this must be the place....goin strong , yeah baby!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SXSW 2012 Impressions

Here's an essay I'm working on, I am going to keep working on it......this blog is dead right now, so I'm assuming no one is reading this , and then maybe when its done ill shoot a link to it or something

Man, where to begin. Let's just throw the word insane out there. This year was insane. Justin from I Love You said he felt every emotion a person could feel during this week. I guess I wasn't that in tune with what other people were feeling, I was pretty caught up in making sure whatever the task in front of me was getting addressed in a way that might be suitable. It was like being in the brig, or the hole or something to do that for that long.

I think one thing that is defining what happens at sxsw in a larger sense is that people try and take it to the max. Personally I tried to do that, and as a result I threw an anti-festival / show series, which i dont mind hanging my hat on for a quick minute, and I'll do the math later but I think I saw over 150 sets in a week, so that's pretty fucking retarded when you think about it.

I think it creates all these weird things, like a rip in space-time kinda weird thing, and it raises existential questions. For example, say you have 100 promoters. For the sake of argument, let's say these people are all people trying to max, to make their event the best event or whatever (and the same applies for venues, only add in a pure profit motive.) Well those 100 people are all promoters because somehow it fits into their idea of themselves, and why they are throwing a show fits into ...would you call that an extension of the ego?

So one problem, that I think it has to be addressed politically, is that these 100 people are not all going to be qualified to run the show they plan. We tacitly accept as a free society that people have the right to take it to the max, and also, p.s. rock and roll is the place where you do it, so it seems like at least once a year a dudes gotta stick that measuring stick out there and see where his head is at, if he's still got it, etc. If you are trying to break on thru to the other side it makes sense to test personal boundaries, and to touch them with your hands, and leave some chalk on the wall for next time so you remember. But its not a moral position to gloss over the consequences of chaos on such a large scale. Additionally, it bothers me to feel that the influence of money pushes things past where their natural stretching point should be, and if that gets involved in the rule making politically it will create a dangerous situation. I don't see how over time this will fail to be the case, given the financial impact of the festival on the city as a whole.

That being said sxsw this year ranked among the most memorable experience in my life, and its existence allowed me to live and participate in some things where I really felt I was accomplishing what I wanted to do/be as a person, so that was really fulfilling. I loved seeing the bands and everything that came with it, the parade of styles, gear, cables taped in different ways, rare types of people you know exist, legendary rockers, rock and roll bullshit attitude. Really it was a celebration of culture, and rock and roll to me is the pinnacle of American thought, as dumb as that sounds. Its dumb because rock and roll is supposed to be dumb, as dumb as that sounds. But it is serious, and I think it was neat to watch it become increasingly serious as the festival wore on in the sense that ultimately, this is what people are dedicating their entire existence to the pursuit of, and in most ways its outside the lines of whats good or bad, or acceptance, or whatever, it just boils down to shaking your fist up at the sky sometimes.



During the final stages of the planning of Escapes for me, I became something of a kamakazi pilot. It was going to be spectacular, either as a success or a failure, that was for certain. I am pleased to say that the worst thing that happened was that my car got broken into and 3 guitars got stolen, which hopefully they are all insured, I believe they will be. Oh yeah, how did my car get broken into? After the first night of Escapes I could not park up in my driveway as planned because someone had blocked it. I am not sure who blocked it, it seemed like it might be kinda dick to get them towed, and although I suspect it may have been someone for the UIL basketball tournament, I was unsure if it might be one of the people renting a room in our house, so I just parked the car in the one open spot on the street (by the alley) and decided just to risk it for a few hours. Lo and behold, someone actually did break a window and jack probably what they could carry. The fortunate thing was that Shane's sax, which is worth maybe 3x+ what the total value of the guitars were was left on the same bench untouched, and the amps in the back which were worth thousands of dollars were untouched. I guess they didn't have the means to clear us out.

But basically nothing bad happened as far as us and our shows were concerned. The theft took me out of my game for a little bit, out of rhythm and instead of going to the show that second afternoon i was dealing with insurance agents, the police, and my personal emotions, trying to get back on track, finally getting to the show about 7 PM. I took 2 long showers that afternoon, ha, once in between talking to all those people, and then just one more to get my head straight before going to the show.

One thing about Escapes that I think I am more cognizant of than other people is that it's an iterative process. A lot of things reoccurred in ways that didn't surprise me they were reoccurring. Off the top of my head, Gangi played a sunset set where the energy of the vibe changed in an important way in a way that reminded me of some sunset sets that Spiked Punch had played.

