti’d D.I.Y. venue were all mostly young hipsters, bouncing around, drinking and smoking prodigious amounts of weed and listening to chip tunes. When we arrived, one of the residents, who was skating a plastic road barricade, came up to the bus and reached out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Weedhead.” I think at that point, we knew we were in store for a lot more fun than cold cuts on rye.
Adai played first that night right before local rockers Argonaut. Ben and I set up the merch booth and helped unload Adai’s insane amount of gear. The Deli packed out pretty well during this time. Adai’s set went off flawlessly despite some light issues. When people first see Adai they are generally blown away at the intensity of the two-piece post-metal band. After seeing them live now several times, I can tell you without any doubt that there are no bands in the world that can do what Justin and Devin do on stage. Check out the video from their set. This one is a new song.
Argonaut was what Justin and Devin called a “just for fun” band, which means, that it was loose, drunk and ripped as hard as possible. Many people showed up despite spring vacation. Adai was able to get paid enough money to cover the gas used to drive the 357 miles from Denver to Amarillo, which for most bands, gas money is all they hope for.
The night ended at Max’s house, the guitarist from Argonaut. We drank an entire bottle of Wild Turkey honey that night and I watched people stumble back and forth from the 5-foot bong and the tornado bong, snorting hydrocodone (?) in between. We fell asleep around 3am. This would be the earliest bedtime for us until we returned to Denver 6 days later.
Waking up and driving all day with a hangover is what I like to call “not fun.” We had to leave at 9:30am from Max’s, which in “metal” time is like 5am. Devin bravely took the first shift and the rest of us slept, which is only slightly less brave.
For directional advice we used a GPS service called Tom Tom, which we affectionately called Tom, When it routed us through Oklahoma City, wasting several hours we disaffectionately called it Fucking Tom. For the most part Tom made it so we really didn’t even have to think about where we were going.
We arrived in Austin at 11pm. We initially parked, next to Mohawk, but moved the bus a little later into a permanent spot right on 7th and Red River. We met up with Ben’s friend in Austin, Carrie, who would graciously let us sleep on her floor, wake up her roommates at insane hours of the morning and generally stink up the place.
Our P.O.A. was to go see Constants and Caspian at Plush. Devin and Justin immediately embraced all their friends from Radar Recordings. There were at least four bands from Radar and several other bands that Adai is good friends with. All these bands parked their buses and vans on both sides of 7th Street, which made it into a wicked block party for 4 straight days.
Our first show of SXSW was amazing. Two post metal bands from Radar, Constants and Caspian, played back to back and both killed it. The buzz around Caspian before SXSW was that they had an epic live show. They easily lived up to it. I recorded some video below. The Caspian clip is one of their less frenetic songs and the video quality is shit, so please just take my word for it and SEE this band live.
After Caspian’s set, I knew that that this was going to be yet another memorable SXSW experience. Ben, Devin, Carrie and I all decided to try to find an after-party.
To find an after-party in SXSW is easy, but getting into the after-party can be impossible without the right connections. The Bartender just so happens to know the mother-fucking king of SXSW, the Tina Turner ala Thunderdome of SXSW, The one and only – Ricardo Baca. All it took was one text: “After parties?” His reply, “Red Bull party! Follow Cesar Chavez till you hear music.”
Admittedly, this response didn’t get everybody motivated to go. There was some doubt. It was 2am. “Can he get us all in?” “How far is it?” I had to tell everybody to just trust me.
The bright red and blue neon Red Bull sign at the rear of the stage was the first thing we saw. “Daaamn,” we all said simultaneously. Ric met us at the rear entrance and escorted us in. Devin was the first one through the I.D. station where they gave us Bazooka Joe style temporary tattoos that would function as our passes for the rest of the weekend. Devin scouted ahead and moments later ran back yelling, “Open bar!” Ben and I looked at each other and did our “metal” pose, where we raise our hand like claw and make the meanest face possible while growling. We practiced this pose tirelessly throughout the trip.
We all ordered two Red Bull Vodkas each and began the enjoyable process of poisoning ourselves of with alcohol. Admittedly, we looked a little out of place. Most people were dressed nicely and were well groomed. Devin and Ben and I looked pretty scummy in comparison. We brought a backpack and our shirts were filthy. Everyone else politely carried just one drink while at times we were carrying three or more. We danced and laughed our asses off all night.
Lady Sovereign played the Red Bull “Moon Tower” after-party. I’ve never listened to her music, but that night she was fucking brilliant. It was probably the combination of the drinks and all the fun we were having, She was funny and her music kept the party going.
The night ended at 5am when the Moon Tower shut down. We stumbled back to Carrie’s sloppy drunk. We woke up her roommates talking about how much of a fucking blast SXSW is, and how this night had blown away every expectation we had had. It was only our first night in Austin!
Days 3 and 4 coming soon…
Keep drinking and tipping,