SXSW 2013: Friday 15 | Photos and music review
Friday I decided to cross I-35, the interstate that divides the east side of Austin from the “shit show” part of Sixth Street, to see what all the fuss is about. If my experience Thursday at SXSW was, say, a gentle ocean breeze, then Friday was a typhoon—the ’roided out kind that obliterates entire island nations. This is what all the haters were talking about: the crowds, the spring breakin’ frat boys on ecstasy, the technical issues, the plethora of sketchy “barbecue” stands lining gas station parking lots and back alleys. After stopping by St. Jermaine’s Laneway Festival at Red 7 for the set by XXYYXX, a.k.a. electronic artist Marcel Everett, it became immediately evident that any attempt to follow a schedule would be futile. And after waiting an hour in line to catch Phosphorescent at the Red Eyed Fly, sweating in the sweltering sun, I decided upon a different approach: Walk around and go to anything without a line.
Initially, this tactic seemed as if it would pay off. Around the corner from the Red Eyed Fly at Empire Automotive, I happened upon an appearance by jazz-fusion wizard Robert Glasper and—get this—Erykah Badu that did not have a line. I quickly entered the gates and decided to hang out until the pair of Grammy winners took to the stage. What I didn’t realize is that up before Glasper was neo-soul hippie crooner Alan Stone. The place quickly went from breathing room to panic room as the garage space filled to the gills. Sandwiched between a meathead in a tutu and a sweet group of Glasper enthusiasts, I decided to weather the storm. An hour passed. Two hours passed. Finally producer AmpLive, who is one half of Oakland hip-hop duo Zion I, emerged to warm up the room for Glasper. As he spun through a series of original tracks, I began to feel that the worst was over and my freewheeling experiment had succeeded. But then there was this: “Everybody has to leave. The fire marshal is here,” exclaimed the party’s host. No, really. The entire room, which had been standing for hours, was forced to exit as the club had admitted too many people. Not a pro move.
Almost five hours after crossing into the ninth ring of hell, I had seen two decent producers and a soulful white guy in Olsen Twin sunglasses. Let’s just say that spirits were low. Walking tail tucked down Sixth Street, I happened upon a nearly deserted showcase by Chicago label Trouble in Mind and headed inside. Greek garage punks Acid Baby Jesus were about to slay the vacant room, and the five-piece’s impressive display of noise was somewhat redeeming. Soon after, I learned that wacky Canadian crooner Mac DeMarco was about to play next door, and there was free poutine. It ended up taking about two hours for DeMarco to get going, and the poutine was just a couple of mushy fries with brown packet gravy and curds, but at least it was something, instead of, you know, nothing.
Do not wait more than 30 minutes for anything. There’s always something else going on.
When going rogue at SXSW, stick to the east side.