SXSW Metal Vacation 2009: Days Three and Four
The Bartender brings you everything face-meltingly metal from SXSW 2009.
We decided to eat mushrooms before going to the Red Bull’s Moon Tower after-party in the drunken haze of the night prior. Ben confided with us that he had brought some from Denver – secretly, so as not to worry us.
Mushroom possession is a felony in Texas and Colorado, of which 90% of our driving took place.
We woke up around noon on Friday. Devin and Ben’s teeth looked cruddy and yellow – mine too. They felt loose in my mouth, like they belonged to a meth fiend. All that Red Bull and shitty fast food will transform any mouth into a graveyard of decay.
We all felt like a good breakfast was in order. Our stomachs felt shriveled and twisted from the energy drinks. I imagined the concentrated chemicals from the yellowish drink sloshing warmly around in my gut. Nothing sounded better than a healthy breakfast. So it was, after three years of SXSW, I finally ate food that wasn’t free or from a vendor on 6th street. Carrie (our Austin liaison) took us to a restaurant/health food store on Cesar Chavez called “Mr. Natural.”
I had “breakfast tacos,” which is the hangover standard in Texas. The breakfast burrito is the hangover standard in Colorado. Mr. Natural was delicious and affordable. The mango juice sweetened with honey seemed to make the hangover melt away. They also catered to Devin’s gluten free diet and Ben’s animal-free diet.
After breakfast, we split ways with Carrie and her boyfriend. Ben, Devin and I walked back to 7th and Red River to the bus. I needed to write somewhere quiet, so Devin and I went to the Parkside on 6th and San Jacinto for some much needed coffee, which I only finished half of – my body recalling the caffeine with nauseous shudders. We both ordered bloody Marys instead.
After hashing out the gist of the last two days, we went to check out the Mile Hi-fidelity showcase at The Jackalope to see Photo Atlas and Young Coyotes. We met up with friends and had a couple of free beers.
Adai’s main showcase started at 5pm and I needed to get my wristband (SXSW was nearly half over). I met up with Angora and Father Guido and we negotiated a $25 wristband with the very helpful employees of SXSW. I think I ended up using an extra wristband from Denver’s, Overcasters – Thanks, Overcasters!
In the end, I didn’t use the wristband for one single show. It always worked out that I knew somebody or the show was free anyway. I love SXSW.
After getting the wristband and a relaxing pool party at Ric Baca’s hotel, (which I hear went “boys-gone-wild” right after I left – kinda glad I left) I nearly ran back to Plush in order to catch Adai again. I was too late though. Plush was at capacity when I walked in. Devin, Ben and Justin were taking down their gear. This was a huge show for them and from the looks of it they sold out.
After getting the gear loaded up, we tried to go see Silversun Pickups at Stubb’s. We didn’t realize yet that Metallica was about to ruin those chances. We should have seen it coming – the streets were filled with Metallica Zombies – the middle-aged, implantinum blondes and scummy old rockers wearing their nearly disintegrated “Kill’em All” t-shirts. When Metallica Zombies make eye contact with one another they grumble “Metallica!” like zombies chanting “brains! brains!”
I offered to buy the security guy at the rear entrance a shot if he let us in. He “pssshhh-ed” me and said that he’s been offered no less than $100 to let people in. As we contemplated rushing the gates, we heard Silversun go on. Silversun was just one band on our list that night, so we walked off.
We headed back to Red 7 for some much needed whiskey shots. The bartender was heavy handed. Four shots later, we piled to the front of the indoor stage to watch the insane line-up of Black Tusk, Kylesa and Skeletonwitch. Check out the videos below.
Skeletonwitch is the most metal band I have ever seen. It’s almost comically evil, like watching “He-Man – The Strongest Man in the Universe.” They played harder and faster than Metallica could ever hope to play. The circle-pit reminded me of the first ring of hell. In between songs, we’d run out to watch The Queers at Red 7’s outdoor stage and start circle-pitting there too.
After the show, with a head full of death-metal and booze, we climbed into the bus and chomped down on some mushrooms for our journey to the Moontower.
While smoking some weed in the bus, I heard a strange hissing noise. Chalking that one up to hallucination, I ignored it. Then I heard it again, coupled with a knock on the bus’s step-well style levered door. I opened the door and a concerned young girl informed me that someone was slashing our tires.
I asked her what he looked like, but she said she didn’t get a good look at him – skinny with long hair. Urgently I told the people in our bus – which was Devin, Ben and Joe from the band Junius, what had happened. “We gotta find this motherfucker!” I remember saying. We poured out of the bus. Joe and I ran down the street, and when I turned to see if he was with me I saw him fighting some dude – skinny, with long hair. We were right in front of the Side Bar. I was too wasted to ask questions and immediately started helping take down this guy, which wasn’t hard. The slasher’s friends started trying to get Joe and I off, but they didn’t realize that every other person on that block are friends with Adai. It very nearly turned into a street brawl.
