March 21st, 2010 5:33 pm | by Local Cut Music | Posted In: Columns, Tour Diary, Live Cuts

LocalCut at South By Southwest: Saturday

casey's favorite signOn day four of our Austin trip, things take a turn for the cold, and for the strange. At the end of the day, we may have stumbled into a Music Festival Time Machine! Read on...

Best band (rapper) Casey saw: Murs
Best band Michael saw: The Capstan Shafts

12:15 pm @ 45 and Red River
Wait, am I in Austin? Is this really happening? The sunny 75-degree afternoons are gone and replaced by dark gray clouds, whipping, brutal 20 MPH winds, and a temperature that's barely hovering above 40 degrees. It's like a bizarro world SXSW today. I have no jacket. I have no gloves. This could be a long day. MM

12:30 pm on the 338 bus
Damn you, Google Maps! This bus is definitely not heading downtown, or at least it's winding its way in a crazy direction to get there. I get off at a gas station and am directed toward the 5, which puts me right where the normal bus we've been taking does: 10th and Congress. Got a long walk in the wind to the Portland Industry party. MM

World's Greatest Ghosts
1:15 pm @ the Liberty Bar
I can't feel my fingers, but as I get close to the Portland Party I hear World's Greatest Ghosts playing and run to make it inside before I miss my favorite jams. The scene outside is hilarious: everyone is bundled up in scarves and hats and gloves like we're in Alaska or something. Everyone exchanges high fives and tries to rock out, but it's still a little uncomfortable because it feels like we're all outside on the back patio of The Nest in January, not in freaking Texas. MM

2 pm @ Liberty Bar
Jon Ragel of Boy Eats Drum Machine is wearing a t-shirt, that crazy mofo. He sounds and looks really confident and unfazed by this weather. MM

Joan of Arc
2:25 pm @ Red Eyed Fly
"Guitar playing requires a lot of manual dexterity," Joan of Arc's Tim Kinsellas says from the stage. "And that's really affected by the cold. This fucking sucks! It's like trying to use chopsticks with mittens on!" CJ

2:45 pm @ Liberty Bar
Wampire's Rocky Tinder thanks “Jared Sleez” for putting on the show, which gets quite a chuckle from the audience. I think most of us might heckle but don't want to waste the energy. The big question is on everyone's mind (OK, probably just mine) is whether Rocky and Eric will take their clothes off. It's kind of a last song tradition at this point, as they sing that epic synth love jam, but I dunno if they've ever stripped down in such harsh conditions. MM

3:15 pm @ Liberty Bar
Yep, the place just got all kinds of naked. Both Rocky and Eric strip off everything but their too-tight briefs and jump and writhe over the small makeshift stage. I love how during Wampire's set you can tell that people start out kind of skeptical about the band's set always end up loving it by the end. That's the power of almost seeing some hipster junk. MM

3:20 pm @ Lovejoy's
Le Loup may be the least hip-looking band I've seen thus far (they look like bad-boy dropouts from a Midwest polytechnic school), but musically, the Washington DC group is pretty cool indeed. Vocal loops and tribal drumming meet psychedelic guitar lines and lots of clapping to make for a dance party that'd fit right in to Portland's analog dance music scene. But yeah, definitely not posing for any American Apparel ads. Thank God, because Texas will burn you out on good-looking, well-dressed people. CJ

4:25 pm @ The French Legation
Karen Elson is wearing a long, flowing dress. She has to be fucking freezing up there, but she's not letting on—in this case, looking like a slightly gothic turn-of-the-century Southern Baroness is more important than staying warm. Did I mention she can sing? CJ

Moon Duo
5:04 pm @ Cheer Up Charlie's
Both members of Moon Duo are bundled up in scarves and layers, including the cutesy little matching fuzzy ball hats. Wind blows on the microphones, giving the music a lo-fi background buzz. The music is punchy like Spoon or Tago Mago-era Can. Unfortunately, everyone is too cold to dance, even when Sanae Yamada's synth goes all Logan's Run on us. CJ

Bear In Heaven
6:30 pm @ Friend Island (Hometapes & Force Field party)
I'm way too late for the free pancake breakfast, but I finally get to see Bear In Heaven, a band I've been digging for a while and keep on missing at every party here. The sound is kinda crappy, but that's expected at an outdoor show on a back patio. Bear In Heaven still sounds triumphant, pushing these hooky songs that drift between cloudy dream-pop and more straightforward anthemic material, and the poor sound quality only makes the obvious hooks stand out even more. MM

7:15 pm @ Mess With Texas
Quickly jet over to catch Andrew WK's last song, and it's obvious he's having a great time onstage. The people in the crowd, though, look miserable. I hate complaining, but it's just miserably cold outside, and no one was prepared for this: for three days it was sunny and in the lower 70s and then suddenly it's so chilly that I doubt the high passed 45 degrees. It also doesn't help that WK has turned into a big overblown festival rocker; though his stuff is still a riot, you really need to experience it in small club where everyone can lose their shit. Standing at the back of a huge open field and trying to hide from the wind is not a recipe for a party. MM

