Music,  Travel

SXSW 2007: Day 3 – Free shoes for musicians & the power pop marathon


(Groovy giant lighted sign inside at the Jane party.)

Friday was sunny and pleasantly chilly, and we decided to spend the afternoon hitting the party circuit. As a long-time subscriber, I managed to get on the guest list for the invite-only Jane magazine party, our first stop.

Yes, I know that Jane is for 20-somethings and I realize that I am not a 20-something. I like to think that reading Jane keeps me hip. Hahahaha. C’mon, just let me think it.

The Jane party was completely off the beaten path and not near any of the other festivities. After driving around looking for parking, then searching purses, pockets and every inch of the car for change for the meter, we found a spot and walked through a small park (with a musician playing to a crowd of 3…reminded me of the Menses Fair scene in “Hedwig”) to get to our destination. When we arrived, the party had just started and the music was running behind. Never mind, as it was a very sweet setup: great old brick building, big tent outside for the music, AND, most important, OPEN bar. Yesssss.

(Earl Greyhound. Easy for this dude to swing his hair around. HIS girlfriend got free shoes.)

While tossing back my vodka/cranberry, I noticed a room accessible from the tent in an adjacent warehouse building. The exterior of the building and the room inside had been painted in a graffiti-like motif and advertised the brand Dollhouse. Further investigation definitely required.

So, I’ve never in my life scored serious swag. I blew an opportunity last year when I didn’t make the Ben Sherman party despite my friend Phil getting me on the guest list. Free shoes and clothes AND Rhett Miller hanging out there all day. Can’t even think about it, let alone talk about it. As I walked around the Dollhouse room admiring the skinny jeans, military jackets and metallic shoes, I didn’t in a million years think they were free.

It was only after Earl Greyhound started their set that I noticed a few hipster girls carrying Dollhouse totes with shoe boxes in them. By the time I realized what was going on, the door to the room had been closed and was under guard. After about the 4th swag filled Dollhouse bag hit my peripheral vision, I thought I was going to have an aneurism. I tried in vain a few times to get back in the room, but was told that the free stuff was only for musicians but that they might open it up at the end of the party. Completely sullen, I tried to (and did) enjoy Earl Greyhound’s raucous rock show, nabbed another free drink, then took solace in food.

(The Comas. Like Commas, not comas. But Comas. Get it?)

We were starving and totally hit the jackpot when we went inside and wandered upstairs. We spotted not only the cool Jane cake sign and piles of free Jane mags (so what, already had that issue…subscriber, as previously mentioned…what else ya got? Yeah, I know. Free shoes for musicians.), but a huge table full of gorgeous muffalettas and grilled veggie sandwiches, mounds of fresh raw veg expertly displayed in wooden crates, and a dessert table with mini brownies and York Peppermint Patties. (I stuffed several peppermint patties in my purse. Making up for the lack of shoes.) Hardly anyone was in the room, so we had first crack at the chow and didn’t have do the too-cool-to-do-more-than-just-nibble thing.

We went back outside to watch The Comas’ set. They were good if a bit indistinguishable. I just found out that they will be touring this spring with the Broken West, so I’d give them another try. Perhaps I would have been more focused if I weren’t obsessed with losing out on free shoes. I was IN the room. Then they wouldn’t let me BACK in the room. The HELL with Dollhouse. I’m never buying their damn shoes.

(Elvis Perkins, Most Talented Hipster of SXSW 2007.)

Despite the stellar afternoon lineup (which included Sloan and Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s), we needed to bail to make it to the No Depression party. Roy and I both wanted to catch Elvis Perkins, son of Marlon. (Just kidding. He’s the son of “Psycho”. Anthony Perkins.)

As with Lily Allen, I didn’t really WANT to like Elvis, because he has the famous father thing going for him, he’s an extreme hipster, bla bla bla. Again, the artist set me straight. Elvis was great, smart, and didn’t seem to take himself too seriously. (A fate that has befallen many a hipster.) Although I may be a skeptic, I’m grateful that my curiousity still gets me to shows for which I have skepticism. I’m frequently wrong in my preconceptions, and am perfectly happy to realize the error of my ways.

By the way, in the event that any hipsters are reading my blog, I am not anti-hipster. My shallow side finds many a hipster quite attractive. I am, however, anti-emaciated hipster. (And anti-emaciated anybody, for that matter.) I spent a fair amount of time during SXSW pondering just how the emaciated hipster boys get their size 12 feet through those stovepipe jeans. They don’t all zip at the ankle. Very puzzling indeed.

(Since I didn’t get a pic of the very cute Tift Merritt, please enjoy another picture of the also very cute Elvis Perkins and his band. Look like they’re having fun, don’t they?)

Roy needed to blog, so we decided to head back to South Congress and the ever cool and dependable wi-fi comfort of Jo’s Coffee. We walked to Congress thinking we’d easily catch a bus or a ‘Dillo. The bus plan wasn’t well thought out as we had no change whatsover. As it turned out, the ‘Dillo wasn’t quite that easy either. We managed to catch one of each which advanced us a block or two at a time. We ended up hoofing it most of the way there. Not a big deal on a normal day, but during the marathon of SXSW, the feet are the first to go, so steps must be economized.

