It is March once again and time for the South by Southwest music conference in Austin (and college hoops). RFSL has dispatched some of our favorite LA bands to cover the madness that is SXSW. First up John Graney of the Californian brings us his report from the road.
By John Graney
Friends, I write you from the belly of a white Ford Explorer named Honey barreling down I-10 towards the same destination as countless other bands. My name is John Graney, lead singer for the Californian. My cohorts and I are obviously on our way Austin, Texas to experience the five days of noise, beer, plaid shirts, pizza, fuzz pedals, sweat, long lines, beer, late nights, favorite bands, shitty bands, half naked people, completely naked people, beer, tacos, indie anthems, breakbeats, folk ditties, geniuses, morons, and human beings that is South By Southwest.
The sea of indie bands passing us on the road today remind us silently that the roomier Ford Econoline Van is really the standard in band transportation. We like to do things differently here at the Californian. That is to say that Honey is taking very good care of us.
The drive out to SXSW is always a surreal one. What once was a stretch of barren highway speckled with the occasional road stop now more resembles a mobile Williamsburg. Gas stations become one massive staring contest between truckers and dudes in tight jeans.
When you find familiar friends and bands from home wandering through the desert it's always a nice reminder that you are not alone rolling headlong for what seems to be forever.
It is a brutal drive that can take anywhere from 18 to 24 hours. In general I think people start to lose their minds somewhere in the middle of New Mexico. Half of our own band ceased all normal speech patterns somewhere near Las Cruces and spoke in a dialect resembling a chicken with tourettes.
Arriving in Austin, Texas late late last night and seeing the lights of one of my favorite skylines in the world was all it took to regain sanity and remember just what the hell we are doing here. We're here to lose our minds all over again.
We, the Californian represent a particular breed of SXSW band. The underdog. We have no wristbands. We have no credentials. The only show we are playing with the word "official" in the titled is called "the real official unofficial showcase". Get it? This means we are not allowed into so many of the fancy official parties and good times most people will enjoy this weekend. We must settle for the scraps and the "day parties" and the unsigned bands. Of which there are approximately four hundred billion. And we wouldn't have it any other way.
That being true, it's very difficult to get a good list of what bands are playing which unofficial parties and when. There's no real infrastructure set in place for something that's "unofficial". So outside of friends and bands we know from home, we're not sure exactly what we're going to experience. But the good folks at Radio Free Silver Lake have asked me to let you know what happens to us down here - and that is exactly what I intend to do. So stay tuned for more adventures from us.
I do know this. We play The Real Official Unofficial Showcase at 8pm tonight (Wednesday) at Lipstick 24. And that will be a blast. And I know we play the SeaNow day party at Annie's West at 9pm on Friday night!!!
I'm looking forward to seeing Wye Oak in the parking lot of Waterloo Records on Thursday afternoon. I'm gonna catch Apex Manor in the same spot tonight. I'm going to stand in line and yet somehow still fail to see the Strokes. I'm waiting to hear back about when our friends the Ross Sea Party are playing. I want to see what an Andy Clockwise acoustic set looks like. And I'm going to catch the She Wants Revenge set at SeaNow before we head out with them on a west coast tour for the next few weeks.
Other than that, I like to keep my mind clear before SXSW and just let it be whatever it wants to be this year.