Matthew Singer wasn't the only Willamette Week writer at this year's South By Southwest. Here are how two other contributors, Nathan Carson and Emilee Booher, experienced the festival.
Nathan Carson's Top 10 Favorite Moments from SXSW 2013
1. Nik Turner performing Hawkwind's Space Ritual on a four-foot high stage in a sleazy rodeo bar while a busty topless woman rides on a mechanical bull. Definitely a David Lynch-meets-Butthole Surfers kind of moment.
2. Handing off a Witch Mountain record to Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke at Pitchfork's Show No Mercy showcase while Pallbearer was playing.
3. Finally seeing Chicago avant duo Spires That In The Sunset Rise after 9 years of long-distance curiosity.
4. Catching Finnish folk buzz band Hexvessel, and then getting to know them immediately after their packed show. Sweethearts!
5. Eating crazy-good BBQ brisket at Ruby's (not Rudy's) with "canonical" rock critic Chuck Eddy, and teaching his 4-year-old daughter to paradiddle with drumsticks The Shrine had just given her.
6. Being the token dude on the Women in Metal panel—and not putting my foot in my mouth.
7. My host Matt Walker (of killer Austin metal band Unmothered) finding an alternate place for Today is the Day to stay, instead of the living room where I was crashing.
8. Overlooking Lake Travis from the cheesy resort restaurant Oasis and feeling the cool breeze on a perfect sunny day in March. Nyah nyah!
9. Seeing Dallas synth-drums duo Pinkish Black for the first time. Damn, they're awesome!
10. Sticking it to Delta Airlines after they delayed my flight home and totally screwed up my perfect travel plans. By the time I was done, they'd bought me breakfast, lunch and a cab ride home from PDX and gave me a $100 voucher for my next flight. I am the tour manager.
Emilee Booher's Top Five Moments of SXSW 2013
Portland Party @ The Grackle
With so many artists spread about Austin, I felt somewhat guilty spending all day watching only Portland bands play. But considering the madness of downtown—where thousands of pedestrians compete for road space to catch some buzz-worthy artist’s half-hour long set—there’s comfort in watching the groups I already know. Plus, there was a pool next to one of the stages, and Tender Loving Empire is hosting a pretty hilarious underwater photo booth. I saw Wild Ones members wrapped in an American flag, the bassist of Sean Flinn & the Royal We sitting in a green inner tube and wearing a striped pink dress, and Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside doing synchronized cannon balls. This most likely won’t ever happen in Portland.
Battleme @ The 04 Lounge
One of the great things about SXSW is that you can pretty much go anywhere in Austin and find a dive bar or a converted venue space with live music. I happened upon Portland’s Battleme at the 04 Lounge, a dark and dingy bar on South Congress a few miles away from downtown. There were about 25 people in the audience, and frontman Matt Drenik and his bandmates shredded extended versions of their songs over the shitty PA system. The place felt grimy and real— screw the festival lines and the Porta Potties.
The Thermals @ Bar 96
There was a dude on another dude’s shoulders at the front of the crowd for the Thermals. Hutch Harris grabbed the one on top by the shirt and pulled him on stage—I think it made the guy’s whole SXSW experience. He scrambled around deciding what to do with his moment in the spotlight, and ended up muttering something incomprehensible through Harris’ microphone. Then he got off the stage and climbed back on the other dude’s shoulders. The band had the most excited crowd I saw at SXSW, and despite the Austin heat, the three members of the Thermals brimmed with energy.
The Flaming Lips @ Auditorium Shores
Seeing the Flaming Lips play outside next to the river just after sunset is pretty hard to beat. The crowd was huge and the smell of pot wafted above it. Caressing some sort of faux stuffed animal around his neck, Wayne Coyne was as weird as ever. The psychedelic light show behind him illuminated the outline of his head of curly peppered hair. I was too far away to make anything else out, but when the band starts to play “Do You Realize,” I looked around and saw that everyone in the audience felt the same way: stoked to be watching the fucking Flaming Lips for free.
The freeness of SXSW @ everywhere
The best realization I’ve made at SXSW is that I don’t really have to spend any money—there are too many free shows to even begin to see. There's a lot of free booze, too. It seems the biggest hindrance for watching music is deciding which showcases to go to. And if indecision is my biggest qualm with the festival, I’d say I didn't have much to complain about here.