Thursday, March 22, 2007
Only 357 Day Till SXSW 2008!.....Siltblog's SXSW 2007 Scene Report
I was planning on spendin last week in Zurich goin over my various accounts & whatnot when a call came in from Craig Stewart concernin me & SXSW. "We could really use you down here this year Roland. What's it gonna take"? Now some of you might know Craig. I'd never had the pleasure. But I could tell behind that mellow drawl he was one wily Texan. We discussed money, accommodations, my contribution, basically touchin on all the corners that any two respectin horsetraders would hit. After a spell, we worked out a deal that suited us both. I was especially charmed by Craig's wry closer "I'll even throw in sunlight & warm weather". My contacts in Bern had been tellin me earlier how cold & miserable it was over there. Fuck it. Switzerland was gonna have to wait 'cause I was headed for Austin, TX.
I don't know if any you's has seen the TV show about Southwest Airlines but them flight attendants are an irreverent bunch. One of'em will say something like "shift happens" & that'll have passengers rollin in the aisles! What a gut buster they is. This time though I encountered a different, darker side of humor at the hands of the beloved airline. Our main flight attendant was this beanpole fella what looked like George Gervin (circa ABA) & when he got on to tellin us the safety features of the plane, something sounded wrong. It was like he was drunk but he weren't. This Iceman seemed to have a 2nd set of teeth, or an extra long tongue, or the inside of his mouth had been filled w/caramel & Oragel. Whatever it was, you could not understand a single utterance comin over that microphone. I had to laugh at the subtlety of the gallows wit on display. While Southwest was bein all PC, they was also insinuatin "do you really think a little yellow life preserver & a flimsy seat cushion are going to save you from flaming death in the event of a crash? Well, neither do we"! Bravo Southwest. Muchos Perfectos.
After about a 9 hour lay over in Houston (damn thunderstorms, I was beginnin to wonder if Craig had sold me a cat in a bag) I made it to Austin and was met by an old crony of mine (let's call him-Ranger X) who I hadn't seen since our days in Beirut at the top of the 80's. What I was doin over there is still classified, but his deal was runnin hashish outta the Bekaa Valley. He'd then sell it to someone who job it was to pass it on to the CIA & from there it would end up at Wright Patterson over to Dayton, OH. From there it'd get channeled to some, uh, "Good Fellas" & the rest I hope you's can piece together for yourself. Dicey day's for sure! Anyhow, Ranger X had been livin down to Austin for 20 some yrs & was gonna be my tour guide, chaperone & host for this adventure. Only snag was I had to stay in some deer blind of his what overlooked a patch of "medical" marijuana he growed for some "doctor". "Don't worry" he said, "I got claymore's set over the perimeter. That'll keep the varmints & bums away. And if not, there's an old Mauser behind the headboard. Remember, always aim for the head. But we'll worry about that later. Let's go rock".
We made it down to the Sixth Street & man was it ever crowded! Them streets was blocked off solid & though there was a modicum of police presence, the element of danger seemed palpable. Not ominous (like Phillip K. Dick), more obnoxious (like Andy Dick). We made our way to some bar & seen Hank IV deliver some serious skiffle laced Panic Rock. That poor drifter from the Bum-Kon site was right; singer Bob Macdonald has got some moves. It was as if he was part shark; he had to keep movin or he'd die. Them fingers kept goin from his crotch to his lips a few too many times for me, but it beat stumblin in on Lou givin Rachel a blowjob so I didn't say nothin. The twin guitar attack was indeed exceptional & the rhythm section was stellar to boot. A fine way to start the festivities. From there we went somewhere's else & seen Pink Reason. They was pretty killer as well, a much more sonically dense & angular version live as to what's on 'Cleaning The Mirror' . I met the main fella Kevin & he was right nice, introducin me & Ranger to all the band members. They was all real young too. Then we was introduced to even more young dudes what was in a band called Electric Bunnies. Them & Pink Reason seemed to be runnin together-along w/the guys from Psychedelic Horseshit-& I couldn't keep track. They was all the time sneerin & pullin hard on cigarettes. It was like an SE Hinton novel come to life. At some point they all hightailed it to a diaper snappin contest(very exclusive) while we ended up to some Hank IV party. By now it was gettin on into the next mornin. Them Hank IV fella's know how to start the day; they had a whole breakfast buffet set up! Eggs as many way's as you could imagine, pancakes, alligator frittata (yum), grits, fresh fruit...it was a feed. And the drinks; mimosa's, bellini's, some sort of a cactus martini....Man, somebody was gonna get 'got got' here for sure. Met that Libbey Adams woman again. we reaquainted ourselves as she chowed down on a pancake what had bacon crumbled up in it, while drinkin a Texas Twister (tequila, grapefruit & sparkling water). I was more intrigued by the savory pancake. "Oh I use plenty of butter & syrup too" declared Ms. Adams, "but adding the bacon just