One week into the trip to Austin - and two days from the end of a vacation that I'd been anticipating for months - I finally feel the pangs of homesickness. My body hurts. My mind kind of hurts as well. My friend Des posted on Facebook that Austin was kicking her ass, and she is not alone. It's eleven in the morning, and I'm typing this from a dark room that's got a couple of my zonked-out friends in it. Morgan is snoring like someone who has a very bad cold, and I feel bad for her.
But I, personally, have no reason to complain- even if I barely have a voice left with which to speak or sing. We're tired because we've been active. Everything since getting to Austin is pretty hazy in my recollections, honestly- it's been such a whirlwind of new faces, text messages, stinky stinky socks, and free beer. Trying to recall everything before the battery power on my laptop dies is a chore. I'd call it a success though. Here is what I did:
I've spent most of my daytime hours at Domy Books, which is the venue where the KXLU/Smell showcases have been taking place. In other words, I drove all the way to Austin so that I could schmooze with LA people that I see all the time anyway! But I had no reason to leave- the Domy people made me feel very welcome, and I enjoyed being comfortable. They served veggie sandwiches, with onions and peppers and goat cheese. Winners! Press and Test Everything set up a tent in the parking lot and invited anyone to illustrate pages for collaborative zines based on twenty random and odd topics (things like "bad haircuts," "owl pellets," and "get off my turf!").
Domy itself is a bookstore that sells zines and fancy art books. It's similar in tone to Family in Los Angeles. They sell a very wonderful item at the front desk called "The Secret Lives of Cocks," which is a collection of gorgeous collages made by Joshua Saunders. If you click the link, you can look at the different secret lives. I have been making this recommendation to everyone.
There were many musical highlights at Domy, but the best was Hawnay Troof. This was my second time to see him play, and it was my second time to be overwhelmed with joy as I did so. The guy has a very rare charisma and can somehow do the whole mega-persona thing while somehow coming across also as genuine and "down-to-earth." He is his own party band and his show was like a one man rave that got an adorable bulldog named Stella so excited that she started humping him like crazy. The dog was removed to safety after the first song, but she provided me with the best mental image that I have from the entire Austin experience- Vice Cooler, bent over on the stage, getting pounded from behind by a white bulldog while beckoning to "Pitchfork photographers."
At night times, I had various adventures. Elaine Layabout arranged a house party on Wednesday night at a place called House of Guys by the UT campus, a total bro party house run by a sweet dude in a paisley shirt named Jon. It was a great venue for trashed-out LA gutter-pomp from Big Whup, Manhattan Murder Mystery and Moses Campbell. We met an Austin band called Bubbles, an exceptional party band who made catchy punk. Thursday was completely unplanned for me, and I ended up drifting around and party-hopping all around Austin. I don't really remember the places I went- I saw Ty Segall, and I hung around outside a show with a bunch of friends from the Smell and Pehrspace before taking to the city in the van and driving around with Morgan looking for some friends from Alabama that we never, alas, found. But it was good friendship-bonding time, despite the tragedy of going to bed sometime around five.
Last night was pretty incredible. Drew had the idea to do a clandestine show under the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge--something that was completely illegal for which she did absolutely no real planning. It was kind of a stressful mess for a while- millions of bands ended up being added to the non-existent "bill," and at around nine o'clock I found myself running back and forth along the banks of the river trying to collect hipsters who were totally lost, confused, and a little angry while the waited for the party's "organizers" to show up with a "generator" that apparently didn't actually exist. Some asshole lit a fire, which attracted the cops. Anyway, the whole thing smelled like disaster until a friend showed up and told us that there were outlets on the bridge itself. We lugged our gear onto the bridge, lumbering over ourselves and going as fast as we could to secure a spot as another group of renegades discovered the same outlets and started loading their equipment.
Before playing our first note, we were confronted by police who informed us that we had no permit and were breaking the law. Lying, we said that we did have a permit and that it was getting faxed to us- and the cop said we had an hour before we'd have to "move along" if we couldn't produce it. We took that to mean that the guy was being friendly and was going to let us do what we wanted for an hour. I took it to mean that he wasn't going to take our equipment from us even when he did come back to put a stop to the party.
He did come back to stop us, but it took him more than an hour to do it. In the meantime, Big Whup dropped a quick and messy set of way-too-fast songs, and I had the best performance experience of my trip- all slop and adrenaline! A lot of other bands played after us, and eventually the bridge scene blossomed into a large crowd assembled with hands filled with Colt 45s and eyes darting around to see Bill Murray, who was on the bridge and getting approached from all sides. I'm not a fan of gawking at celebrities, but I love Ghost Busters too much to not have been excited when I saw him.
This morning it's cold and wet. Beautiful weather, but the kind that's making me want to stay inside at the moment. Whatever happens to me today, I hope that it's going to be relaxed.