Each Other
Heavy Times
Spray Paint

hon mention...twice other people told me they had just seen their favorite band, Eddy liked TOPS @ 1808, and Tania liked Jack Toft's set at HoC. Also I really liked Henry's set as Popular Culture

BEST SHOWS: It would be easy to say we threw the best show. Actually, I felt like sxsw was a mature entity this year, because i spent my entire time at a place where i felt like the quality of the bands was superb and at a variety of different venues, in a variety of iterations. I did 6 days at Escapes, a morning at the Psychfest show Levitation, thrown by the Black Angels, 2 mornings at Trailer Space, a coop show at House of Commons, a coop show at the 21st Street Coop, a house show at Charlie Alvarado's house, and also, I saw Prince Rama play at an art gallery at 43rd and Guadaloupe. I caught one band play at The Grand one morning for Burger Records, and that seemed like it was going to be a kick ass time, my idea of fun, wish I could have stayed longer. Also, I played a show at Cheer Up Charlie's, which was as close to downtown as I got.

The first was R. Stevie Moore's set, on Sunday 3/11. At about 2 AM he had been playing for 30 min and went outside and sat on a bench at 12th and Chicon. Mercer was holding the crowd and the band on stage, and I got to go out there and sit on a bench and chat it up, convince him to come back in. He played until 2:30. I wouldn't say the sound was the absolute greatest in that room, but you could tell he was taking the show seriously, and that song with the hook "play myself some music" always resonates with me. In case anyone was wondering, all the bands played for free, because that's a part of the ethos of the show. Mercer made a side deal out of his pocket to get those guys $100 for playing his favorite song, which I was unaware of until the show. For those guys to play for $100, I just think that's really cool for such a big band to agree to do that, so good for them and thanks to Mercer for bringing the headliners/making it happen, etc.

Although I'm sure others were feeling special moments happen in accordance with their own bio-rhythms, I didn't feel that that super special vibe or moment again until Wednesday evening when Gangi played. Their set was outside, and they had time to set up all their gear. They did some really cool things with oscillators and noise generators at 2 points in the set, and they sounded great in the open air. You can hate on music from L.A. as sounding slick, but if you want to dig a little deeper and get past that those guys probably played that particular set with more heart than any other band I saw all week, and I think that is one of the fundamental ideals a band can strive to communicate. It was the first sunset set of the night, I feel like there were a few bands that got to play as the show was

There were 2 other sets Wednesday night I would say for me were completely special and also some honorable mentions. It was the last day of the festival, and it was really where we saw if we were going to achieve what we were trying to achieve or not. Dan Friel, Cold Showers, and Cadence Weapon all had nice sets, but for me the night belonged to Each Other and Flow Child.

Bands I saw twice, or more:
Cold Showers (1808 big, 29th st ballroom)
Heavy Times (1808 big, Trailor Space)
Each Other (1808 small room, 1808 out)
Dan Deacon (Cheer Up Charlies, 21st St Coop)
Gangi (1808 about 5 times, all stages)
I Love You (1808 about 5 times and Charlie's house)
Ear Pwr (1808 twice)
Cool Serbia (1808, House of Commons)
Tonstartsbandht (1808 small room, big room)

Coolest bands as people based on interactions with material consequences:
Gangi -- These guys are probably the most underrated band of the festival.

Tonstartsbandht -- 2 brothers, exceptionally cool, Mercer hung out with them like the whole time. Great music in many different forms, and they let us borrow their bass amp in a pinch (Joey's had died) for one afternoon.

Ear Pwr -- I feel like we tried about a hundred times to get this band in front of a crowd where something magical happened. We did it in '09 at the Treasure City Thrift show, which in hindsight, the lineup was fucking unbelievable. On one show we had play Tune-yards, Psychedelic Horseshit, Quiet Hooves, Prince Rama, DD/MM/YYYY, What's Up?, Ear Pwr, Popo, Long Legged Woman, and there was a really good Reverse X Rays set to boot. The listing I had says Real Estate also played, but I think they played at 1808 in the backyard the next day, because I remember talking to them there. Damn, what a show. I hope they felt we held up our end of the bargain this year, they played like 3 sets maybe but I never felt like the crowd did them justice....maybe I just wasn't paying attention. Then they came to play a coop show that got a little log jammed up from starting a little late around the 6 PM marker, and they were totally cool with coming back and playing later.

