The radio blared, waking me from my restful slumber on the final morn of the South By Southwest Festival. Wait. Itís Saturday. Why in the hell is the alarm going off? Oh yeah, itís basketball day. As is part of our yearly routine, we try and sweat out some of the toxins acquired via seemingly limitless drinking and Mexican food consumption by roping in other industry jokers for a few hours of balling. As I had only made time to run one day while I was there, I mentally welcomed the opportunity for exercise, even if bed sounded like a way more fun place. So, we rounded up some fools, and some fools (YES, YOU, Matt DuFour, Matt Shay, and other assorted lazy jacknecks) decided not to play. That was OK, because with Aaron Axelsen, Matt Smith, Robbie Lloyd, Reid Shackelford, Pete Giberga, the lovely Stephanie Harty (girlfriend's got GAME. She moves more off the ball than the entire And-1 team combined) and myself, we could run some 3-on-3 half court action. We jumped in Reidís car and headed out to the damn ghetto where Axelsen said he knew of a court.
Two hours, a few bumps and bruises, and a lot of sweat later, we were back at the hotel showering and readying our assault on the day. Phil Costello had informed us of a TV On The Radio special party and so he came over to the Omni and we headed out. This was just the start of a completely bizarre two hours. We needed a snack on the way down to the party, which was completely off the beaten path, some 20 blocks south of the river. Phil asked the cabbie where we could get a quick bite and we decided on (yuck) Taco Bell. However, Phil, in his generally magnanimous style, invited the cabbie in to join us for our snack. After our quick break, it was back on the road, where Phil directed the driver that we were headed for a ìdead-end street.î After his initial hesitations, Raoul informed us of the only dead-end he knew, which was naturally the correct place. However, it was much different than anything any of us expected. The ìpartyî was a house party being held in a junkyard/metal working space by some people who just happened to invite TV On The Radio to play it as well. They had a keg, a beer bong, and about 30 people with tattoos up their necks and down their arms. I felt like I walked into the extras meeting for Deliverance. A few non-inbreds in attendance had discussed how they had wandered across the property exploring and I figured with my Backstreet Boy roadie appearance, staying away from the main area was not the best or safest idea. Corey and Sara from Touch & Go were in the house, so I knew we were at the right place and I recognized some of the TV guys wandering about after bumping into them in Iceland back in October. The place was totally Twilight Zone, though, and after hanging out for about an hour without the band hitting the stage, but other, less interesting bands playing, and our desire to hit Waterloo Records before our industry funtime dinner with Johnny Knoxville and his cousin Roger Alan Wade at Iowa time (6 PM), we decided to try and figure out a way out of the backwoods and off to the shop. We would walk across the train tracks to Lamar and up to Waterloo, hoping against hope to bump into a cab to take us on our merry way.
When we hit the tracks, a train was actually passing by and we more than considered trying to jump on it to hitch a ride back to town. However, the thought of the next dayís Austin American-Statesmanís headline of ìSXSW Losers Die In Random Train Maulingî caused us to let those passing thoughts pass with the train. 100 yards later as we walked along the side of the road, an ugly-ass Pontiac Aztek pulled over in front of us. I know that Aztek! Thatís how I got back from hooping. God bless Robbie Lloyd and Jenn Zeller, who were the occupants of the Tonka/Lego wagon we now piled into. They had been due for the same party, but luckily came across us first. Off to Waterloo!
Waterloo was rammed full of peeps for the Iron & Wine in-store. The band did sound great, but seeing as we had less than an hour to get to our dinner and werenít going to get much shopping done, we headed out. Except we discovered that you could send employees out as runners to pick up records, if you knew what you wanted, so some of us put in our ìorders,î and half an hour later drove for home (with Phil so selfless he sat in the trunk!) to clean up before dinner.
We were late to dinner, of course, but as people were still milling about drinking, it all worked out. The Knoxville/Wade dinner was filled with programming luminaries, from Axelsen to Smith to Mike Halloran, Marco Collins, Melody Lee, Alan Ayo, Jaime Cooley, Jay Harren and more. Great to meet up with Specialty peeps like Tom Butler, Drew Patterson, Mike Endzel, as well as favorite label buddies Kari Crowley and Jenni Sperandeo. Also great to see Cornerstone peeps like John ìIan Brownî Staub, Sara Newkirk, and the aforementioned bitch-ass DuFour, as well as our lovely hostess, Karen Glauber. The snacks were quite tasty and Wadeís countrified Tenacious D-like acoustic renditions of his tracks like ìPoontangî and ìFrying Bacon Nekkidî had the crowd in stitches. Big ups to my table mate and all around super nice kid, Rudy Gerdemann, while Iím giving my shouts.
With the snacking over, the music began! Many of us rushed over to the FADER Lounge for the wondrous Snow Patrol, where we ran into our lovely Aztek driving pair, supporting their boys. As special guests Icarus Line took the weekís FADER lounge to a triumphant close, I moseyed along to catch UK buzz act Kid Symphony. I managed to convince Axelsen, Smith and Shackelford to accompany me to witness the band fronted by the little brother of Spacehogís Langdon brothers. Chris Langdon shared a physical resemblance to his brothers and could belt it out like Royston, as well. Debut single ìHands On The Moneyî was the highlight, but much of the set was enthralling and I look forward to further KS jams. I didnít not enjoy watching the end of the UNC chokefest against Texas at the bar, but that is another story for another day. I then jetted off to catch Read Yellow rock the house at the Fenway Records showcase. Mark Kates was working the crowd, welcoming and thanking peeps for coming to check out his bands. With Costello, J Mascis, Steve Nice, Steve Theo and Ayo amongst the players in the mix, he had lots of gripping and grinning to do. RY brought the rock in a big way, mixing Fugazi with Quicksand for an emo/sludgecore extravaganza extraordinaire. I wholeheartedly recommend checking them out. Time to head back to the same venue Kid Symphony had played to watch Chikinki. The UK indie/synth/punkers rocked a choppy yet engaging set and had a number of UK heads in attendance, including radio celeb Steve Lamacq, as well as the programming team of XFM in London.
The night was drawing to a close, but there were still gigs to be had. Midnight found us watching Kaito, as the girls and boys from Nottingham rocked their spiky late-era Elastica style indie rock. One last show to go, and while all my other friends turned in for the night, I finagled Adrian Moreira into accompanying me across the river to catch Dizzee Rascal live. Neither of us were disappointed. Playing in a sand-filled tent to a bunch of white indie kids, Rascal's rapid-fire spitting and freestyle genius blew the crowd away. I was amazed at the speed of his flow, and the back-up singer and DJ fleshed out his songs live to near perfection, while still retaining that one-of-a-kind vibe. It was an amazing way to wrap up an amazing week. From meeting a host of new friends to renewing old acquaintances, eating and drinking up a storm, and catching countless cool acts, South by Southwest 2004 was one for the memory banks. Thanks to everyone for theiroverwhelming generosity, especially Costello, Moreira, Gaby Skolnek, and Carlyn Kessler, and roll on CoachellaÖ