helps get the job done faster. It's something I picked up from Ricky Williams years ago". Toiling Midget pancakes....I love it! From there the facts blur. Somehow we got back to Ranger X's place for some much needed shuteye. Later on, we managed to get in 9 holes of chip 'n putt golf w/the Holy Mountain label fella. Nice guy too. He was familiar w/the Bekaa Valley which made Ranger X somewhat nervous ("he looks like someone I killed over there", Ranger X confided later, "not only that, he has the mannerisms of an assassin. We better be careful around him"). After that,the 3 of us held our own awards ceremony over to the Green Mesquite w/some fried catfish & pitchers of beer. From there we was off to see Suishou No Fune who played a short set of fuzzy, interstellar, twin guitar overdrive. Them two made me laugh. They was dressed head to toe in black leather & watchin'em make those guitars weep, they reminded me of the Grackles what's all over Austin (sort of like a cross between a crow & blackbird), chirpin & hootin it up from tree to tree. Later we caught a great Urinals set, some more Pink Reason & watched Psychedelic Horseshit DESTROY a crowd of about 30 dumbfounded new fans. I say new 'cause after the set the band ended up sellin out ALL the stuff they'd brought along. Gone! After that I began to fade. I'd been gluggin down Tecate & Petrone's most of the day & it was catchin up. Also, someone had given me some peyote candy & it was doin a number on my noggin. At one point I had this vision of myself in the future, sellin insurance on an Indian reservation. What is going on? Ain't no Indian what want's to buy insurance! I might just as well try & sell ice to Eskimos. Anyway, the futility of that "trip" was bringin me down. So I went back to the deer blind to even out. On my way I ran into them Electric Bunnies fellas who said they was off to a spin-the-bottle party that Larry Clark was sponsorin. I'll bet he is! But I was gettin more & more horizontal. I flagged down one of the bike ricksaws, made my way back to HQ & snored my way into Nod.
Next mornin I woke up to find Ranger X & the Holy Mountain dude had become fast friends. Seems Holy Mountain (I never did catch his name) had a daddy what was an operative w/Ranger X back in the day. Sure is a small world sometimes! We was all jonesin for BBQ, so Ranger X took us down to Gonzales, TX for some sausages & brisket. It took a little over an hour to get there, but boy was it worth it. We went to the Gonzales Food Market & if you's ever get down that way, it certainly demands a visit. We got ourselves a mess of food, then Ranger X took us off to some mysterious ranch to pig out. It was way off the beaten path & it was spectacular to be surrounded by such tranquility. Then as I was feedin on a rack've smoked lamb, I seen a turtle move across in front of some cactus, followed by a hawk flyin out've a mesquite tree w/a snake in it's talon's. What the fuck am I, Billy Jack? It had to be some sort of sign. All's I needed now was to look down & see some Horn Toad givin me directions. Right about then Holy Mountain said we had to get goin back up to the action as he had a showcase what was to start soon. I hear ya! We got ourselves into town just as Blues Control's set got underway. What can I tell you? They was as great as I'd hoped. The waves of strings, effects & keyboards was more clear & crystalline than I'd have expected. They killed-beautifully. After that Wooden Shjips took the stage & proceeded to throw down a psychedelic reenactment of The Battle Of Agincourt where they seize the day, destroy Spacemen 3 & deliver the spirit of Thirteenth Floor Elevators back to their rightful home. Me & Ranger X skedaddled up from there to see Times New Viking light a fuse & blow up a bunch've drunk Bubba's who was waitin to see Peaches. From there Clockcleaner took over & whatever was left alive they pulverized into Lone Star dogshit. Wow, things was really movin! But Ranger X was hittin a wall. He was havin a swell time, but as he's gettin on in years, it was time to retreat. As we was on our way back we ran into Adam from TNV who said he was on his way to a glue sniffers parade & asked us to come along. We demurred & opted for late night Cobb Salad's at Kerbey Lane. I ain't one much for glue these days (shoe polish is way more organic).
Next day we took Holy Mountain to the airport, but not before hittin the best eatin yet which was a Taqueria named La Playa. This place ruled. The best Al Pastor, Barbacoa & Lengua taco's I's ever ate. And the surprise hit was the Ceviche & Cameron tostada's. Mucho magnifeco. Everything was so good me & Ranger X stopped by on our way back & ate again! After that we seen Times New Viking ignite a parking lot at a record store w/a scorchin afternoon set (that you can watch over to the Matablog) then it was off to check on Ranger X's "garden". Seems durin all these festivities there'd been some ruckus. A couple of the claymore's had been detonated; we found the splattered remains of a raccoon & an old bum's hand what had been blown off. There was sobbin comin out of a row of bushes which we could only guess came from the (now) one-handed culprit. Ranger X was madder than a wet hen! He was screamin at the bushes, threatenin to get his pistol but leveler heads (mine) prevailed. We reset the claymore's & headed off to see Jandek.