7:40 @ Mess With Texas (lower stage)
Japandroids are supposed to be on now, but everything outside is so behind schedule that they probably won't play for another hour or two. A scrappy little band is onstage, and after some research (asking the girl next to me) it turns out it's recent Sub Pop signee Avi Buffalo. The first few songs aren't bad—midtempo sunny pop songs with boy/girl harmonies—but the last one is a real barnburner. After riding a nice groove for a few minutes the guitarist launches into some noisy, Iran Kaplan-esque fretwork, and the whole thing reminds me of Yo La Tengo. I'll have to check ‘em out again soon. MM

8:15 pm @ MWTX
"GWAR! GWAR! GWAR! GWAR! GWAR! GWAR! GWAAAAARRR!" The band comes out, lumbering onstage with those gigantic foam costumes, and before long they're spurting blood and green ooze all over the eager crowd. "Fuck Healthcare!" the singer shouts into his microphone, eliciting squeals and screams from curious hipsters and a dedicated cabal of metalheads. Somewhere Billy Bragg cries a solitary tear. CJ

9 pm @ Wave Rooftop
Waiting for the Capstan Shafts to start, I realize that I have no idea what Dean Wells looks like. Wells has written some of my favorite songs of the past few years, but he's an enigma—until just recently no one knew what the dude looked like because he's only played like three shows and his photo doesn't appear anywhere online or on his album artwork. A large part of the Capstan Shafts appeal is this mystery: just who is this reclusive weirdo who writes these perfect 2-minute lo-fi pop songs with wordy titles? Well, it turns out Wells is tale and lanky, with wild curly hair and a crack four piece backing band, and the band rocks a lot more than on Wells' home-recorded records. MM

9:15 pm @ Wave Rooftop
It's hard to avoid a Guide By Voices comparison when talking about the Capstan Shafts, and I can totally see it in the live show. Wells—who plays everything on his own records—is only singing tonight, and for most of the show he's been holding a beer in one hand and a mic in the other. Robert Pollard, anyone? MM

9:30 pm @ Wave Rooftop
I'm at the front of the stage with four other super nerds calling out song titles. Yeah, it's that type of show. Almost everything the band plays is new, but Wells ends with two of my favorites, “Sleepcure Theory Advancer” and a stunning rendition of “More Lovely Than Likely,” which would be a power pop hit in a better world. After the set I work up the courage to introduce myself and we talk about the East Coast and tacos before Wells leaves to pack up the band's stuff. MM

10:15 pm Outside Wave
It's at this point of the night where I have to make a decision: do I try to get into the Pitchfork show by myself (it's badges only) to see Sleigh Bells, the band everyone's talking about? Or do I hang out with my friend Ben and try to get into one of these insane after parties? I've been hearing all sorts of rumors being tossed around about surprise guests—Jay-Z at the Fader Fort; Snoop at Perez Hilton's shindig; Lady Gaga somewhere. It turns out that the P4K showcase is a long walk, and it's so cold that I can't feel my fingers anymore. Ben has a lead on the Perez party, so we walk down to 3rd street to check it out. MM

10:30 pm Outside the Perez party
There's a long line to get in, and it's not moving. Most of the people have wristbands, and after failing to sneak in the back door a “friend of a friend” meets us to give us two wristbands. The two girls easily slip them off their wrists so we do what any rational person would: walk around until we find a convenience store. MM

breakin' in
10:35 pm @ 2nd Avenue Market
We grab a pair of scissors, slightly cut the wristbands, and steal tape to fasten them on. I'm the MacGyver of SXSW. MM

11 pm @ Club de Ville
I'm here at the Respect the West showcase to see Murs and DJ Quick, but it looks like I'm gonna have to wait awhile. The Get Busy Committee is just starting up, an hour behind schedule, and there are like 30 people at the edge of the stage, most of whom look like rappers. The GBC throws down a solid set, then Kurupt comes up to completely level the audience with a guest appearance from Daz Dillinger. Together they blast through tracks I didn't even knew that I knew—songs from the darkest corners of my surreal rural upbringing. The rumor is that Snoop Dogg's going to stop by, but that appearance—like the scheduled set from Xzibit, that giddy-but-hard rapper of raps and pimper of rides—never happens. Apparently Snoop is rolling pretty deep with Perez Hilton across town. CJ

11 pm Oustide the Perez party
Fuck, they still won't let us in. All that work for nothing! MM

Midnight @ Barbarella
It's cold and we're drunk and tired of trying to sneak into some lame party. Barbarella seems like a much better option, and No Age is coming on soon. Plus, the drinks are strong and cheaper than a lot of the other venues in this town. Gawd what I'd do for a hot toddy right about now. MM

