Andrew and I drove back to Austin for SxSW Music after work. I am only able to muster up the energy to write about this a week later, because that is how long it has taken for me to recover. The intent upon arriving was to go straight to the festival in order to see a few bands; namely R.E.M. and David Garza which were playing the last slots that night (midnight and 1:00a). Upon arriving, we parked and walked over to Cedar Door to have a few beers and grab a quick bite with my sister while bands played in the tent. Since Kasia was working the whole week, I would get to see her in sporadic spurts when she was able to tear herself away from the sponsor desk long enough to take a break.
Upon finishing dinner, we bid Kasia farewell and Andrew and I head to Stubb's to get in line for R.E.M. We hadn't brought our bikes yet, so we were walking everywhere, which takes a significant amount of time comparatively. We get through the line, the guards are checking badges, checking our bags, when they come across my camera. Up until this moment, I've had no problems taking my camera inside anywhere. The staff member asks for my press pass. I'm not press, therefore I have no pass, I'm just taking my camera in like every other Tom, Dick and Shmoe here. Does this camera have a detachable lense? Um... what is the right answer.... Yes? Then you can't take it in without a press pass. UGH.
We treck all the way back to the parked car to dump the camera and come all the way back to wait in line AGAIN. Except this time, the line is much longer and they are not letting people in frequently like during our previous attempt. I also have to pee pretty badly so this is making me increasingly impatient and frustrated. Turns out there was a special "wristband" (I will learn the value of these wristbands as the weekend progresses) which allows the special people on the "guest list" (a.k.a. people who know someone at Stubb's or in the R.E.M. crew or regularly sacrifice their souls to the Gods of SxSW) in prior to badges. It's all about aristocracy here folks. The trick is that Stubb's as a venue didn't "clean out the arena" between shows, so people camped out during previous shows and never left in order to see R.E.M. This kept the venue at capacity with no room for us to get back in, even thought our second time in line was about an hour before the show was to begin. Commies.
We hang onto a single shred of hope that we will get in - we're about 50 people from the front of the line, which is not bad. After R.E.M. starts to play about the 3rd song of the set, my bladder gets the best of me and we walk out of line and run to the nearest restaurant to beg for wash room mercy. Realizing that David Garza will be packed as well, and a very far walk for us, we go to Habana to see The Dexateens (very good energy) and Band of Heathens (good blues/Texas music mix) play. Andrew's friend from high school is in the Band of Heathens, so I meet Gordy and his wife after the performance. I am ready for bed at this point, as the buzz has worn off and I am now sweaty and dirty. The first difference between the Film portion and Music portion is the weather. It was cold here the previous weekend - we were wearing sweaters and jackets - but there was some kind of front while I was at work, and now it's full out tank tops and summer gear. Welcome Spring Break. Bless the weather in this strange state.
We wake up earlier than should be allowed on vacation in order to run some errands before we meet Gemsong and her brother Aaryn downtown. Andrew gets a shiny new bike, we are both excited - he has a twinkle in his eye as he let's me know he hasn't ever owned a bike before that wasn't a Huffy, and the last time he rode one was in high school. Like a kid on Christmas, I tell you. We get to downtown, unload our bikes and proceed to whizz around downtown, party hopping and picking up shwag. Also, note the availability of free beer, BBQ and t-shirts from numerous sponsors. This puts Andrew in total college mode, roaming between representatives, schmoozing for free goods.
We head over the The British Music party where we watch an Irish band, and then The Rascals perform (awesome) and eavesdrop on all the UK accents that make me laugh and feel spritely. Cheerio ol' Chap! Or maybe that was the beer talking. We need to meet Gemsong & Aaryn back at the convention center, so we stop by Flatstock, which is a poster show where various artists sell/display their work. So many great pieces. We met Jared from Mexican Chocolate, and wandered around, imagining what our house would be decorated like if we had limitless income. We bought a poster, a rather risque one at that, of the Flatstock 2008. I can say I am shocked that Andrew wanted to impulsively buy this specific one, to display in our house, as it has a naked woman in a rather erotic pose on the front. He surprises me sometimes, that one.
