SXSW 2000 Death March

Day Two: Thursday 16 March 2000

Thursdays are usually a good night as SXSW. I remembered that correctly. There's another SXSW tradition which I did not, however. Thursday is (usually) the Day of the Deluge. This time out, since we had the tornados and hail by day, I figured that it had blown over. Nope. Ten O'Clock, just like last year. Blam. Nuthin' like 40 degrees in the driving rain, and then standing mostly outside, for 4 more hours. Brrrrr.

On to the music:

The Crumbs (?) @ Emo's Jr. (2000) Perfectly respectable garage rock/punk. Sort of like non-rockabilly Social Distortion, complete with armloads of tattoos on the lead singer. Word of warning: never stand close as the lead singer apparently spits a lot when he sings. I saw people backing up from him.

The Mooney Suzuki (New York, NY) Emo's Main Room (2000) was somewhere in the uncomfortable zone between Urge Overkill & the Ramones. Iffy concept at best, and sloppy as shit to boot. Eh...

ST 37 (Austin, TX) @ Atomic Cafe (2000) competent but kinda dull (wanna start the night off with more energy) sonic-texture atmospherics from a band of older, (literally) face away from the crowd shoe-gazers. It's always soooo strange to go to Atomic during SXSW. That place is supposed to be filled with the leather and latex crowd, and seeing the music company folks there just seems wrong. I saw maybe 5 Goths in the whole place. Weird.

The Jack Saints (?) @ Red Eyed Fly (2000) Crap. Incompetent garage punk. Only saw their last tune. Given the audience reaction, they have No Future <TM>

I then went to Emos Jr. to wait for One Man Army to get their shit together on stage, and split before they had found their asses. Next time, try both hands. And so went around the corner to ...

Apulanta (Lahti, FINLAND) @ Park Ave (2100) Angry young Fins. Not terribly remarkable, other than having kinda muddy sound. I had done well with the international acts last night, but this one was iffy. Gave 'em two songs and then blew for ...

Comes With The Fall (Atlanta, GA) Iron Cactus (2100) Competent, but not terribly interesting patchoulie-scented heavy rock-grunge. Honestly, the incense drove me outta there faster than the music.

Pale (Houston, TX) @ Copper Tank Main (2100) Pretty cool wall of sound w/morphine moments. Fairly catchy stuff.

Stretford (Austin, TX) Copper Tank North (2100) Damn cool. Some sort of cross-pollination of Hunters & Collectors, the explosive horn sound of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, with some Green Day and even Hendrix guitar thrown in. Weird as shit but damn good and had the place hopping.

And at 10 til 10, the sky opened and I ran from awning to awning to get back to the car and grab the umbrella. I've been in the stand in line for 30 minutes getting wet scene before. I've been in Emo's and almost drowned before. I get back to music land at about 10 after to try to see ...

Tesch (Los Angeles, CA) Buffalo Club Patio (2200) Damn. Cancelled because of the rain. Since the amps were sitting in puddles, this was probably a smart idea.

Quick, run to ...

Captain Audio (Dallas, TX) Ritz Lounge (2200) Twangy shoegazers. Odd idea. Occasional bursts of energy which created extended, fairly talented jams. Not bad.

But not compelling, either. So ...

Astrid (Glasgow, UK) Park Ave (2200) Jangly guitar pop from some seriously young industry darlings. Nuthin' special, but didn't suck.

So slog around the corner, through the rain, to see ...

Plexiq (Hamburg, Germany) Spiro's (2200) Up beat, trip-happy dots & loops dance dub w/bass, drum machine, synth & guiet megaphone vocals. Danceable. Pretty OK, actually, if occasionally sounding Depeche Mode-derived. Also, being in "Austin's Only High Class Nightclub" with muddy boots, dripping water onto the dance floor had some esthetic appeal.

But not enough to linger long...

Green Pajamas (?) @ Atomic Cafe (2200) Some sort of folksy-countrified VH1 crap. What the F- is this doing at Atomic?????? Get this shit outta my club!

Waited a while, and then gave up on the Alchemysts who wanked around and just couldn't get their gear in order. So then decided to give the international folks another chance with ...

Miss Universe (Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS) Park Ave (2300) which was a mistake. They were arguably one of the least attractive bands I have seen, and seemed some sort of limp, dull REMesque idunno what. Outta there!

November Foxtrot Whiskey (Tampa, FL) Buffalo Club Patio (2300) Glad the rain stopped long enough for their set. Some sort of feedback-fuzz alt-country jams & ballads, half of which belong in a David Lynch film. The rest verges from Spanish folk songs to wacked-out Irish folk instrumentals which come off with a real groove. Really, really cool. Best of the night. I know. I know. "Alt country? John? Whaaat?!?!" OK, maybe I did bonk my head harder than I thought. But they were very damn good musicians.

Goudie (Austin, TX) @ Maggie Mae's East (0000) Absolutely fucking packed. And I can see why. The band really had quality sound and presence. Very full-on vaguelly like Smashing Pumpkins, but with less whiny vocals. Well worth seeing, but since they're local ...

Jackpot (Sacramento, CA) Maggie Mae's West (0000) who sound like a nice, tight, countryfied early REM. Not bad at all. Worth a couple of songs, then over to ...

Radar Bros (Los Angeles, CA) @ Copper Tank North (0000) Slow lyrics-rich rock. Not quite the sound of the clip on the SXSW site, which sounded Brian Eno-ish.

The Confusions (Sundsvall, SWEDEN) @ Coppertank Main (0000) Competent, though not too inspired Cardigans-esque retro pop.

And since i knew the last one as gonna be packed to the gills, I headed over to Emo's to get in line. I got inside and wormed my way up out of the 4" deep lake, and onto the raised floor and _thankfully_ under the roof, when the sky opened again. But the faithful drowned rats stayed and waited and waited for ...

Man...or Astroman? (Atlanta, GA) Emo's Main Room (0100) Exactly what the fuck was that? Devo? Thrash punk? Jangly fuzzy surf guitar? Yes. It was all of them. And no, that doesn't look like an anatomical model of a brain sitting in a bubbling fish tank. No. Not at all. I'm sure it is the overmind controlling all these guys. Uh-huh. And setting up the stage dressed in hooded and face-plated Tyvek suits was uh, cool. I guess. Wacky, weird shit. But it was a helluva lot of fun.

Thursday's Score:
41 Interesting-sounding bands (not all listed here)
19 Actually seen/heard for more than 60 seconds
2 Outstanding, _really want to see 'em again, get the CD, etc., shows
7 Pretty decent ones
8 Wankers
2 Who fucked around with their equipment, until I gave up on them
1 Who was cancelled because of the weather.

Not nearly as good as last night. When I see 19 bands in 6 hours, it implies that most were not worth much of my time. Yup. The only ones who rated more than 2 songs last night were Stretford, November Foxtrot Whiskey, and Man..Or Astroman, but The rest, even the "decent" ones were pretty disposable.

And I missed The Blue Noise Band, Electric Airplanes, and Eric Mingus. Hrrrm. Couldda done better.

The rest of the fest: