My SXSW: Day 4

Oh wow. Last night was a wee bit crazy. That's probably why it's 2 PM and we're still laying around in bed, flipping back and forth from Revenge Of The Nerds II (why did Anthony Edwards even agree to make this movie if he was gonna be laid up with a broken leg at home the whole time?) to that horrible Joey Buttafuoco movie with Alyssa Milano (Joey and Aimee Fisher WISH they were anywhere near as attractive as the actors chosen to portray them). After a hardly-tasty room service lunch, we headed out to Waterloo Records to do some record shopping.

We caught a bit of San Francisco boy John Vanderslice's in-store set, his tuneful '60s-inflected pop resonating well throughout Austin's finest record store. We met up with Phil Costello, who also felt the need to pick up a stack of new CDs for the flight home. Phil took us back to his hotel, where we waded through the virtual army of industry "players" who find it necessary to hang out in the bar at the Four Seasons instead of actually going to shows, before heading up to his room to hear the new Deftones single. I'm not a big fan, but I think this is the best thing I've heard from them yet. We thanked Phil and headed out the door to the FADER/Levi's party to catch an acoustic set from one of my favorite bands, Idlewild.

The warehouse space was rather packed with peeps watching TVs, playing pool and generally schmoozing. Robert English was moving from party to party, being the ultimate host, and I eyed a number of friends, including Chris Applegren of Lookout! Records and The Pattern, my girl Polly Comber from Chrysalis Publishing and even Capitol's smallest employee, the circus midget that is Lauren Goldberg. I even ran into two of the boys from Hundred Reasons, commending them on their excellent show of the evening prior and confessing my drunken song request. "That was you? We were wondering how the hell an American would know that song!?" was the retort. Amusing. Finally, the boys from Edinburgh took the stage as a three-piece, acoustically working through a handful of their stellar material, including "You Held The World In Your Arms Tonight," "When I Argue I See Shapes," "These Wooden Ideas," "American English," and set closer, "Roseabilty," during which St. Louis' most famous (apparently) show-goer, Beatle Bob, thusly named due to his Fab Four lego hair (he looked more like a stretched-out Rodney Bingenheimer), stood right next to the band, straddling the monitor, and frugged furiously. The sound girl was in hysterics and the band tried not to look at him too much for fear of busting up. Too late, as Roddy Woomble had to cut off a vocal line to keep from bursting into laughter. Highly entertaining and one of the best sets of the week.

Stephanie Hardy of Columbia Records and Cassettes was kind enough to host a dinner prior to her show with The Coral. Seared ahi is always a good thing and it's even better when also at the table is Hundred Reasons' manager, because he used to manage Ned's Atomic Dustbin! How wonderful! However, I didn't let my past life love affect my current dealings and I managed not to completely spazz out. The Coral show itself was a madhouse, with Polyphonic Spree as special guests on the bill and Supergrass headlining, the line was down the street and around the block and the venue was already at capacity. We pulled a few strings, however, and managed to get in a few minutes after arriving to catch the goofy Liverpudlian's set. The amassed throng didn't know what to make of The Coral, I don't think, but on songs like "Goodbye" and "Dreaming Of You ," they definitely could feel the vibe of the '60s songwriting-meets-wig-out madness.

As unannounced "special guests," all 23 members of Polyphonic Spree took to the stage and performed a 45-minute set of wondrous choral pop. The Dallas collective may look like the Branch Davidians on stage and Dallas isn't that far from the David Koresh-led crew's hometown of Waco, but their songs are beautiful and 100% different than anything else going on today. "Soldier Girl" was especially sparkling on the evening, with "Light & Day" coming in a close second. Mike Savage of The Network Magazine, Jacent Jackson and Kallao of KQXR, and Erika Strada of HITS all seemed to be enjoying themselves. The headliners of course, stole the show. Supergrass sounded amazing. With four albums under their belts, they can take a show in a number of different sound and tempo directions and they managed to mix and match tracks from all four albums to a great response. "Moving," "Grace," "Caught By The Fuzz," everything sounded resplendent and as the penultimate gig of the night, it took the honors for the night.

I ended my SXSW experience by heading across town to see San Diego's Pinback. I was supposed to meet my boys Aaron Axelsen and Adrian "The Mini Mogul" Moreira here, but stupidly didn't check my voice mail in time to hear they were hitting the VHS Or Beta gig instead, one they would gush profusely about afterwards. No matter, I really wanted to see Pinback and I walked into the door to see University of Maryland hoopstar Steve Blake's wife-to-be, Carlyn Kessler, so I knew I wouldn't be Jimmy No Friends during the show. The boys from Southern California were great, and while there was no more human Gravitron action, the gig was well worth attending. We headed out to meet up with Aaron and Adrian had a final piece of late-night Austin pizza and headed back to our rooms. An exhausting SXSW for sure, but after gigs by Kinesis, Hundred Reasons, Idlewild, and Rocket Summer and a great time with friends seen far too scarcely, it was a week well spent.

My SXSW: Day 4