We had the slasher pinned to the ground when Devin ran up. I’ve never seen such rage. “You’re fucking dead, motherfucker!” I remember Devin said. We pulled the kid up, trying fully not to just stomp the kid, but to wait for a cop to show up. After about 15 minutes, things calmed down and we tried to get the kid to admit to what he had done. I saw a knife clipped to the kid’s pocket and took it. Joe from Junius said he knew this kid and that he had a beef with him over a girl and the reason why he slashed our tires was because that he probably thought it was Joe’s van, not ours.
In a moment of calm, the kid made a break for it and ran down 7th and we never caught him. As I ran down the street, I saw a cop, in her car eating some fucking food, not paying attention to the street brawl not even a block away.
Devin, Ben and I walked back to the bus. Justin was talking to a cop at this point. Devin, Ben and I were totally tripping at his point. Mushrooms and violence don’t mix, at all. The adrenalin just enhanced the trip. We knew we couldn’t explain anything to a cop, so we left. Justin didn’t eat any mushrooms so he dealt with the cop.
We took a cab over to the Moontower and my emotions wavered back in forth from being thrilled that we caught the guy who slashed our tires and satisfied that we gave him a justified beating, to being weirded out by all the violence. Devin was especially weirded out because he tried to stomp on the kid’s face – brutal! Devin also had a nasty bite on his arm. The weirdness faded eventually and we were able to enjoy ourselves.
In my journal, I wrote that we saw Shwayze and Kid Cudi that night, but I only remember tripping out and laughing my ass off. We ate some more mushrooms too. I remember at 5am when the Moontower closed, we tried walking onto one of the tour buses out on the street thinking it was a bus to take us back to Austin. Turns out it was Shwayze’s tour bus, and this troll-looking bus driver chased us off the bus. This started a laughing fit that didn’t end for hours. It wasn’t until we got to Carrie’s house and found the door locked that the laughing stopped.
I think we woke somebody up with our laughing because one of Carrie’s roommates came to unlock the door. She told us that another band had already crashed out on the floor. We decided to go back to the bus and sleep there.
When we got back to the bus the sun was up. The mushrooms wore off. We piled into the bus and attempted to sleep. Devin tried to sleep curled up tightly in the stepwell of the doorway and I had my feet above him on the driver’s seat while the rest of me was on the floor. We didn’t sleep.
At around 11am Devin and I got up and decided to get some food while Ben and Justin slept. I hoped that when we returned they would be awake and we could take their spots.
Day 4 was ruinous from the get go. After a 4-mile walk to Whole Foods to get some breakfast tacos, Devin and I slept in the bus. Despite the heat we slept till 5pm. I remember that I finally changed my clothes this day and it felt refreshing. It was tough getting into shows. We saw Cursive and Milemarker and just missed Young Widows. Haggard, we decided to get a twelve pack and go to Ric Baca’s pool party again. We chilled out for a few.
Photo by Ric Baca
Later that afternoon we walked from venue to venue trying to get in, but it was looking like the Moontower was going to be our only hope.
Ben ate the rest of his mushrooms before we got into the Moontower. Devin and I just drank. Ben ate a lot, too. It was his birthday and he wanted to wig out.
After Goldilocks went on, about halfway through her set, the cops shut down the music. We could still hang out and drink, but no music. What a bummer. We stayed until 5am again and were wasted as ever.
We ended up crashing at Carrie’s again. Saturday really just felt like an extension of Friday. The excitement, the drugs and lack of sleep blurred reality at the edges. I was beyond wasted. Watching Ben trip his ass off again while I was spinning from the vodka registered in my brain as some kind of invisible line that we had crossed. We had partied harder than anybody had and it showed.
Our clothes were filthy from fighting in the street. Our faces were unshaven and our teeth were even cruddier than yesterday. Devin’s shoelace had been untied since we left Denver. We had this punchy kind of humor – a devil-may-care attitude. It seemed like people partying at the Moontower gravitated toward us to revel with us, but also to watch us spiral out of control. At that moment I felt like pushing it even harder – let it ride.
I awoke on Sunday and I knew I had blacked-out some of the rest of the previous night, but my let it ride attitude still lingered.
SXSW was over for most people on Sunday, but for Adai, Ben and I it was far from it. Adai had another huge showcase at Red 7 on Sunday. Plus, we still needed to settle the score with the slasher.
Days 5 and 6 coming next week.
Keep drinking and tipping