SXSW: Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Posted March 16, 2005 in
So Angela and I had a direct flight to Austin; no layovers, no carting your luggage all over the airport, less chance of nice but boring grandmothers sitting next to you showing you photos of all 19 of their grandchildren and their pug named Geezer.

[View from the plane on the way to Austin]After I ate five iced oatmeal cookies and Angela ate one (vacation's on, sugar ban's off!), we got off, walked 30 yards past the baggage claim turn-off, walked back, got our luggage within five minutes of the little conveyer belt starting, waited _ hour for the 100 Express bus and made it to downtown within an hour of landing and only 50 cents. We met a guy on the bus whose name we can't remember because he didn't have business cards, but he books shows coming through SLC, and used to be a merch guy for Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie. He was a nice guy who planned to couch-surf whilst in Austin and we didn't offer our room number. We rode two blocks past our hotel, walked back, got confused about where the entrance of the hotel was, doubted that the building we had walked around _ of really WAS our hotel, because it was so nice, found the entrance, and checked in. "Man, things are going so smoothly compared to how things usually go with me," I thought, "When's it going to start getting hard?"

[Guy from the bus who didn't have business cards]

The woman at the front desk was so nice and happy I feared that she might be a robot. We stuck all our stuff in the room, blasted the heat (it's a high of 42 degrees in Austin today with rain, probably 50 degrees yesterday, which isn't that awesome, seeing as how I brought only a thin sweater-top and thinner bomber jacket as the only warm things in my suitcase-"It'll be 80 degrees all weekend!" I thought) and went exercising up in Club Omni's "health club" (six pieces of orphaned exercise equipment jammed into a tiny room with three treadmills that don't reflect how many miles you've gone, how much time you've been running/walking, or how many calories you've burned).

Angela complained about sounding like an elephant on the treadmill (she didn't bring "exercise shoes" like I did), then we went up on the roof to go sit in the hot tub to warm our numb bones. Omni's rooftop patio is PIMPIN'!! It had REAL foliage, a lap pool with TEAL water, not bright blue, and looked like it had come straight out of John Travolta's backyard or a Better Homes & Garden article. We could see all of Austin spread before us like an asphalt picnic through the glass retaining wall (to prevent suicides, probably). The hot tub wasn't hot enough, but oh well-we went to the sauna afterwards. High living, high living.

We headed down to the pre-Queens of the Stone Age barbecue (actually it was for some crappy new country artist but was in the same venue as the QOTSA show) put on by BMI at Stubb's BBQ, The barbecue was the best barbecue I've ever had in my life, hands down. I'll never taste its equal, I'm sure-it was shredded tender pork (Angela's conjecture) smothered in the most divine barbecue sauce my tastebuds have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. It had a certain wood-smoked tang mixed with a perfect combo of spices and sweetness that made me go back for seconds. I wanted to keep putting food in my mouth even though my stomach was bursting. Food never makes me want to do that, but this BBQ did. OK, I'll shut up now.

Angela and I watched Throwrag (BYO Records) after this girl spilled her beer on the table where I was sitting and I spent a few minutes blotting beer off my bum-bum. Throwrag was awesome, invigorating, passionate and wild. The guy playing the washboard told a girl in the front row, with his beer belly jutting out, "I see you're looking at me with those bedroom eyes. And you're thinking, 'Get out of my bedroom, you dirty, fat little Irishman!'"

[A view of Throwrag from the BMI party patio at Stubb's BBQ]

BMI kicked everyone off their outside patio before QOTSA began (that wasn't part of the deal, obviously), and we tried to get in through will-call. Even though we're interviewing QOTSA Friday night, the PR guy we're working with forgot to put us on the list. We didn't weep though; didn't weep. Didn't pay, either. We just stood outside and tried to record part of the show from outside the fence with Angela's mini-disc recorder to make a Podcast out of. While we were doing that, this dude scalping tickets named Chase came up and tried to sell us some. When he saw we wouldn't buy, he came back later and started talking to us and telling us about how he's been a scalper since he was 14 (he looked about 30, so maybe 16 years of scalping, I guesstimate) and how he's followed the Grateful Dead around, many other concerts around the country, Superbowls, other big events, you name it, and became a professional scalper. I forgot to ask him if he has followed the Ice Capades around.

[Rebecca Vernon gets DENIED from the Will Call window ... and the Queens are sold out!!!]

He sold his last two tickets for $40 each to some people (originally, $25 each; he was going to sell 'em to us for $15 each), told us the mini-disc recorder gave him the creeps (we recorded his every word), warmed up his motorcycle, and told us he'd check out the SLUG website. We made plans to hang out with Chase again at the Guitar Wolf (Narnack Records) show later this week. Austin locals are ALMOST as cool as Salt Lakers.

[Line to get into Queens of the Stone Age]

Back at the Omni Hotel, I went up to the sauna again despite our bedroom being like, 80 degrees, because it was FREEZING standing outside that QOTSA show, read a little bit of Dubliners, watched a bit of a horrid HBO show called Carnaval and went to bed.

Next day, we freakishly ran into Chase walking up to the convention center ("Ms. Brown," he called out) and he said he HAD checked out the SLUG website after going home on his moto. Now that's some good follow-up. -Rebecca Vernon

Photos by AHB