Jesus Christ, it's a long drive to Austin. Not that I didn't know this already, or somehow forgot, but ... Jesus Christ, It's a long drive to Austin. After 15 hours of driving, an extended punk-rock playlist, five cans of Red Bull, three bags of gummy worms and a giant package of Corn Nuts, we started things off bright and early in Downtown Austin at 9 a.m.
The downside is, there isn't shit going on at 9 a.m. The upside is, it took all of 10 minutes to get our credentials at the convention center as opposed to the hour or so last year. So, early birds and worms and all that shit. After checking into the house we rented, we were only able to snag a free drink or two here and there, and I didn't actually catch any music till around 8:45 p.m. when I saw The Walkmen at the NPR showcase at Stubb's.
I've never disliked The Walkmen, and have certainly never seen them. I guess I've just always felt like I had to decide between them and The Strokes, and that there wasn't enough room in my life for both. And yeah, I realize that's dumb. When it comes to music, I'm one of the worst kinds of human beings imaginable. I am hypocritical, unreasonably biased, self-righteous, and unfairly judgmental. I can hate something that's great because too many of the annoying people like it. I can love something awful because too many of the same people hate it for the wrong reasons. That said, The Walkmen were badass. They wailed through a few well known tunes, played something off their upcoming album, and did that whole "give the people what they want" and tore through "The Rat" -- a tune that's wound up on a number of my own mix CDs in years past.
From there I stopped in at the Red Eyed Fly to catch The Protomen. I'd never seen them outside Nashville before, and while the spectacle isn't nearly as elaborate and the room not quite as packed, their fanbase and support outside their hometown was well represented here. More than a few folks were pumping fists on cue and singing right along to tracks from their latest record.
Mind you, at this point, I was going into my 30th hour sans sleep. I'd been walking around and drinking almost nonstop since 9 a.m., and my physical limitations were more than starting to catch up with me. Regardless, I trekked five blocks to Buffalo Billiards. I think we have one of those in Nashville, and it's obviously lame. But this ain't Nashville. Andrew WK was scheduled to make his first ever SXSW performance and that sounded like something worth checking out -- in due time, anyway. I was a little early.
Shortly after I walked in, Javelin set up and instantly looked clearly up my alley: two-man band, one armed with a table full of samplers and effects pedals, the other with a MIDI drum pad. Maybe my patience was non-existent by this point, but up my alley Javelin was not. They came reasonably close to striking a clever balance between Grand Buffet and Neon Indian, except maybe if The Bloodhound Gang had supplied their sense of humor. Hence, this irony fueled assault of white-boy bedroom funk couldn't have ended fast enough.
Next up, NYC lo-fi bike punks Japanther won the room over with fuzzed-out burners nailed down over cassette backing tracks. It was good. I liked it. But again, but I was really ready to die at this point.
It was a good 30 or 45 minutes before Andrew WK finally walked onstage. This place was jam-packed and growing ever restless. Following another five minutes of air raid siren samples, and Andrew himself hyping the crowd from offstage, the band started in without him for a good three-minute metal jam accompanied by a scantily clad and rather ripped hype woman. WK finally took the stage and wailed through some choice cuts from his discography. (I can't say which, cause I only know I Get Wet.) Dude couldn't have been more genuinely grateful for the support, regularly slapping fives, shaking hands, and pulling folks onstage for a hug only to send them surfing back into the crowd.
While it was easily the best show of the night and potentially the festival as a whole, I had a 1.8 uphill bike ride ahead of me and felt it was time to get that show on the road. That said, I had an awesome night of sleep, woke up feeling like a million bucks, and am all kinds of ready to feel like total shit tonight. So let me get to that now.