Each Other -- These guys ended up being my musical highlight, the set they played Wednesday. They were the first band to play Tuesday, and I don't know who booked them. Anyways, we asked them if they wanted to come back Wednesday and actually play for some people, although I think fortuitously maybe there was a label guy in the audience at the time of their Tuesday set, who knows. I say fortuitous because they were billed to play at 8 PM, but played more like 4:30 PM, somehow it just worked out that way. There was a fair amount of human error that seeped past our best efforts in doing this show, I think the people who get it will cut us some slack on that. Anyways, these guys said yeah sure, we'll come back. Then, they came back Wednesday and were like "so whats the deal?" There were like 6 bands in line to play so I told them "next is Tops, then Hyena and Great Valley on the same equipment inside, then outside its gonna be Cadence Weapon, then its gonna be Treasure Mammal inside, then you guys." So basically "sweet, thanks for coming, you guys will play in like 3 hours" which plenty of lesser bands would have bitched about, but actually this dude just says "perfect" and sits down and starts watching the bands and having a good time. And we really did a good job doing this band justice, we set it right up, and it was perfect weather, and they played a great set which Joey got all on video, so we will get that footage out there. A side note, that band also blows my mind because one of the guitar player is a dead ringer for Ryan from The Strange Boys.

Least cool band based on interactions with material consequences:
Total Slacker -- These guys played Escapes on Wednesday and then House of Commons coop on Thursday. At Escapes they were saying they had been given a timeslot for midnight even tho on our schedules we were listing them to close the night out. There was a lot of bullshit involved like "oh man, no were still totally into your show" etc., like, what? When they showed up to the club they started loading their gear on a stage without talking to anyone running the show, which I took to mean they were trying to power play their way into playing when the most people were there. As it was my first time working with this band, and the other promoters working on the show were vouching for them, we ended up accommodating them, to the tune of letting them set their gear up in front of my bands gear and take our slot. They ended up moving it back to the stage once it freed up, meaning we had to run another band inside and Reverse X Rays ended up playing about 4 bands later than we were supposed to, to about 10 people. This instituted bad vibes on an interpersonal level into my situation, due to Total Slacker's actions, but the real coup de grace wasn't until the next night. After being insistent that they start exactly at the time they were listed for at Escapes (which by the way, they weren't listed for, wtf) they show up to a party at a coop where, no shit, its running late and do the same fuckin thing. They tried to bullshit the band Ava Luna into playing a shorter set "out of respect to the bands playing later", and they tried to bullshit The Back Pockets into getting off the stage they were already set up on because "all their fans were here to see them" which is total bullshit, it was a coop party, maybe 5 of the 100 people there had heard of Total Slacker, everyone was just there to party, and The Back Pockets share a lot more culturally with that scenario. I had to do a little back alley regulation, but Ava Luna played something close to their full set, and The Back Pockets played their full set, which was great. The cops came after The Back Pockets which would have really been rewarding to my set of ironic justice, but I was glad for the sake of the show that the band got to play. Oh yeah, also going thru the Escapes archives, I hadn't realized it, but they no-showed the Sneak Attack show, prob figured it wouldn't be worth their time (dd/mm/yyyy showed up to play at noon on Saturday of SXSW, i guess that show was last year, and the weather was cold and extremely windy and there was noone out. I talked to them via phone and said there was noone there, but those guys said they didn't care and set up all their gear etc and played a bitchin set for the 5 of us who were there, it was awesome.)

For posterity, the listing as it appeared on facebook at the time of the last edit:

Yo. EeSsCcAaPpEeSs is upon us, this year it is called NiИXSxSWƧxƧXNiИ.
The dates are 3/9 - 3/14, 2012, showtimes vary by date.

Schedule below:
"A good read." -NYTimes Sunday Book Review

Friday 3/9 @ Club 1808, ESCAPES XI
Starts at 7 PM, bands at 8 PM

7 PM ---- ** Zorch Happy Hour!!** --- **drink specials!!**
8 PM----Bradford Kinney // Breakdancing Ronald Reagan // Johnathan Horne
9 PM----Biill Baird // Field Dress // Multitracker
10 PM---The Foolies (Chris Reed soul band) // Geoff Millions // Boyfrndz
11 PM---Reverse X Rays // Skycrawler // Best Fwends
12 AM---Total Unicorn // Netherfriends // I Love You
1 AM---- Zorch // Bangaar

Saturday 3/10 @ Club 1808, ESCAPES XII "Witchapalooza"
bands at 2 PM

1 PM --- **1808 Happy Hour Showcase** --- **drink specials!!**
2 PM---- Collective Soulasylum // Jess Williamson
3 PM---- Lead Pipe // I Love You
4 PM---- Real Book Fake Book // Black Ocean Parking Lot // Bell Riots
5 PM---- Zoltars // Manatee Tights // Thousand Foot Whale Claw
6 PM---- Sour Notes // Zest of Yore // Silent Land Time Machine
7 PM---- Forever Overhead // Botany // Bali Yaah
8 PM---- Weekends // i-b-n-u-b-o // Knifight
9 PM---- Coma in Algiers // Jack Topht // Butcher Bear
10 PM--- Ladders (1st show) // Popular Culture // Cockerspaniels (full band)
11 PM--- Holy Wave // Weird Weeds // Slugbug
12 PM--- Spiked Punch // Pataphysics
1 AM---- Zorch (set II, "prog set of doom")