12:45 am @ Club de Ville
U-N-I, with their onstage drummer and Run DMC meets the Ramones fashion. is about the puniest hip-hop group I've ever seen. By the end of the set, they're stage-diving and bouncing around in the crowd. I cant really tell whether or not the music is any good, but these dudes are pretty wild. CJ

1:05 am @ Club de Ville
Murs is explaining the "stress and responsibility that comes with dating a black woman." Apparently trips to the grocery store always turn into fights. This seems like a gross generalization to me, but a lot of the black guys in the crowd are near-tears with familiar laughter, so what do I know? CJ

1:15 am @ Barbarella
No Age's new jams aren't as catchy as their older stuff, and more focused on pastoral noise and epic builds than a straight punk rock punch to the gut. The bar plays Talking Heads' “Once in a Lifetime” between sets and it turns into one big old drunken dance party. This is a good way to end things. MM

DJ Quick
1:57 am @ Club de Ville
DJ Quick says that bak in the day, Eazy E introduced him to some boys from Cleveland that E would bring around the studio. "Without further ado," he says. "Can we bring to the stage the incomparable Bone Thugs and Harmony?" People go INSANE as the start in on "1st of Tha Month." Every hand is in the air., everyone is jumping up and down like they just won the lottery. CJ

WE GOT IN! I guess the security gave up at the end of the night and started letting us lucky folks with wristband sneak in the back door. First order of business: score some free drinks! Vodka and Arizona Tea is a terrible combination, but I'm already buzzed and couldn't care less. – MM

2:08 am @ Club de Ville
Now this improvised supergroup is running through songs from every fallen '90s hip-hop hero from E to Pac an Biggie Smalls. "Y'all that fuck with Eazy E, y'all that fuck with Biggie, who y'all think is next?" they go into Ride or Die. CJ

2:15 am @ Perez Party
Holy shit, Hole is playing! Courtney Love is alive! I've already had two drinks! These days “Hole” consists of Love and a cast of hired guns, and the band just covered Fleetwood Mac's “Landslide.” Do you think Billy Corgan introduced it to her? MM

2:17 am @ Perez Party
Oh shit, it's “Miss World.” I feel like I'm 12 years old again. MM

2:20 am @ Perez Party
The guitar player with the silly top hat is fine and all, but where's James Iha when you need him? MM

2:22 am @ Perez Party
This party reminds me of why I left Los Angeles. So many overdressed douche bags, fake big shots and girls who look like they got drunk at Forever 21 and all stole the same cheap dress. Keep it classy, Perez. MM

2:24 am @ Perez Party
Courtney just called us all cunts! Gawd the '90s were so angsty. MM

2:28 am @ Perez Party
If you're wondering, Courtney looks like a mess. A hot mess. And she just made a terrible joke about being on her period. Run away, Francis Bean, before it's too late! MM

2:30 am @ Club de Ville
DJ Quick is such a gentleman between songs that it's kind of hard to reconcile the man with his crass, addictive raps. He goes back and forth between material from the early '90s and cuts from his next album, and both sound incredibly smooth. Later I'll spend the cab ride home trying to remember what songs Quick played for the stoked and decidedly old-school cabbie. CJ

2:35 am @ Perez Party
The chorus of some new song goes, “People like me fuck people like you.” No, girl, people like you fuck the nearest coke dealer. Is that too harsh? At this point she's basically just a caricature of herself, but the old hits rule, and I'm drunk and happy and nostalgic and buzzed off this damn iced tea. MM

3 am @ San Jacinto Street
We see what we think is a crazy person talking to porta-potties. So we ask if we can interview him on camera, and he says "sure, but y'all gon' get a lot more than you bargained for!" Once we start talking to the guy (see video at, it turns out he's not so crazy after all: He's a sweet dude who's just a little drunk and really into collecting drumsticks. He introduces himself as "Wayne, the Drumstick King of Texas," and shows us a photo of an entire wall in his house that's plastered with autographed drumsticks. "Wow, this is your house?" I ask. "It was," he replies. "But this all burned down." We tell him we're headed to the Gulf for a few days before going back home, and he issues a friendly warning. "Watch out for jellyfish! The Gulf'll kill ya!" He invites us back to next year's SXSW and we say our goodbyes. "There goes the greatest man that ever lived," I tell my friend Henry. "And they called him Wayne the Drumstick King." CJ

3:40 am Cab ride home
We talk to the cab driver about West Coast rap and Bone Thugs. Looks like they didn't do “The Crossroads.” Goodnight, sweet SXSW prince. What a ride. MM

Endnote: We have some odds and ends, and some video, but our internet connections have been pretty shaky so we'll likely have a make-up post coming your way in the next couple of days. Along the same lines, we're hung over and sleepy enough that there may be a few errors in this post, and we apologize for that, too.
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