Aquarium Drunkard Day Party @ The Hype Hotel 03.15

Posted March 16, 2012 in
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I stumbled into the Hype Hotel looking for a way to kill some time on Thursday afternoon. I didn’t know who was playing, but figured that entry to the Hype Hotel would likely come with a few free cocktails. Drink tickets in hand I wandered to the bar to grab a complimentary libation. A non-descript soul band was finishing up their set when I arrived. I looked for a set list, found none and tried to ask a camera guy if he knew who was up next. He didn’t. Luckily an iPhone-toting hipster had the schedule pulled up on his phone. When he pointed to his screen I realized that I was in for a pretty awesome SXSW surprise. Lee Fields and the Expressions and Bass Drum of Death were both scheduled to play. “Are either of those bands any good?” iPhone guy asked me, sounding sort of bored. I launched into a rant about how both bands were super rad and was pleased that my attempt to kill some time had turned into an opportunity to check out two bands that I’d been looking forward to.

I squeezed into the front to join the line of ladies that were patiently waiting for soul man Lee Fields to emerge. In typical soul band fashion, the six-piece backing band played an instrumental track to introduce the soul man before calling him to the stage. After their instrumental intro the backing band essentially became invisible, allowing Fields to shine, which he had no problem doing

Fields entered the stage rocking dark flared denim, a massive belt buckle, snakeskin cowboy boots, a short sleeved white button up shirt and a simple gold chain necklace. Fields strutted across the stage as he performed, sometimes shaking his hips and generally treating the audience like a beautiful woman who he was ready to make love with. He swooned with the crowd like a gentleman, told us multiple times how much he loved us and, of course, dedicated a song to the ladies. Watching Lee Fields perform was actually very reminiscent of seeing Charles Bradley perform at last year’s SXSW. As their set came to an end, Fields told the crowd that he didn’t want to leave the stage quite yet. The crowd wasn’t ready for it to end either, and Fields and the Expressions decided to play an encore—a rare treat during SXSW’s notoriously short sets.

Bass Drum of Death was up next. This three-piece garage rock band from Mississippi is worlds away from Lee Fields, but just as excellent. While Fields spent time engaging the crowd, Bass Drum of Death acted as if we were invisible. Both guitarists (they perform without a bass player) had long sweaty hair that covered their eyes and neither spent much time even looking at the crowd. They blasted through their half hour set, never stopping to banter or even introduce the songs that they were playing. Almost everything they played came from their debut album GB City, which was released last April. Although their interactions with the crowd were minimal their music is fast, loose and so powerful that it doesn’t really matter. They played their last song at 3:15 p.m. and exited the stage as quickly and quietly as they’d entered it.  

Three free drinks and two awesome bands. Killing time at the Hype Hotel turned out pretty fucking awesome.