If I may let out one little white boy gripe before getting this thing started, let me just say, navigating this monstrosity without the benefit of a smart phone (or a phone in general), sucks all kinds of balls. I’ve had to rely on a crinkly wad of paper with my schedule scribbled on it to make it to all my events, and forget about all those helpful tweet tips that get you all kinds of extra places. Nope. It’s SXSW caveman style for me.
Yesterday was mostly about damage control. I lost the key to my bike, but wriggling it out of its chain lock was surprisingly easy. So, I’m back to careening the streets of Austin, taking my chances that it doesn’t suffer the same fate as my iPhone.
After snagging a few free meals, beers and ridiculous amounts of swag including guitar strings, a guitar strap, and a capo courtesy of D’addario, I even caught PUJOL doing a daytime set at Peckerhead’s.
Fast-forwarding past the schmoozing, mooching, and general frustration at my lack of tech toys, I wound up at the Fat Wreck Chords showcase, where most bands sound exactly like what you’d expect from anyone performing at the Fat Wreck Chords showcase. High-speed drum beats, the obligatory random ska breakdown here and there, and an occasional political rant there and here.
The main attraction in this piece were veteran pop-punksters Screeching Weasel. Celebrating their newly released First World Manifesto, the band has now boiled down to its two central members — Ben Weasel and Danny Vapid, with hired guns filling the space where Jughead and Dan Panic usually sat. If you’ve read any sort of interview, his Twitter, or his column in MMR, you know Ben Weasel is never at a loss for words, and man, did he have plenty to say at this show and SXSW in general. (Hint: he’s not a fan.) His attacks spread to the photographers offstage and even the critics and bloggers he assumed (correctly) were in the crowd.
When he wasn’t griping, the band ripped through randomly selected classics from their now 25-year-old catalog, including cuts from My Brain Hurts, Anthem for a New Tomorrow and 1995’s Bark Like a Dog, with a few cuts from the new one thrown in. While the rest of the band went backstage to prepare for an encore, Weasel wasn’t about to relinquish the mic just yet. We got a more scattered rant bitching again about the door prices, the futility of SXSW (“most depressing show of my life in the most joyless, soulless, shameful excuse of a music event in modern history"), and even a failed Q&A.
Once the encore started, Weasel found a whole new soap box to climb on when a fan nailed him in the face with a full cup of beer. Letting off the unknown assailant with a warning, the band played one more song before he was again pegged square in the kisser with an ice cube, which apparently was the last straw. Threats, promises, and finger pointing ensued until an all-out Axl Rose-style confrontation came to a head, which resulted in Weasel throwing a swing at an audience member, bouncers swarming the stage and the frontman being wrestled offstage as the crowd alternately booed and went ape shit.