We meet up with Gemsong & Aaryn and head over to the first concert line-up of the day at Cedar Courtyard, where we take in shows with The Duke Spirit and Robyn. Both shows were great, I will definitely be looking up more music by them. Next up is back to Stubb's, the camera Nazi's, for the Body of War concert featuring Tom Morello, Billy Bragg, Ben Harper, Serj and others. En route, Andrew' bike pedal breaks off - the metal acutally sheared off - and he is forced to curse and walk his bike through Austin. If you know anything about the Body of War documentary, it is as it sounds, extremely left-wing political, and at times, a bit over the top for my taste. It is a moving story, and maybe I will watch the documentary sometime soon. Ben Harper really has a beautiful voice, I must say. Standing in line for these shows, we eat Jaime's Mexican food. The Jaime Margarita = Frozen Margarita with Sangria floated on top = Yum. We have had one bottle of water all day, and before we fall asleep that night, we will have consumed 14 beers a piece.
Early rise to return the faulty bicycle and get a new one. There was much testing and jumping up and down on said new bike's pedals before we left convinced. Lunch was at Gene's Cajun Cafe on the east side, where Kasia has repeatedly informed us of the excellent shrimp poboys. They delivered as promised, as did the banana pudding. Our last day at SxSW we are pushing through to the end, making the most of our time. We start our day at the Dell Lounge party/line-up with The Weakerthans (also good performance), before the humidity created by hundreds of enclosed people with no working AC is too much to bear. After some refreshing coconut-peach water-ice (soft snow cones) we head over to the Fader/Levi's Fort Party. I think this party left the largest impression on us because they served free bottled Stella Artois (Andrew's favorite beer) and Sweet Leaf Teasers (Sweet Leaf Mint & Honey Tea with Southern Comfort), which was deceivingly oh-so-refreshing in the heat. Also they had some interesting bands play (even though The Lemonheads were a no-show), and there were bleachers to sit on, which made us feel very spoiled after standing all day through every show. There was some crazy stuff in the building, Ray Bans sponsored a photobooth where Andrew and I filmed confessions and had pictures taken. Puma was also a sponsor, and apparently very special people (that aristocracy rears its head again) were getting fitted for free sneakers in a special room with crazy lighting.
We decided to check out a party on the west side of downtown around sunset time. We waited in line for what seemed forever, people watching was very interesting. Once we got upstairs, we were admitted to the VIP part of the party (this is where those wristbands come in handy) and proceeded to gaze upon hundreds of people lounging by a rooftop pool. The whole scene was so stereo-typed L.A. - with techno music being spun by a DJ, the line at the bar, everyone lazily dipping their feet while the warm sun started going down. There was a photographer taking pictures in the corner using some kind of effect that makes you look very tan and cartoony against a rocker-esque background. I'll have to post that picture sometime soon. We didn't stay long as the alcohol was difficult to get to and not impressive a selection (look at us becoming snobs - this is what the wristbands do to you). Plus I think it made the guys a little uncomfortable that there were loads of flamboyantly-gay men walking around being a little pushy. I would have like to stay a while longer, but it was time to move on.
As per usual, we're back to Stubb's for the evening shows after dinner and margarita pitchers at Jaime's. This time we watch The Ting Tings (ok), Santogold (good at getting the crowd hyped up), MGMT (I can't remember right now) and The Cribs (not my style). We were waiting to see Sia and N.E.R.D. for the closing of the evening, but at some point, my fuel was running out and I was starting to get nauseous. I kept smelling waves of chlorine bleach that didn't help much. My sister asked me to meet her at Bourbon Rocks, so we bid good-bye to Gemsong & Aaryn before hopping on our bikes one last time to meet up with Kasia briefly at The Helio show. Both Andrew and I look like death warmed over at this point, I've already come down from two buzzes that day, and I was happy to go home and get some sleep, before it got the better of me.
After a quickie breakfast at Progress Cafe with Kasia, we have to drive back to Houston the next morning for my friend's wedding first thing in the afternoon, where the drinking continues, and becomes Latin Dance Fest 2008 well into the evening. Something about alcohol makes me think I can meringue in heels, and that is obviously not so. I can barely walk convincingly in heels, let alone fast dance.