Life gains speed as SXSW continues and the blur increases. By the end of the week, when people ask about favorite shows and break-out bands, I either draw a complete blank or start rattling off 15 different names.
When I think back on each individual day, I can hardly pinpoint who I saw that day, when and where. (That's why I thank God for instagram and Twitter, my online, public journals that help me to remember as much as they give people something to read, look at and follow.) In a single week I've seen some of the greatest musical legends of all time and I've been sweat-dripping distance from most of them. I've also seen new, young bands in half-empty rooms, blow the faces off of those who knew enough to stick around. It's the beauty of the fest - most of it (for an attendee) is accidental. But they're a great series of happy accidents.
It's all about who you're with at the moment, the bands you catch and the ones you miss, and the circumstance you're in always leads to something else. It's tough to mess up at SX. As long as you're out of your hotel room, you're experiencing something. It might just be the madness of 6th Street or the awful task of getting a cab, but it's still something memorable and chances are, at any given moment, there's music going on near enough to hear.
It's also amazing how you get to know and love the people you travel with. In our situation, we stay at an unusual set of accommodations: a house, off of S. Congress, just outside of downtown. We've got a few rooms that we share among the group, kitchens, a backyard and one minivan to share. It adds a whole new layer to the trip. And with the strong personalities, adventures and misadventures of this group (don't ask), this trip has become even more memorable.
It's the last day now and we're all ready to give up on the SXSW run-around and live like Austinites do for 99% of the year. We'll catch some fried chicken and oysters at Lucy's, we'll listen to some prime country music, we'll two-step with the old Texas gents (at least I will), drink a few Lone Stars and, of course, play some chicken shit bingo.
We'll also sit back and reflect on our favorites of the week, the next big things and the legends we finally got to see. A few from the past two days will make my list:
- St. Paul and the Broken Bones: incredible soul in this group. They've got the horns, the Sam Cooke-style vocals and a front man that looks like Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies and works a crowd like you wouldn't believe.
- Jared James Nichols: dirty blues rock with a bassist that looks and moves like Jimmy Page.
- Aijia: Alicia Keys, watch out. All this chick needs is a bassist to fill out and move along her piano soul.
- Kimberly Nichole: Her band hit the jackpot. We all agreed the drummer, bassist and guitarist could get set on fire and we'd all still be staring at her. This little lady has some of the best pipes I've ever heard in my life without question, and a stage presence that can make anyone stare.
- Stone Foxes: That rowdy rock never gets old. (See Day 2/3)
- The Lone Bellow: The break-out act of SXSW 2013? We'll see. (see Day 2/3)
- Macklemore: This set blew up at Rachel Ray's day party at Stubbs. Hands were flying for this breaking band and it was obvious a good deal of the crowd was there for them...that and the free booze and food. (Thank you, Rachel!)
- Reignwolf: This act can be summarized in just a short sentence: He broke three strings within the first two songs. Rip-your-face-off rock.
- Kenny Loggins and The Blue Sky Riders: It's Kenny Loggins. (What more do you need to know?) And the Blue Sky Riders, with Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman, have some of the most beautiful harmonies on the planet.
- The Levon Helm Tribute: JJ Grey and Mofro, Steve Earle, Robert Randolph and the Family Band and the Midnight Ramble Band. If you aren't familiar with the artists, just stop reading and start buying their music. Highlight - Carolyn Wonderland playing with the Ramble Band on "Don't Do It".
Now, wish me luck in chicken shit bingo. I could use the cash.
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