Before I begin, here’s a quick anecdote about bull fighting. If you ever go to a bull fight, you should know in advance that they kill the bull. They drug it and then slowly kill it dead in the center of the ring. So if you choose to go to a bull fight, I suggest you come to terms with and accept this grisly truth in advance. If you can’t do that, then don’t bother going.
If you plan on going to SXSW, you need to accept that you will be dragging your equipment and wares through crowded streets of sweaty people, that you will have your first drink around 11am everyday (at least if you consider yourself only a moderate drinker), that every corporation or trust fund BKLYN hipster either A) wants you at to attend their party/concert/orgy to enjoy their product, or B) does not want you at their party/concert/orgy because the guest list is full and you are not a taste-maker and Kendrick Lamar is going on late anyway and by the way, have you tried Honest Tea or POP CHIPS, they’re sensational they’re changing America as we speak, we’ll give you two if you download the app and like us on Pinterest.
That’s the deal. So own it. And accept it.
And expect to see EVERYBODY you know. Like a mad dream. Oh, there’s your old bass player. And there’s Thurston Moore. And there’s that chick you hooked up with behind a diner last July. And there’s the head of the label. And there’s your friends from high school. Wait, there’s a dude in a Panda Bear costume riding a pedi-cab with Brian Austin Green in it. They’re all here. And everyone is dressed like 1990-1992.
We played 2 or 3 shows a day down here. 10 shows in 4 days altogether. I already felt the band getting tighter after Day One. And anything can happen at anytime that’s the general feeling.
First show, day 2. Huge stage, sponsored by Pandora and maybe The Voice. I’m not sure. But what I am sure of is that there was NOBODY out to see us in the highly art-directed vacant parking lot next to Antone’s when we walked up on stage, yet its SXSW so you just go with it. And boom! 16 bars into the first song, all these people pour in. And one of those people was Mike Dirnt, bass player for Green Day, who we met in an antique shop last year. And he’s super psyched to see us, playing air guitar to our songs, hanging out afterword like the nicest guy in the universe, and telling us tales of life of a crazy year as an international Rockstar. And the next thing you know, we’re his guests at their show at Austin City Limits. Which, for even the most cynical of concert goers, was an all-together inspiring connection to witness between gargantuan post-rehab multi-platnium rockers and an arena-sized audience.
Chicago Mixtape’s party also falls on that side of the highway. Psalm One, Snowmine, White Mystery, and Pearl & the Beard all played. And I think we played a great set, but every set feels good when you’re playing outdoors in the sunshine. I think our manager might’ve made a deal with some people about something too but everyone got to talking so fast I just quit listening. A photographer took our picture in an alley. She was like an alley Satorialist dressed like a Bboy circa ’94. And there was another interview by a dumpster. There was also some journalist girl in our van who was really friendly but she talking very loud and I’m not sure I understood anything she was saying.
That was an unfortunate theme as well. Talking loud and saying nothing. You’d have expected with everyone else out in droves, the ACLU or some more pro-human anti-establishment groups to be in the general conversation. But I guess they couldn’t afford a megaphone the size of Marlboro’s Smokers Lounge or Samsung’s Galaxy of the Future. A lot of loud jabbering about products and the next big thing.
I don’t believe that talk is cheap, but I do find most of it surprisingly bereft of information.
I am however positive that there was some more cool shit music and art wise, but once we were done I personally just played guitar in my hotel room for the last night. Cuz lets face it, I like my guitar more than most of the people I’m liable to meet “networking” and besides 4 days is long time to spend in a bull fight.
– Billy Bungeroth
Billy Bungeroth plays guitar in JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound and directs for the Second City in Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter or learn more than you should about his continuing adventures at Less Than 40 and the Second City Network.