Yes, Jandek. I figured this was gonna be the emperor's new clothes in extremis. A church full've bespectacled, sweaty fan boys didn't make the charge any less likey either. But I'll be damned, that Jandek put on a goddamn good show. Set up as a quartet -2 guitars, harmonium & drums-it was suprisingly compellin. Jandek's open chord strum navigated the way & when he wasn't singin, it almost sounded like Fushitsusha. When he got to the mike he sounded like, well, himself. There was no mistakin the voice. I seen tear ducts open on a few men in the pews. Seems like an apropros setting for an epiphany I reckon. But we was gettin thirsty & on our way out ran across Jared & Beth from TNV what was headed to a showcase for Columbus Discount Records. Okay, let's! Got there around 9pm & ordered a round of beers as Terribly Empty Pockets got started. They played & played, we got another round of drinks, they played some more. It seemed like they'd been goin for an hour or so when I checked my watch to see the time. It was 9:08. We got the fuck outta there-fast! They's all went to Rusted Shut, me & Ranger X went to see Whose Your Favorite Son, God? Thankfully for us, there was plenty of seats available. I didn't know squat about the band, but the name was so ridiculous I had to check'em out. It was 3 dudes from Sacto; two thin Ichabod Crane looking guys on guitars sportin matchin Magma t-shirts(!) & a snaggly beardo drummer what sang. Their sound is somethin like prog-metal. Imagine if that armadillo tank on the cover of 'Tarkus' came to life & started to fire away. They was cool. Next up was the best band I seen all weekend, Los Llamarada. They was 4 Mexican teens from Monterrey & they slithered out a loose, noisy set of crud that was somethin like 'Forming' era Germs meet's Brian Gregory era Cramps meets Earcom era Prats. There was about 10 of us in the room & we was all spellbound. They could've pushed us over w/a feather. Muchos Fantasticos. Later as they was packin up, Jared TNV was tryin to talk to them about baseball. They just looked at him, pointed at their fingers & laughed. "Beisbol", they said, was for pussies. They was into diamond rings. Jared stood there, stunned. He looked like he'd been probed by an alien. Maybe he had. The kids from Los Llamarada lit up cigarettes & laughed even harder. Then suddenly they was gone. Poof! Vanished into thin air. I heard the word "Chupacabra" right before they disappeared. There was somethin sinister goin on & I liked it. Maybe that new lp of theirs on S-S will open some more doors to their mystery.
And with that we was done. Kaput. El Finisho. Ranger X gathered us all up (me, TNV & the Psychedelic Horseshit boys) & took us to an undisclosed location where we had a roarin bonfire, smoked a brick of 25 yr old Lebanese hash, drank mescal & howled at the moon. It was a fitting end to a fantastic week. Then I heard gunfire off in the distance. I walked over to see Ranger X w/the TNV kids shootin that Mauser. They'd gone & nailed the severed hand of that bum to a tree & was takin turns firin at it. It was just gettin better 'n better. I sat down for a respit & then next thing I knew, the sandman punched my light out.
I woke up to the sound of my cell phone. It was the 1st it'd rang since I got down there. It was Craig Stewart. "Meet me at the La Playa on South Congress" he instructed. You bet! If nothin else, the man has good taste. Me & Ranger X made our way there. As we entered, we seen a fella w/a mop of red hair & a pleasant face what was beckonin us over. It was Craig. We ordered a mess of food (them shrimp fajitas I could kill for) & as we was finishin up, Craig slid a check to my direction. "I signed it & left it blank" he said, "make it out for whatever you feel it's worth". Man, what a cool customer this Craig Stewart is! I've been charmed by some slick dudes in my day but this guy was up there in the front row. I looked at the check, thought about it for a minute, then tore the things in half. He knowed I would too. It had been a priceless experience. We smiled & shook hands. As we was pullin out to get to the airport I seen Craig shoot us some old secret agent hand code. "See...you...both...next...year" it read. We nodded our heads yes & shot back the thumbs up. Your Goddamn right you will!
(all the aforementioned bands-maybe even Jandek-can be reached via MySpace if you wanna look'em up).
(Here are some sites for the places we ate. Not a dud in the bunch; www.kerbeylanecafe.com, www.laplayataqueria.com , www.greenmesquite.net & www.gonzalesfoodmarket.com)