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Friday, March 14, 2008

Stacy Schwartz words from SXSW Day 2

Mark Wheat at the 89.3 Stage

Day Twooooo

* Times are approximate… I didn’t write much down this day*

9:30 – Drag self out of bed, shower (much needed), head over to the Convention Center for Lou Reed keynote speech.

10:30 – We get two (TWO!) whole minutes to take as many photos of Lou Reed as possible. It’s nuts. About 60 photographers crammed on the floor in front of a stage that’s about 18 inches off the ground, constantly flashing (and not) and all you hear is “click click click click” and nothing else. I don’t even know what Reed talked about. After our 2 minutes they shuffle us out and we are forced to the back of the room, where it’s packed and standing room only. We are told the Fire Marshall will ticket us and SXSW if we stay because you must be in a chair (there’s none in sight). I sigh and head off.

11:00 – I’d gotten some text messages earlier from Eric Lovold of The Alarmists and so I find out they are playing a few blocks down at the 710 Club. I head over there to the Voltage party. When I get there The Alarmists are setting up and MC/VL are running around the bar with cordless mics getting in everyone’s face. It’s silly and awesome. …also nice to see MN representing in Austin. There aren’t a ton of people there, but random photographers and such pop in. The Alarmists play their set – a nice mix of a few new songs and some stuff from their EP and full-length album. I stay for another MC/VL set (they play in-between the other MN acts) and then go outside to get some air (it’s a dark bar sort of like the 400 Bar). I see more Minneapolitans like White Light Riot and Bill DeVille from The Current. I wait for Andrea Myers, who’s on her way down to the bar. She calls home while I meander over to The Current’s day party tent, which is just next door to the 710 Club.

12:00 – At The Current tent they have a place to make t-shirts (I make one that says “Staciaann” thinking the words are on the back of the shirt, but they are on the front. Doh!). They also have a button-maker and tons of music mags. You can choose your pic and they’ll make you a button. I make one with a little devil on it and I make one for my boy that says “Poet.” It’s fun! Jesca Hoop is on stage and her voice is clear and sweet. She sings Money and a few others from her most recent album. I like her more with a full band than I dd when she opened for The Polyphonic Spree at The Fine Line last summer. Current DJ Mark Wheat is on stage with the bands and doing the intros and such. Hee! It’s odd to hear him and be able to see him at the same time. I <3 style=""> I also run into Lindsay Kimball at the venue as she’s helping produce this year’s SXSW coverage. After Hoop’s set, I decide to try and find out when Tapes ‘N Tapes are playing at Emo’s later in the day.

12:45 – On my way to Emo’s, I actually run into the band. They are just hanging out on the street talking. Find out TNT plays at 5:20, so I have plenty of time to do a few things before their show.

1:00 – I head back towards The Current tent to collect Andrea. I run into Chris Kallal, Ryan McMillan, Tony Najm, and Jorge Raasch just hanging out waiting to load their gear into their new van. Andrea and I decide to attempt to see Nada Surf at the Paste Magazine party. We head over there…

1:25 – Paste Mag party is crowded, but manageable. They have free drinks with SoCo in them… blech. I pass. Andrea and I squeeze our way toward the front of the stage and I ask some people if they’d mind if I stand in front of them for some pics, and they say, “You’re obviously not from the coasts, are you?” I laugh and we talk about music, Minneapolis and Nada Surf. They are very nice Austinites and others from across the US. Nada Surf takes the stage acoustic-style just like the show they did at The Nomad back in January. It’s good. They are dead on and wonderfully harmonious. They end the set with David de Young’s new favorite song “See These Bones.”

2:00 – Andrea and I stop to say hello to Ira and Matthew and we head out onto a patio. They have free chips and cheese and also Fuse drink. Andrea grabs some chips and I grab some Fuze and we chill out. Ben, Nada Surf’s manager, appears to say hello (he also manages Elvis Perkins, and was the one I worked with to set up both Perkins’ and Nada Surf’s shows in Mpls). He’s very nice and we have a great conversation with him. Andrea ends up interviewing Matthew for The Electric Fetus and I interview both Matthew and Ira for my nerdy blog-cast. It’s weird to be holding the phone up as a mic, but we work with it.

2:45 – Gotta jet back over to The Current’s tent to catch DeVotchKa. Andrea and I walk back over there and get there just as DeVotchKa is playing their first or second song. Mark Wheat begins the live broadcast and he sounds and looks positively giddy. HUGE grin and just overall excited for this band. I can’t blame him at all. We are told that the band will be playing one song “by request of The Current staff.” Owning “Live from The Current Vol.1,” I know they are talking about “Queen of the Surface Streets” and I can’t wait. DeVotchKa launches right into it and I am in heaven. Beautiful, soaring strings, amazing vocals that reach out and grab my heart and squeeze it. The strawberry chocolate-chip whipped topping pancake on my day is when I hear that intro. Oh my God, that intro! I can hum it in my head now. They swell and soar and float and knock me out with “Queen of the Surface Streets.” I am literally a bit breathless. Wheat is pounding on his knees at some points, holding his hands as in prayer in another moment and I have never seen that man smile so big. That seems to be the general consensus of all there. I have never been so overwhelmed in such a lovely way. I could die right now, and it’s ok. Whew.

3:30 – After that set I try to say hi to Wheat, but run into Jeff Johnson and Craig Minowa from Cloud Cult. I interview Minowa for my HWTS nerdcast, hug Johnson, and I’m out to harass and follow DeVotchKa. They are trying to go somewhere to relax, but I have a nice brief conversation with their tour manager while we meander down the street. Andrea and I split off after a bit and head to the convention center to try and see a book signing and such.