Sunday 3/11 @ Club 1808, ESCAPES XIII ft. R. Stevie Moore
bands at 7 PM

7 PM---- Artificial Earth Machine // Ferdinand Rising // Dude Magnets
8 PM---- Bubbleface // Odonis Odonis // Hooded Fang
9 PM---- Roo // I Love You // La Panza
10 PM--- Gangi // Slugbug // Attic Ted
11 PM--- Rayon Beach // Reverse X Rays // Lead Pipe
12 AM--- Tropical Ooze // Overevo // Man's Trash
1 AM---- R. Stevie Moore

Monday 3/12 @ Club 1808, ESCAPES XIV
jam at 2 PM, bands at 5 PM

2 PM - 4 PM **jam** <---this is a special event, including special sub-events
4 PM----Eula // Dolphin Mouth
5 PM----Life Size Maps // Dada Trash Collage
6 PM----Andy Boay // Spectrals
7 PM----Jason Harvey // Part Time
8 PM----Night Beats // I Love You
9 PM----Telethon // Spiked Punch
10 PM---Hume // Reverse X Rays // The Great Valley
11 PM---Tonstartsbandht // Cloudland Canyon
12 PM---Quilt // Partypartypartners jam band
1 AM--- Gangi

Tuesday 3/13 @ Club 1808, ESCAPES XV
bands at 4 pm

4 PM----Cool Serbia // Cats in the Basement // Caged Animals
5 PM----Night Beats // Slugbug // Ancient Ocean
6 PM----Unstoppable Death Machines // Dada Trash Collage // Guerilla Toss
7 PM----tonstartsbandht/eola // Telethon // Habits
8 PM----Mozart's Sister // Each Other // Gangi
9 PM----Pets With Pets // Spiked Punch // Hyena
10 PM---The Great Valley // Deep Time (frmly. Yellow Fever // DMA + Orea Jones
11 PM---Dope Body // Dustin Wong // M Geddes Gengras
12 PM---Ear Pwr // Muchos Gracias // Woodsman
1 AM----Psychedelic Horseshit

Wednesday 3/14 @ Club 1808, ESCAPES XVI
bands at 1 PM

1 PM--- Chris Forsyth // Shock Diamond
2 PM----Deadly Cradle Death
3 PM----Chapter 24 // Spiked Punch
4 PM----Slugbug // The Coathangers // I Love You
5 PM----Hyena // Eets Feets // Wet Hair
6 PM----Heavy Times // Gangi // Dharana
7 PM----Flow Child // The Great Valley // Treasure Mammal
8 PM----Cadence Weapon // Moon King // Hubble
9 PM----Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt! // Ear Pwr // TOPS
10 PM---Matthew David // Reverse X Rays // Dan Friel
11 PM-- Doldrums // Cold Showers // Ava Luna
12 PM---Man's Trash // Cloudland Canyon
1 AM---- D'eon // Total Slacker
2 AM-----?


  1. kyle accurately refers to it as 'south by southtimewarp'.

  2. hey, were you at charlie's house on saturday night? i have googled and searched, which led me to your blog, to find the name of a band that was playing around midnight at that house. it was so good!! unfortunately i was in too much of a daze to think to ask anyone around me, and thought i could probably easily find them later, but this has not been the case. any leads would be much appreciated!!

  3. was it reptar? yeah i was there. whatd they look like?

  4. he was wearing a white t shirt and playing guitar and their last song was kind of a slow song. the next group that went up was a girl reciting poetry

  5. lets stick to the facts. I book and tour manage Total Slacker along w 5 other bands including Ava Luna and others @SXSW. Your comment, " based on interactions with material consequences", is exactly correct. When Total Slacker arrived to Mercers show, they were met with organizers who were stoned out of they're mind, and had no idea who was playing next, and on what stage.
    Ava Luna quit and didn't even bother playing. (ava luna recorded tots slackers debut LP, so whatever bullshit your making up about the timeslots the next day at the co-op, were actually between ava luna and TS, had nothing to do with anybody else. GET REAL!

    Total Slacker have a long relationship with Mercer and Jordan who booked that show @escapes, so they insisted on playing. Mercer was the one that told them to play on the stage and at the time they played, you can ask him that.

    Talk all the shit you want, but know your enemies before you burn bridges!!