Monday, April 7, 2008

"Rock and Roll Spring Break, or My First Time at SXSW (Day 2)

So Day 2 started out a bit of a clusterfuck. I only had until 3 pm to catch anyone at day parties because we had passes to the invite-only New West Records party, and it seemed either the schedules were posted wrong or bands weren't being timely. Three bands I'd wanted to see via their mp3s, Born in the Flood, Driving By Night, and Delorentos, I wound up missing because of stuff like that. No wait, I take that back…I did catch a little of BITF’s soundcheck.

However....the day party where BITF was playing wasn't a total wash. Remember that cool Gram Parsons tshirt the guy from The Playing Favorites was wearing? It so happened that Worn Free, the folks who make those shirts, were sort of sponsoring the day party where BITF was playing. I didn't notice anything until I saw two women whose bags had the Worn Free logo on it. So I inquired and they directed me to this little remote, behind a fence corner where Steve, the cat that I believe may own Worn Free, was hanging out. With a big ass blown-up poster of that Gram Parsons shirt I was coveting. So I raved about the shirt and how I'd just heard about the company last night via TPF bassist. He said great, the company is really advertised by word of mouth. AND he was giving out free t-shirts. He didn't have my coveted one but I did walk away with this.

I was so thrilled, tears literally came to my eyes. The kindness of strangers....I mean, it had been great to see bands on Day 1 but….nothing had really jumped out at me and made my heart jump, you know? And then these scheduling mishaps. I thought yeesh man, is this what is so great about SXSW, is this what I paid 98787687686 dollars for? When a friend from NY called to see how things were going, I actually said, “Yeah, it’s ok, but I don’t think I’ll need to come again.” Yee of little faith….(heh)

Oh, and about the shirt, I found out later that these suckers aren’t cheap, they go for like $40+ a pop! And yes, I do plan to order this one, $40 or not.

So back to the music....

New West Record Party
By this point it was closing in on 3 pm, so I high-tailed it up to Club Deville for my first private SXSW party, the New West party, primarily for the Old 97s set, (I know, big surprise right? My friends all know my naughty fantasies about this guy.) Small venue, free beer, not crowded....It was great, kind of like your friend set up a tent in the backyard on a really nice day, made up tshirts for the event, and hired some of your favorite bands to play.

1.Old 97s
The 97s sounded great, had lots of energy, and they looked really happy to be there. Lots of stuff from the new record, Blame It On Gravity, due out May 13th. For me, the jury’s still out on whether I’ll like it yet or not. I know I’m not crazy about the first single (“Dance With Me”) but we’ll see, some of the other new tracks were decent and seemed to sound a bit like my favorite record of theirs, Wreck Your Life, which is a plus. I was so close to the stage, I was able to capture some really great shots (and with a camera phone no less!)

A funny one of Rhett Miller (I think it was during mid-hip swiggle)

Rhett and Murray Hammond

Ken Bethea

Another good one of Rhett

The new one
Dance With Me-Old 97s(MP3)
One I like
Valium Waltz-Old 97s(MP3)

2.The Drams
Haven’t heard of The Drams? Their sound is a little like Slobberbone, another ass-kickin band, because that’s the previous band of three of the Drams. John and I discussed who we thought would close the NW party-I thought maybe the Old 97s because they were the “bigger” band, John claimed it would be The Drams because “they would bring the rawk.” He was right. And bring it they did. Great god in the morning did they. Both the drummer and the lead guitarist receive extra points for being able to tear up the guitar and drums during 3 minute songs with lit cigarettes in their mouths the entire time. And it didn’t hurt that the bassist/vocalist Keith Killoren could have been the bastard son of Gram Parsons, looks-wise….

Make a Book-The Drams(MP3)
Unhinged (Live)-The Drams(MP3)

So remember when I said I was thinking SXSW kind of stunk and hadn't been too impressed that morning? This party changed that for me. The 1-2 punch of seeing the Old 97s and then the Drams in such a cool place made me realize the beauty of SXSW that I may have missed otherwise.

Oh! And I had a long talk with Ken Bethea after the Drams set. He said they’re super happy with the new record and feel it’s their best one in 10 years. One title they were working with was “The Fool,” a track on the record, but I guess it got vetoed because it would smack too much of the titles of Rhett’s solo records ( The Instigator and The Believer). While talking to him, he introduced me to Robert Jenkins, one of Rhett’s best friends and the “Robert” from the line in Big Brown Eyes that goes “Cause if Robert’s dad is right”…nice guy. When I explained to Ken that I wrote a blog and had written one named after the song, Designs On You, he proceeded to tell me the story behind that song (the lyrics are all true), and I also learned that the song Melt Show was based on a show with the band Melt, who were a band that included a majority of the people now in Centromatic. Overall, a really down to earth guy.

2nd half of Day 2 to follow...

Day 1
Part 1
Part 2

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