Thursday, March 25, 2010

SXSW Day 3

Saturday we woke up and it was cold. Not OMG it’s snowing cold, but colder temperatures mixed with 25-35 mph winds. The early morning rain had brought in a pesky cold front. We made our way downtown a little before lunch time and had Cain & Abel’s again. Then we ended up at the Austin Convention Center to see Flatstock, a flea-market style exhibition where concert poster artists get together and sell their work.

Each year, the American Poster Institute throws together two exhibitions. Austin’s SXSW event gets the spring event and Seattle’s Bumbershoot gets the fall. With there only being two main events each year, it’s definitely an honor for Austin to host.

My brother has always raved about how great the artwork is at this event, so I was excited to join him this year in a quest to find another beautifully rare concert poster—preferably from a performance we’d been to! We said hi to his friend Clint, who had just sold a piece to Val Kilmer not 15 minutes before we showed up (Yes, SXSW brings in tons of movie stars, not just people from the music industry! Good ol’ Texas boy Matthew McConaughey was seen around town quite a bit too. Hell, Brad even saw Joey Fatone Thursday night just walking around 6th street.)

Clint with Val Kilmer Clint with Val Kilmer
Brad was able to find a pretty sweet non-concert poster at the Daniel Danger booth, which was over-flowing with eager customers.

daniel danger booth 
He got one of the famous Driskoll Hotel in Austin at nighttime with a body floating lifelessly over it in the sky. Pretty creepy, but definitely awesome work.

Afterwards we walked south half a dozen blocks to the American Apparel tent sale where items were advertised as “85% OFF!” I don’t exactly pull off the American Apparel look too well, but we wanted to see what was there anyway.

american apparel tent
The place was a madhouse. Narrow walkways split clothing rack after clothing rack. The floors were mud-soaked broken-down cardboard boxes, placed on the ground to create a make-shift floor to “protect” people from the mud. There wasn’t anything good, so we didn’t stick around long before heading back.

Later we made our way to Auditorium Shores so that Brad could get as close as he’ll ever be able to get to his dream girl, Zooey Deschanel.

Auditorium Shores
As you can see in the map, the venue is right off of Town Lake. (Non-locals: please know that Town Lake is not actually a lake, but a portion of the Colorado River that flows through the city. I guess because it’s so wide through downtown, the water flow seems slower, giving the appearance of a lake? Honestly, I dunno why. Go resurrect Paul Harvey for the rest of the story.) With temperatures hovering over the 40-degree mark and 25-35 mph winds gusting, being right off the water amplified everything. It was miserable! I figured the cute little actress would have no part in this. I mean, she was probably doing the show for free. And she’s hot. Hot chicks don’t do this kind of insanity, right?

terrible picture, i know Auditorium Shores
I kid. Headliners sometimes get paid a bit, but the supporting acts are paid in SXSW badges—typically worth anywhere from $600-$750 apiece, depending on when you buy them. The badges have the band member’s (or purchaser’s) name on them so you can’t resell them. Badges get you access to just about every music venue (or maybe all of them?) for free, plus a whole slew of other perks. You also get to enter a different “VIP” line instead of waiting in line with people wanting to get in without badges. These lines are usually shorter and can get you into the venue much quicker. Miike Snow’s Friday performance would’ve been a lot easier to get into if we’d had one of these wrapped around our neck.

SXSW badge
So Zooey eventually came out, an hour and 20 minutes later than their originally scheduled time slot, all bundled up with a red hat covering most of her face. After some sound board fiascos during the first song, they eventually started sounding like a real band. She & Him was definitely a teenage girl draw. Many of the girls surrounding us knew all the words to their songs, while the guys around us were our age and would shout stuff like “WHY ARE YOU SO BEAUTIFUL?!” and “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” in between tunes.

zooey deschanel Zooey Deschanel, of She & Him, at Auditorium Shores
After I couldn’t feel my toes (or the rest of my feet, for that matter) any longer from the freezing temperatures, we decided to make our way over to The Belmont to see this “Indiana Jane” group play. I have to note that earlier in the day we’d done our research as to who was playing that night and we didn’t see an “Indiana Jane.” We did, however, see a Beth Jean in the line-up for 11. Hmm. Maybe that’s what she said…Beth Jean is kinda close to Indiana Jane. So I pulled up Beth Jean’s website, which is currently her myspace page. Hmm. This lady doesn’t look like the one I met last night at Chuggin Monkey. Maybe the one I met is in her band?

