Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Posted March 13, 2008 in
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SXSW Blog March 12, 2008

Dear Penelope Fritzburger,

I always wanted to call a diary by a certain name. I pictured you like a friend, but sort of an English friend, a friend that was older than me, who drank tea. Maybe a friend who could be a librarian. Because everyone can trust a librarian. Also, it makes me feel more titillated and simultaneously more inhibited telling you certain things, but I think this is better than calling you Johnny Meth.

So dear Penelope, yesterday after I got off the plane, I found out that my hotel didn't have a shuttle, and the generic shuttle downtown cost $13. So I did what anyone else with only $150 and four days of band merch to buy in cash would do ... I took the bus for 50 cents, where I met a lovely girl from NYC named Maria who was carrying a cello around in a big silver case. She lent me 20 cents for the bus ride because I didn't want to use a $5 bill and they don't give change on busses, and I in turn propped up her cello while she went to go talk to the bus driver. She was playing in three bands at SXSW, all of which she plays with in NYC. Then I started talking to a boy named Ryan from Columbus, Ohio, who was surprised to learn I fly into Columbus all the time to go visit my parents in Dayton, Ohio. He was playing in two bands, Pink Reason and Psychedelic Horseshit, and possibly an impromptu solo performance at some random place that he didn't know of yet. I repeated all five band names back to the two musicians and promised I'd make at least one of Maria's three and one of Ryan's two/possibly three. Then I got off the bus and found out Maria was scheduled to play at the hotel I was staying at. We walked the three blocks there and I went up to my room and showered all the disgusting oil that was lathered in my hair from the humid Texas night. Before I showered, though, I made sure I was in the right room, with Angela, Maddy Miller from the U.K. and Shoko from Japan.

The first person I saw that I knew after we left the room was Chase, who has been Angela's SXSW buddy for four years. I saw him the first couple times we came, but not last year. He is a local promoter and has all sorts of crazy, obscure connections. I asked him if I looked older, like a dried-up old prune. He said no and chided me, telling me that even if I did, which I didn't, what guy would tell me that? Which didn't make me feel much better. All night he made jokes about me being old like a dried-up prune, telling me the shoes I was wearing are what the young kids are wearing and I look sort of weird in them. He told me I need to stop trying so hard. I think it all started when a concert promotions company called me in the airport Wednesday morning and the first thing she asked me about my band Subrosa, after asking for our myspace URL, was how old we were. That really bugged me, because I never think about my age and don't think it's important, not for the type of music we are making. Every once in awhile I'm reminded of how important a female's age is in the music industry at large, though.


 Earthless playing at the Tee Pee Records Showcase

The first band we saw was Earthless off Teepee Records. They were great, but about 15 seconds into watching them, I realized I had already seen them play in SLC like two months before. They played for an hour straight until the drummer got a big sweat stain across the chest of his T-shirt. So after about 10 minutes I was OK about leaving, because we had a ton of other bands to see. Not that I have anything against seeing a hot, sweaty man play drums.

Earthless Jamming into Infinity

Next we saw The Slits, an old UK punk band that was one of the first all-girl punk bands, from 1976. Then the lead singer moved to Jamaica and became Rastafarian. So now they're The Slits with reggae guitar and songs called "Kill Them With Love." I've always been a fan of killing them with hate, but oh well, I guess. The lead singer mooned the audience and the drummer looked like Julie Andrews, down to her modest jumper. I seriously expected to see her jump up and start singing "The hills are alive ..." But later I saw her drinking a beer so that image was sort of shattered. I know I'm sounding picky because ... this is THE SLITS, yeah? But the sound of the guitar just didn't gel with me; it was through a clean channel, with no distortion whatsoever. But I'm not sure if you like distortion, Penelope, my librarian-personified journal. And you were probably upset that Julie Andrews was drinking a beer.

The Slits' original guitarist filming the band's new lineup.

Also, you'd probably be upset about the lead singer saying, "You can find us on myspace at myspace.com-slash-the-slits. Slash-the-slits! Ha ha ha!" with a big, knowing smile.

The Slits:Remixed with new younger Members

Next I got a piece of pizza and I burned my tongue. Then we went and saw the tail end of Witch. Witch is also on Teepee Records, they also played at Bourbon Rocks where Earthless played, and they had J. Mascis drumming for them. His hair was long and completely grey and it looked like he had gained some weight. I know, I know, Penelope, I shouldn't notice things like that, but I noticed because for some reason he struck me as being stressed out, burned out and sad. I even checked his finger for a wedding ring, because even though he's not my type, I didn't want to think about him being alone and unloved and having no one to go home to after banging away on his cute little drumset at SXSW. He was wearing glasses and looked more like a mad inventor than a drummer in a pseudo-stoner band that had too much treble and was sort of forgettable. I sure love J.M.

Witch with J. Mascis on drums,

Next we went somewhere to try to see Dub Trio, even though I had already seen them in SLC a month ago, but they were over. So we went back to The Elysium to see The Dicks, an Austin-based punk band who gained international acclaim back in the 80s. This is the first time they've played together since breaking up in the 80s. The Dicks had small trails of legendary light trailing behind them when they played; they still had that nasty, defiant aura even though they were all 50 and the lead singer looked 70 and like he should be in a retirement community in Florida named "Golden Beach Villas" and dandling red-cheeked grandbabies on his knee. Or at least playing a mean game of solitaire at the local Mabel Maye's diner. He wore a tiny party hat on his head that was slightly bigger than a candy corn. He had tons of energy and was still able to belt it out after so many years of keeping it in.

The Dicks: Together Again.

At one point an "honorary Dick" came up on stage and sang, a girl, a friend of the band. It sort of felt like a big reunion party, those sorts which make you feel like an intrusive outsider who would never really get it, to the point where you go slink off to the potato salad table hoping not to be noticed, but a party which you can't stop watching nonetheless. The lead singer also wore a skirt and kept grabbing his crotch. Bad grandpa! But even if you might disagree, Penelope, I think if people over 50 want to grab their crotch, they should be able to.

We tried to go see The Aggrolites but they were over. We went home and got nine hours of sleep in preparation for our day tomorrow. Which is really the rest of today.