Friends, I am going to give this entry a title: "The Hang."
If my last post was a prime example of the typical daily experience of a musician at SXSW, then this entry will give you a glimpse into another side of this funny little house of mirrors.
I've only ever been to SXSW as a musician, so those are the experiences I'll describe. I don't know if this is true for normal patrons out here, but probably my favorite part of SXSW is running into various musicians who you know from all over the place. A band you played with in Atlanta one time, a band you met when they were touring through your town, and of course good friends from your own hometown local scene. This was just one of those days.
We saw a few shows. We watched the band Colts from above. They are super awesome, and have well maintained scalps. We then crossed the river to South Austin to catch an acoustic set by Apex Manor ...and the hanging began. Those guys are awesome. A small intimate setting works incredibly for their music.
A few of us attempted to roll back to town and see what we could see. The closest we came to catching a show for the rest of the day was arriving at Beauty Bar for the last chord of Michael Cera’s band.
The rest of the evening and night was all a collection of friends from around the country and back home. We ended the night at a house a mile east of downtown with a porch jam that lasted over 4 hours. It included an impromptu stripped down set from the Californian, the Mid Cities, the Breakups, the Henry Clay People, the Madrigals, I Make This Sound (back from the dead for one song) many locals whose names I missed (It was late. There was beer). Then all of those people grouped together to belt covers to the Austin night sky for what seemed like forever. We sang “Rocky Raccoon,” “Honky Tonk Woman,” “Sittin' On The Dock Of A Bay,” “Hang On Sloopy,” “Two Headed Boy” ...and many, many, many more.
At one point, our trusty bass player, Jake Gideon, asked, “Why don’t we do this back home in LA?”
There’s no easy way answer to that - but it does highlight why I thought it was important to write this entry about this particular aspect of SXSW. This is something that, as a patron, you might not experience. But it’s one of the most important things for us, the musicians.
No one hangs out and jams backstage at festivals. Bar and club gigs last about four seconds and then they are over. In Los Angeles, neighbors and/or cops would have shut us down after one song on my back porch. This is where we get to do this. Make a hybrid band of all your friends and scream at the moon until 2 in the morning.