While Roy worked, I poked around Jo’s and the San Jose in search of my friend Mona. I found her in a secret employees only zone nearby. We relaxed for awhile and admired her beautiful new nephew who I did not pick up because it would inevitably have made him cry. (I thought I’d spare him exposure to my uncanny ability to freak out babies.) Tift Merritt cruised through the area to get ready for her set which I’d fully intended to watch. However, the distraction of a booth selling vintage clothing and accessories in the parking lot (2 killer handbags, $8 each) threw me off schedule. We wound up listening to Tift, viewless, from a streetside table at Jo’s while having dinner. She sounded great though! Tift’s a longtime favorite. She’s so amazingly talented and genuine.

(St. Vincent. Not her real name. Not a saint. I think it’s kind of like Cat Power….the “one person can have a band name” trend.)

We managed to find quite possibly the kindest taxi driver on the planet who took us to our next stop, Antone’s, to see Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s. Before Margot, we caught St. Vincent’s set. Enjoyed her, but any further descriptives evade me. SXSW jades a person.

So. Margot. What to say about Margot?

(The awe-inspiring Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s. There are about 5 more people in this band. It’s impossible to get them all in one frame.)

Confession: I went to this show thinking “do I really need to see Margot again when I just saw them literally 5 days ago in St. Louis”? Granted, the St. Louis show was unbelieveable, but still. Suffice it to say that I do not regret going to Antone’s. This was the 4th or 5th time I’d seen Margot, and it was definitely the best set I’ve seen. They were jaw-droppingly ON.

Richard Edwards (Margot’s lead singer and songwriter) is one of the most intense performers I’ve witnessed in a very long time. Don’t be fooled by the snappy band name and the sometimes poppy music. This is an emotionally deep and serious dude, and really watching him perform made the breath catch in the back of my throat and left me virtually speechless (which is not easy to do). SEE THIS BAND. I will scream their praises until I truly lose my voice!

(Margot’s Richard Edwards, V.I.D. Very Intense Dude.)

I walked out of Antone’s as stunned as if I’d just seen Jesus. I would’ve considered the day successful at this point and been ready to call it a night, but it was SXSW and it wasn’t even 10:00 p.m., so we headed to The Dirty Dog for their power pop fest featuring Robyn Hitchcock & Peter Buck, You am I, Sloan and Apples in Stereo.

The DDog was at capacity. Our friends texted that they had secured a spot inside. Still high on Margot, we were happy to hang outside and enjoy the cool evening while watching Robyn & Peter on the big screen TV in the front room of the club. We managed to get inside near the end of the set, and were pleased to discover that the bar had restocked its supply of Red Bull, an essential element to the SXSW experience, as previously mentioned.

(Who ARE you, You Am I?)

After the set ended, we made our way to our friends’ TABLE with CHAIRS….a veritable oasis at the end of the day. They graciously offered up a chair which I practically dove onto, immediately removing my shoes, blissful with my good fortune.

We’d not heard of the next band, You Am I, from Australia. They have apparently been around for awhile and power pop junkie that I am, I can’t believe I was completely oblivious to them. The lead singer is small but mighty, a crazy ball of energy. You Am I flailed their way through an energetic set. I’m sold, and their cds are now on my “must acquire and would actually pay cash money for” list.

(Sloan proves that all SXSW buzz bands aren’t made up of 25 year olds.)

I rubbed my destroyed feet while reveling in the luxury of the chair and friends delivering a steady stream of beverages. Then Sloan. Somewhere in the midst of this set I gave it up to the power of the power pop and henceforth can’t really recall any details other than unrestrained rocking out and intermittently standing up on my chair. This was somewhat ill advised as the chair was a very tall bar stool. But I was feeling invincible, and Sloan fueled my Red Bull-induced fire.

(Apples in Stereo, before the Big Birthday Scam of 2007.)

Apples in Stereo capped off the evening with their 1:00 set. I LOVE the Apples’ new record. The few songs I’d heard at home on KDHX led me to beg Roy to get us into their St. Louis show a month or so ago. They didn’t disappoint in StL or in Austin. It’s exciting, and rare, to see a bunch of unhip (sorry) guys my age rock out. But now that I think of it, You Am I and Sloan also fall into this category. I guess you have to be 40 to play power pop.

(We only have birthdays once a year on our planet.)

Accolades aside, I must “out” Apples on the party trick they used at both the St. Louis and Austin shows. (To what end, I’ve yet to figure out.) Near the end of the set, the lead singer announced that it was his wife’s birthday, “coaxed” her and the “friends there to celebrate with her” onstage, and proceeded to incite everyone to sing and clap. It was a bit silly (and unnecessary) the first time, but seeing the SECOND “birthday” put a bad taste in my mouth. Good bands, and that means you, Apples, don’t need no goofy gimmicks. Besides, women don’t like having birthdays once a year, let alone twice in one month.


2 Responses to “SXSW 2007: Day 3 – Free shoes for musicians & the power pop marathon”
Ric Says:
April 23rd, 2007 at 7:12 pm
As Richard’s Dad, I appreciate the comments about Margot. I’m hoping the rest of the world gets a chance to appreciate them soon. The new cd is shaping up nicely.

dana Says:
May 7th, 2007 at 12:33 pm
If the world is just, Richard (and Margot) are going to be huge. Looking forward to the new record and to hopefully seeing them again soon. In the mean time, I will continue to sing their praises every chance I get. Thanks for your comment.