Day One -- An American Tale...
There is a hidden cost associated with traveling, at least in the SLC airport—the paintings and galleries that "beautifies" or litters the airport. The majority of paintings in the airport fall under two categories: Sudanese/African art and Utah Americana. The highlights of this include a scene of cow grazing by the artist Earl Jones, Native American skulls and a photograph called "Happy Hills" which was a sand dune with flowers on top. I hope that anyone coming through the airport and looking at this art doesn't think that Utah is nothing but open fields with cows grazing, plain log cabins and artsy crafts or worse that I come from this type of Utah.After arriving in Austin and heading over to the SXSW convention center, I proceeded to go through the rigamarole of registering, planning a schedule, etc. I had seven plus hours to kill before the first band showcase, so while lamenting about the fact that my Editor, Angela Brown was delayed six hours, I set off to find some BBQ palace of pork.
Already on the first day, Austin is a buzz with all sorts of characters: faux hawks, tight pants, bullet belts, British suits and weirdly enough, a Seinfieldian parallel universe of Texas counterparts to people I know in Utah. There was a David Berg look a like who wore tight suits but ate meat, a Ryan Powers clone with a Load records t-shirt and G&B pants, a Ryan Michael Painter rip-off...where am I? Obviously, Austin is the new Utah—haircuts and all.
My first show of the night was an oddly misplaced Austin Strokes rip-off. They had the whole thing down to the last hip, swivel, shake, kick. You may ask, "Erik, why they hell did you see them?" Well, first I wanted to make sure that I didn't miss local home town favorites Tolchock Trio and second, there was nothing really better going on. After all, this was still day one. I whittled away the time reading Cabinet magazine and handing out SLUGs. Then I realized I was in the wrong venue (yet another part of me getting lost, walking around aimlessly and finally pissing behind some shady alley). I finally find the right venue, which was next door stupidly enough, and rocked out to the tuneful allure of SLC favorites, Tolchock Trio.
After this I headed over to another stage to catch what would be the surprise hit of the night, My Brightest Diamond (or something like that) whose front woman would prove to be the new Cat Power (or you could substitute Cat Power for any other woman's voice who not only is super sexy, reaches high registers and wails but also is indie enough to make her own clothing). While they don't have an album out just yet, the live show was really worth it. Cross your fingers here, that over-production and studio time don't kill this project. Next, I saw Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice. The set was pretty standard and I enjoyed it immensely but it wasn't anything too out of the ordinary. Finally, to finish off a three set stint at this venue, I saw part of a WHY? Show. WHY? did I just stay for only half if not only three songs? Quite frankly it wasn't that great of a show, it was sort of dull and the people seemed to be fans of the Swollen Members as well....with all their jive talking, jumping up and down and finally there standardized dance to anything regarding hip-hop—waving your hand in the air of pumping a flat hand up and down like your trying to squash some bread. Funny but not enough funny for 45 minutes.
Finally, I headed over to Mogwai, met up with Angela and met her resident scalper and all around Austin hook-up, Chase. I had heard of Chase previously because Angela told me how she befriended him last year, how he got her into some private parties and was the "hook-up king" from last year's SLUG trip to SXSW. Also, he was supposed to secure us some bikes through a guy named "the rat"... So you can picture who he was supposed to be.
Chase was everything I pictured him to be—he wore a leather jacket, rode a motorcycle, listened to awesome music and definitely looked like he "knew" "some characters." Hell, he even had ice cream with Roky Erickson. While the Mogwai set was incredible, I sort of enjoyed talking to Chase a bit more. The venue was packed and I knew that in SLC I could see them a bit better. Besides, who else knows someone named "the rat?" That's right...no one.