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SXSW Day 4 – or, the day my age caught up with me

March 26, 2008

It’s Day 4 of SXSW, and I’m reminded of my trip to Las Vegas, which was nearly 10 years ago. I was there for 3-4 days, and each night I slept for 3-4 hours, only to wake up and walk all over Vegas, do some gambling, eat, check out a show… somehow I managed to function like this for several days in a row without it really affecting me. I think I was just so excited to be there, and didn’t want to miss anything, so I just plowed through. The main difference between then and now though, is like I said, THAT WAS 10 YEARS AGO!

So here we are, day 4 in Austin, and my mind is saying Go Go Go, Bands Bands Bands! But my body is saying No No No, Sleep Sleep Sleep! Well the mind wins, or at least it does in the AM. We get up early enough to make it to Magnolia Cafe, where we were to meet my old friend Edgar, who I used to work with back in my Wi-Fi days. It was great to catch up with him and we had a fantastic breakfast; I ordered a breakfast taco which was really good, but Mark’s migas were absolutely outstanding. So a note to anyone visiting Austin, try the migas! They are awesome.

After breakfast we visited the hippie shop next door, bought some cool little trinkets and then headed over to the Convention Center for a final walk through the Flatstock exhibition. Picked up several great posters (Mark got a couple of Melvins and Queens of the Stone Age posters, I opted for “I can has your rock posters”) and a SXSW t-shirt and then headed over to Waterloo Park for the Mess With Texas party. I was excited about getting a short break from music as we planned to take in a lot of the comedians, and as well being outdoors in a park setting seemed like a nice change of pace.

We settled on a spot in the grass and got to see some really funny folks, most of whose names I’ve forgotten! I do remember Janeane Garofalo, who was a lot of fun, Eugene Mirman, and a very goofy duo who called themselves Hard n’ Phirm (which if I remember correctly is taken from their last names, so that’s actually kinda clever).

Kimya Dawson

The comedians were the perfect segue into Kimya Dawson, who was just about as funny and had some great songs to boot. Sure, all of her songs basically start out the same (she even said so herself) and if you’ve heard a few you’ve pretty much heard all of them. But I really appreciate her simplicity, and how she definitely doesn’t take herself too seriously. Or seriously at all. But that’s her thing, and it’s fun, catchy and lighthearted, and I really enjoyed it.

Atlas Sound

After Kimya’s set we just sort of wandered around from stage to stage… nothing really grabbed me until Atlas Sound went on. I was really curious to hear them as I had liked the mp3s I had heard, but was also a little skeptical because I knew Bradford had recorded the album basically on his own and then put a band together afterwards to tour with him. But any doubts I may have had about their live show were erased as soon as they played the first song; I really liked how the songs came off just a little more straightforward and with a sense of urgency that I wasn’t expecting from their live show. A great set that ended up being one of my favorites of the festival; so much that I bought the record as soon as we got back to Atlanta.

Shortly after the Atlas Sound set I started getting a little restless; The Breeders were playing later and that’s who most people were stoked about seeing, but knowing I’d probably be seeing them in a few months in Atlanta, I just wasn’t keen on sticking around until then. So we headed back towards the action, with the hopes of catching M. Ward at St. David’s Church. Well I guess we shouldn’t have stopped for food, as by the time we made it to the church they were at capacity and not letting anyone else in for at least another hour. At that rate there was no hope for catching M. Ward’s set anyway, so we opted for plan b, which was the Kora Records showcase over at Habana Calle.

Donny Hue and the Colors

What a fun little show. I was happy to see WE Fest alums Donny Hue and the Colors, and Meredith Bragg and the Terminals. Donny Hue and his band were really great, so much energy and also crowd participation to boot. It was good to see Olivia Mancini rock out on the bass too; I was a big fan of her band Olivia and the Housemates, in which she handles the songwriting, guitar and singing duties. She’s no slouch on the bass either, in fact she proved herself to be one of the strongest members of a very talented cast of musicians.

Meredith Bragg and the Terminals

After Donny Hue’s set, Meredith Bragg and the Terminals followed with their Elliott Smith-esque, melancholy pop. I had heard Bragg before at the WE Fest, and heard some of his recordings but it didn’t hit me til tonight how much his voice reminds me of John Darnielle, one of my favorite musicians. His set was nice and very pretty, but a little too low-key for me considering by this point I was exhausted. It was only about 11PM, there was still some good music to be heard, but I was spent. All I wanted to do was lay down under a bunch of covers and sleep. It was lame, but I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had seen so much good music that I was fine with just throwing in the towel. So we did, we headed back to our B&B, with fond memories of great music, beautiful weather, and awesome tacos.

The next day at the airport one of the first people we noticed was Thurston Moore. He ended up being on our first flight, to Houston. I felt a little bummed that he was one of the many acts I had hoped to see but missed. But then remembered again all the great bands that I did see, so I was cool with that. SXSW was better than I even hoped it would be, and I can’t wait til next year!

View all my SXSW photos here

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