3:45 – I hit up the trade show in the Convention Center. Andrea doesn’t have a badge, so they won’t let her in. I take one for the team and bust in, grabbing swag as I go. Free earplugs? Yes, please. Free CDs, stickers, postcards, t-shirts, egg shaker things, etc? Yes, please. I grab it all. I’m sure that much of this score will get dumped out later on and tossed, but that’s ok. I run into my friend Mark Trammell from Digg again and we check out some Koss headphones plugged into a turntable with Bon Iver playing. Sweet! I head out to grab Andrea and we go downstairs to Flatstock.

4:20 – Andrea and I drool over ridiculous amounts of concert posters by a myriad of artists I’ve seen on Sweet!! It’s awesome, but very, very dangerous. We have places to be and we head back to the hotel to drop off swag and so Andrea can dump her photos onto her computer.

5:10 – Leave the hotel and head over to Emo’s to catch Tapes ‘N Tapes. It’s packed. …and very, very hot. So hot that 1/3 way into the set Josh Grier has to remove his guitar and re-shorten the strap. He’s sweated so much that it keeps slipping. TNT plays a lot of their new album, along with crowd favorites “Cowbell” and “Insistor.” The crowd is full of people from every age group, and they are all singing. Surreal and awesome. I also run into Tony Nelson who’s down there taking pics for various publications. Andrea ends up at Emo’s later and after TNT’s set we jet off to think about food.

6:15 – We find The Alarmists again and wander down the street in search of the “Best Damn Tacos.” We get to the stand and the wait is 30 minutes. Boo. I grab a Dr. Pepper and we move on. Andrea and I end up getting some mediocre pizza from a walk-up restaurant on the street and we all just stand around trying to figure out what to do. I meet up with my friend Eric and he joins us to head to the bar The Library for $1 beers. At The Library we again run into the guys from White Light Riot and we all hang out for a bit. Andrea, Eric and I split off to see The XYZ Affair.

7:45 – Walking, walking… We get to the venue and some other band is on stage. WTF? Apparently they shifted the sets and I am subjected to the worst jammy-bullshit dribble I’ve heard. They are in the running for The Worst Band in the World. Not kidding. It’s this scratchy guitar and violin with drums being beaten and hammered. I want to cry. I am getting a headache and I keep cheering that their songs are over. Ugh. The lead singer prefaces their final song by saying, “This song is either about the cremation of the Jews at Auschwitz, or brutal sex. I don’t know which.” Ummm… what? Wow. When they are done I say a bit too loudly, “Thank GOD!” and Andrea laughs her ass off.

8:45 – The XYZ Affair take the stage and I am once again blown away by their awesome choral power. Yup. It’s that kind of nerdy. The boys open with “Sweet Adeline” and move into a bunch of songs off their latest album A Few More Published Studies. So good. SO good. I am once again blown away and happy as a clam. Andrea is grinning and I find out she thinks that lead Alex Feder is hot. Ahhh.. well, that was easy. Hee hee… They play a solid set and then find out they have more time than expected. I yell and yell and the boys oblige. “Don’t Stop Believing!” The XYZ Affair then launches into one of the best version of a Journey cover I’ve ever heard. I am laughing my head off, singing loudly, and just enjoying myself. Unfortunately I have to head off to make Mohawks to see Throw Me the Statue, so away I go.

9:25 – I walk/run to Mohawks to find the line long and winding. I am annoyed. They are letting in people without badges or wristbands who are friends of the owner. Ummm.. yes, but did they pay to be here? No. Gah. The band is supposed to play at 9:30, and I’m finally let in the door at 9:50. Boo! Meet up again with Trammell and we shoot the band. They are good, but nothing too special. After their set I jet off to try and see Liam Finn.

10:40 – Make it to The Ale House, which is a venue with a back alley entrance and it’s dark and crowded. I make it to the front and then the lights go out. Dammit. Not good for shooting pics. One of Finn’s tour managers comes up and holds a spotlight on him, which also means he’s sitting on my foot. I can’t move and my food begins it’s decent into sleep. Fuck. Owwwwww…. I shoot what I can, and eventually the lights rise a bit. I am impressed with Finn, but was paying too much attention to the light/foot situation to give a good review. Sigh.

11:45 – Trying to decide what to do next. Our group is spread out all over the place, but it seems everywhere is full and crazy busy. I am tired, sweaty, and I need to wash my hair. I also have 6 MB of photos to upload and that alone is enough to make me hit the hotel. Steve McPherson is there when I walk in around 12:15. I shower, upload, and then Matt Perkins shows up around 2am with a great story.

10:54 am on Friday – I just finished updating this nerdy blog and eaten my free hotel breakfast. Today is my most planned out day – and by that I mean planned for me. I am shooting the Pitchfork Media day party at Emo’s from noon – 6pm, which is awesome and sucks at the same time. I am most excited to see the band Fuck Buttons, but that’s mostly because I love their name. I MUST have a t-shirt. Please? Whee! Then tonight I am meeting up with Basia Bulat and she’s asked me to shoot her show at Antone’s Records. The awesome part is she’s playing with The Constantines, Vampire Weekend, and DeVotchka, so it should be great fun.

More later…. Supposed to be 93 degrees today. Oy. Sweaty Schwartz. Ick.