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South By Southwest Blow-by-Blow Madness



Another South by Southwest, another week of Shiner Bock, quesadillas, NCAA Tourney
action and dope-ass bands. On Wednesday, the SXSW world is your oyster, with
endless brewskis and bands on the horizon; come Sunday AM, you are SERIOUSLY
ready for your own bed...


Wednesday started off with the trek down to the Convention Center to pick up our
badges and bags of free and useless information. "For security purposes" (read: so your
friends can't get in free on your badge) this year's badges included a photo, which,
luckily enough was taken and printed on site, so you had a picture on your badge that,
more often than not, looked like a compressed shrunken apple head Lord of the
Rings
version of you. A treat indeed. The bags were full of nonsense, as usual,
including flyers to shows you wouldn't go to even if you didn't have a badge and CDs
offering the latest in Ukranian folk-metal or something equally enthralling. Amazingly,
99% of the contents found their way onto the hotel floor the first night. Unfortunately,
the gigs of Wednesday were equally engaging. There were seriously slim pickings, so
we checked out OK Go at La Zona Rosa for the opening night shindig, with the
headliners being They Might Be Giants, meaning the audience is already 74%
Dungeons and Dragons fanatics. That doesn't exactly add to the vibe of an showcase, if
you get my drift. Then the Go hits the stage and open with a superb rendition
(really) of "Jesse's Girl" by Rick Springfield and the Shiners and Dos Equis of
the evening are taking hold and all is good. Until the next song and the few after that.
So we OK Went and had more drinks and called it a night on this eve of few quality
shows.

Thursday beckoned with a night of stronger bills and the day started off with extended
TV viewing and beer swilling, courtesy of the NCAA Tournament and Dos Equis. The
MTV2 party looked a hit, with the aforementioned OK Go purposely skipped, but
Ed Harcourt and Starsailor were still to come. We headed next door to
the 101X party and ended up staying there until after the MTV2 party concluded. Good
one, dumb kids. However, we rectified the situation by fitting in many quality shows
later, including sets by the Placebo-esque Serafin, Icelandic
Beastie freaks Quarashi, DJs extraordinaire X-ecutioners and
Milwaukee emo-kids-meet-Smashing Pumpkins, Loudermilk. Things
had gotten better in a hurry.

In an attempt to sweat out some of the previous two days' excesses, it was off to hoop on
the campus of UT. Fellow athletes Giberga, Tierney, Smith,
Spivack and Axelsen all found the event as physically trying as I, but we
had at least a mental victory in thinking that somehow our 2 hours of running about had
balanced out the past 48 hours. Friday night brought the best lineup of events, plus we
finally got to see Ed Harcourt and Starsailor. The show of the weekend
happened at 12 midnight, however, as London's My Vitriol slayed the crowd at
Element. A searingly brilliant show (as had been the previous day's instore at Waterloo,
albeit brief) and one not to miss, provided you live in NYC, LA or San Francisco, the
only other stops on this short-lived promo tour. I dashed across town for Sahara
Hotnights, only to find a line that existed since before the prior act, fellow Swedes
Soundtrack of our Lives. Rumor has it that people at the Soundtrack
show were raving about it as well, stating that it was their favorite show of the week, but
they didn't see My Vitriol, now did they? Regardless, the booking was retarded,
and I would have loved to see both, although catching the all-femme quartet
Hotnights rock their Scandinavian Elastica-flavored punk was a small
consolation

Saturday beckoned, at, oh, about 2PM, with more basketball to be watched, more beer to
be consumed and an earlyish show from ex-At The Drive-In members
Sparta. The quintet, who I'd never seen in either incarnation, was excellent, far
more accessible then their prior incarnation, and with the stereotyped emo/punk sound
now so big with the Kids, bigger things may be in store for the boys from El Paso.
Snacks followed and then it was time for the showcase of the day, with the boys of
South and Ash. South, as formerly chronicled, worked their brand of mellow Stone Roses-inflected groove rock to its fullest, wowing the packed house. Ash, however, brought the damn place down. The band, who are fully-fledged rock stars in the UK, have released four albums and when the set is only an hour long, that basically ensures a hit bonanza. Old favorites ìGirl From Mars,î ìJack Names The Planets,î ìKung Fu,î and ìGoldfingerî meshed perfectly with newer jams like ìSubmission,î Shining Lightî and ìBurn Baby Burn.î Electric is one way to describe it and these kids deserve to be huge in the States.

The weekend was closed out at the Spin party, where I chilled with the Ash kids, perplexing them with stories of how St. Patrickís Day is National Drunk Americans Regardless Of Real Nationality Day and enjoying live sets from the tasty Elbow and South. By this time, it was 5AM and time to get the hell to bed, in time for my 11AM wake up call and subsequent flight. A brilliant week, to be sure, but next time, Iím bringing Michael Jacksonís hyperbaric chamber for added vitality.


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South By Southwest Blow-by-Blow Madness