Immediately after showing up at The Belmont, Brad and I both recognize a lonely blonde in the corner as Beth Jean. I strike up a conversation with her (shocking, right?) and eventually find out that it’s singer-songwriter night (score!) and that they’re all just playing by themselves. We move a little closer to the stage and I recognize the girl from the night before sitting opposite us. I walk up and clumsily discover her name is Lee Anna James! Lee Anna James…Indiana Jane…close enough, yeah? Cut me some slack! It was really loud during AutoVaughn’s performance the night before!

As nice and sweet as Beth Jean was, she wasn’t up for socializing too much and so when Lee Anna asked if Brad and I wanted to head over to another venue to meet some of her friends we were on it! Lucky Lounge is where we ended up—we met her friend Casey who the night before had introduced me to Lee Anna.

Lee Anna James and Casey
@ Lucky Loungewith Lee Anna James
After a quick drink, we made our way back over to The Belmont to see the Wisconsin girl perform a handful of songs. (For those of you who will ask, no this is not a color-accented photograph! These really were the colors of the walls and Beth Jean’s jacket and stockings and the lights shining on her.)

Beth Jean Beth Jean at The Belmont
After she played, we did the math and discovered that with all the performances pushed back, Lee Anna’s performance was probably going to be right at closing if not altogether cut. It had been a long day of drinking, so we left after Beth Jean. But not without seeing Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine fame!!! He was sitting in the back at a private booth with a woman chatting it up while a bouncer stood guard in front of their table. Nuts. Nuts I tell you! He had played the night before at The Belmont with his group Street Sweeper Social Club! (Brad and I saw this on a banner somewhere, but figured it would be way too crowded to try to get in and see them.) I pulled a ‘Nashville’ and left him alone, instead of getting a picture with him like I wanted!

tom morello Tom Morello
To clarify what I mean by a ‘Nashville,’ just about every time I’ve been to Nashville (aka Nashvegas, aka the ‘ville) I’ve seen someone famous…either of music or television or film or sport fame. And I always think “These guys don’t want to be bothered by fans wanting to take pictures…I’ll just play it cool like it’s no big deal I’m hanging out with ______ and then they’ll think I’m cool!” (Idiot. I know.) I’ve only broken this mentality once, and that was when I saw Julianne Hough at George Strait’s private after-party last year in Houston. I’m going to stick to it because I want the ‘star’ to feel comfortable around me, but in the end I have no pictures to prove I got to hang out with them! It’s a win-lose situation for sure.

Julianne Hough with Julianne Hough in Houston
blake shelton Blake Shelton singing karaoke in Houston
See! This was the only picture I got of Blake because I feared maybe he didn’t like his picture taken. So I popped a quick photo and then hid my camera! Don’t ask how I got in. But being in a tent surrounded by George, Blake, Julianne and more? Incredible. I don’t even know how to put it into words. My good buddy knows I fully appreciate his efforts into getting me inside this party! And it was a good one, I might add!

Now that I’ve fully digressed, I’ll wrap this puppy up. I felt like I needed to explain my ‘Nashville’ thing though! So. SXSW. Awesome. Definitely a must-do, especially if you love indie music or up-and-coming stars/bands. It’s such a unique experience, because it’s so different from a typical music festival. Instead of it being out in an open field, it’s spread throughout the great city of Austin…forcing you to get to know the town. I more than regret not having gotten my butt over here years ago!

Even though I didn’t get to see Miike Snow, I got to see and meet a lot of really great bands and singer-songwriters over the entirety of the weekend; something you don’t always get to do and something a lot of people never get to experience in their life. Next year…I’m saving up for that $600 badge!

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