Friday morning brought one realization: I feel FAT. Two nights of overdrinking and overeating left me feeling large and not very in charge. Luckily, today was the annual South By Southwest Hoops Extravaganza. A small group had been rounded up in the weeks prior to the convention and we gathered in the lobby of the Omni to caravan out to find somewhere to play. Aaron Axelsen of Live 105, Matt Shay of J Records and Tapes, Epic's Pete Giberga and Kallao of KQXR. Even Dreamworks' Matt Smith was there, fresh off his interview of a female football player for the California Quakes for the Kevin & Bean show (ask him about that one) and resplendent in an LA Sparks jersey. Only one question: where was Jon Cohen? We managed to get in an hour and a half of attempted fat person, beer-sweating basketball, but at least it made us feel like the overindulging we would continue with was somewhat deserved.
The first proper event of the day was the Spin party, where I caught afternoon sets by D4, Sahara Hotnights and the dance-tastic Hot Hot Heat. The grin on Phil Costello's face showed he knew how special the boys from Victoria were, as well. Next was, what else? A late, but light, lunch. After all, we DID run around for a bit, right?
That left only an hour to spend at the afternoon's Arista party where we missed Spymob and Wakefield but witnessed the Gob set, which included adidas merch raining down from the upstairs landing, as well as a nod to the in-the-house Pharell of N.E.R.D. with a one-minute rendition of "Rockstar." Shannah Miller was running around facilitating all entries and generally running the show, like the promo queen she is, although perhaps a bit harried. It was Friday evening and peeps seemed to be warming up in a hurry to the night's events. Or was that getting heated?
V2 were the virtual owners of the evening, with their showcase planned, and they had a delectable dinner event to celebrate that fact. Louis 106 was the locale and the man of the hour, other than the heralded Matt Pollack and his excellent pigeon story, was Rick Morrison, who wowed the massed diners with his wine expertise. Maybe a little too much, in my case. While the majority of the table left to go see Grandaddy unleash some new material, I went off to a much smaller venue to watch ex-Giant recording artists Prime STH. Something about those Swede's 2001 album Underneath The Surface had resonated with me, so that was my evening's jump point. The set was OK, consisting primarily of new material to showcase to potential labels, but set closer "I Don't Envy You" made it all worth it for me.
I called about 20 people seeing where they were for the next show and decided to hook up with Warner Bros./Flypaper A&R man, Braden Merrick at The Sun at Buffalo Billiards. Not exactly the best decision I ever made, but no harm came of it, other than watching 15 minutes of a band that wasn't exactly doing anything for me. Perhaps I just have a bad attitude, however.
The 11 O'Clock hour definitely did something for me, however. Finally getting a chance to witness Bolton, England's Kinesis after missing them by only one day on two separate voyages to London was something I had anticipated greatly ever since seeing their name on the SXSW docket in February. I was not to be disappointed. My boys Merrick and Giberga were again in attendance, watching this quartet of teenagers rip though song after song of incendiary guitar mayhem. Second single, "Billboard Beauty," which featured on Player .038, was especially riotous, the hook weaving its way in and out of my brain for the rest of the evening. One of the top three bands of the week.
V2's showcase was next on the docket, and their piece de resistance, The Datsuns. It was my first time to view the tight-panted '70s rockathon the New Zealanders bring to the stage and it was entertaining, indeed. Rock star poses, throwing shapes and riffs aplenty featured in abundance, as did beer. Did I mention drinking yet this week? "Harmonic Generator," "Motherfucker From Hell" and "I'm In Love" all sounded splendid in this venue, just as Blur's set the night prior. As their set ended, I was now faced with the biggest conundrum of the week.
Should I see Idlewild, who issued my favorite album of last year with their brilliant The Remote Part, or should I see the emotastic Hundred Reasons, who I might not get to see again, as Columbia does not seem to have picked their option on the band? In the end, I chose...Hundred Reasons. It was a great decision, although my grain and hopped up situation would have made either choice stellar. Hundred Reasons ripped through a great many tracks from their debut, Ideas Above Our Station, including a number of the singles. "If I Could," "I'll Find You," and "Falter." I drunkenly screamed for their debut single on Fierce Panda, "Cerebra," but my new friend Dave McGeachan, who books the famed King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow, informed me, "Sorry, mate. They won't play that one for you." In the end, he was right, but it was no matter. My week had been made by this hook-laden thrashfest.
The music had ended, but the adventures hadn't. I spent an hour and a half on 6th street wandering from insane story to the next. No time for all these stories, (like my human Gravitron treatment of Carlyn Kessler; the highlight of her week, I'm sure) but crazy shit happens on that street late at night. I do have one last story to relay. As I finally caught up with Axelsen and Adrian "The Mini Mogul" Moreira of RCA Records, I witnessed the aftermath of some insane drunken food fight. The remnants were everywhere in the room and I was so perplexed about it, all I could do was laugh, which is what it seemed like they had been doing for the prior hour. A night for the memory banks, indeed. Provided I have enough brain cells.