My final day in Austin was the hottest yet, literally. I realized late Friday night that the shoes I had been wearing were soon to lose their soles, and after days and days of The Time of Year When A Lot of Bands Happen to be in Austin, TX, this meant that I had to watch the ground like a hawk to keep from being impaled by broken glass and other unsavory debris. Not wanting my Saturday ruined by a tetanus shot, I put my festivities on hold to go on a journey in search of new kicks.
I wandered around Austin without a single prospect before I got a call from a fellow journalist friend asking if I was going to check out the new fashion mini-festival being thrown in conjunction with The Time of Year When A Lot of Bands Happen to be in Austin, TX. I told him no, that I was looking for shoes, and that nothing could stand in my way. He then informed me that there was a truck full of Keds at the Austin Convention Center, and I basically ran all the way back. Thus I clocked my first mile and a half of the day.
Upon arriving at the Convention Center, I bee-lined it to the Keds truck. There I found some lovely ladies painting fancy designs on sparkling white sneaks, and quickly asked where I could purchase a pair. I was then informed that they were not, in fact, selling the shoes but rather were raffling them off to be sent out at a later date. The look on my face must have resembled a kicked puppy because one of the women quickly ducked under the table, asked my size, and quietly presented me with a pair of perfect, pristine, shoes, soles intact. I felt like a Dickensian orphan being given alms, and could have hugged this kind soul for taking pity on me and saving my ravaged feet. Into the trash my old shoes went and I set out to stomp the streets of Austin once again.
I hopped over I-35 again to make a stop at the FORT to see Cass McCombs, eat some ice cream and take a load off for a minute before it got too insane. Listening to McCombs' "County Line" while being enveloped by the smoke machine was a warm and atmospheric start to what would be a jam packed day.
For the rest of the day I posted up at Cheer Up Charlie's for a show thrown by solid gold and Death + Taxes. As my skin scorched and my brand new kicks turned a delightful shade of sandy brown, the crowds steadily built as bands played over two stages. Appealing to a very different audience than the other two major appearances of the day (Diddy at the FORT and Kanye at the power plant), headliners Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Dan Deacon attracted everyone from young local Austinites to major label industry folk.
Standing with Pains' lead singer Kip Berman, I watched as Superhumanoids played their signature sunny, new-wave tinged indie pop. Berman asked who he was watching, and just like that, and inter-band connection was born. This is one of the best parts of The Time of Year When A Lot of Bands Happen to be in Austin, TX.--watching veteran bands meet newcomers, and newcomers meet some of their idols.
Hot air must have magical sonic qualities because in the dirty heat Superhumanoids' singer Sarah Chernoff's soaring soprano seemed particularly chilling, seeming to stir up the dust with every note. Lady voices were well-represented throughout the day, with female-fronted francophone electro-rockers We Are Enfant Terrible getting people dancing early in the day and a packed, thrilling set from Toronto glammy electro-pop band Austra. Austra's set had an arch, startlingly sexy quality, which followed well from the previous set from fellow Torontonian Diamond Rings. Both bands perform with a simultaneously aggressive and playful sensuality that makes everyone in the crowd pump their fists, smile, and reach for the nearest make-out partner.
At this point I made the mistake of wiping my face with a napkin and realized that I was covered in a thin film of sweaty, grainy grime. This meant that everything I touched was turning brown. It also meant that I was not as tanned as I thought, but was actually turning a lobster red that had been masked by the east Austin bronzer known as dirt. I used the condensation from my PBR to try and wipe myself off a bit and partied on, catching a hilarious sound check from headliners Pains of Being Pure at Heart as well as the beginnings of the crush of the crowd, who tried in vain to knock over the fence keeping them from the venue.
As Dan Deacon began to set up and the crowds began to swell, it seemed like an appropriate time to duck out and attempt to find food. I should have known that this would not be easy, and hours and some bitchy complaining to the staff of an eatery (not my finest moment) later, I was fed but also totally wiped out.
Thus ended my Austin adventure. I didn't do nearly as much as I thought I would, simply because there aren't enough hours in a day and I do not have nerves or feet of steel. There was plenty more that happened that didn't make it into print yet, however, so keep an eye out for a re-cap of some of the highlights of my week in the sun.
Goodbye Austin. I leave you with a sunburn and a smile. It's been real.