Unnofficial SXSW Part Two: We Still Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges!
Welcome to Friday, seekers of the free and communal. The bridge show deserves your attention first. A couple bridges West of the infamous Bat Bridge, lies its punk sister, Lamar Street, where every year at least a thousand kids make a citywide b-line to Oi!-it in suspension over the Colorado River, never before 2 a.m.
Not too keen on my bridge knowledge, but I’d wager that this is one of few structures of its kind with an electrical outlet on it. Plugged in by the time I hustled over there were hardcore Toronto crew, Fucked Up. It was a godsend that I showed up when I did, or else I’d be one of the handful of kids that had to plunge into the river once the band squalled out “Baiting The Public,” inciting a rail-to-rail moshpit with a riot one-liner by singer Pink Eyes, “You ruined life for us, now we’ll ruin life for you.” The multi-ton slab of concrete was actually shaking.
No Age carried the torch, making it approximately their 856th showcase of the week. Seriously, they’ve played everywhere, including our Paste gala on Saturday. At the bridge, though, the duo only had the necessities – drums, amp, axe – no electro toys to twiddle with. So it was all fuzz, DIY garage riffs and muffled drumming, perfect for scrap thrasher “Everybody’s Down,” that saw guitarist, Randy Randall, hop up on top of his amp and rip it early-Cobain, as fans both supported and derailed his balance. Drummer Dean Spunt’s closing sentiments: “That’s all she wrote.’”
Spunt couldn’t be more wrong. In an ironic case of piggybacking off piggybackers, the boom of another band’s drums could be heard at the west end of the bridge. A tribal freak show of a quartet had commandeered the giant, spiraling courtyard-type entrance. With no name to work off, and first-listen shock, I was a bit distracted by the lead singer’s get-up, sporting nothing but a loincloth of some mangled sort. That and how he got off on breaking the audience/performer boundary, hopping about like a wide-eyed circus ringleader with an affinity for the feel of his tongue on the mic. Once settled, though, it came off as quirky punk, like Zappa fronting just about any 80s-era NYC underground set. Of course I had to get the dude’s band name, to which he happily replied, “Mr. Free and The Satellite Freak Out,” before voicing probably the most memorable quote of my unofficial South By journey, “I’m covered in beer and somebody stuck their finger up my ass. How do you think I feel?”
Saturday brought upon mandatory rock star journalist mode, as the bridge show didn’t place me home until just shy of 5 a.m. And there were no excuses either, because ToddPNYC was concocting more free shenanigans all over the East Side, and Mohawk and the adjacent Club Deville had all-star day parties, as well. Mohawk trumped free tacos and Fat Tire with Film School, The Whigs and David Bazan, while Club Deville drowned them out with White Rabbits and Lyrics Born; both of these shows part of the Hot Freaks shindig.
After noshing on both the above eats and treats, and a dance session with Whigs smash 70’s rock revival single, “Right Hand On My Heart,” I hit the bold backyard of the Typewriter Museum’s showcase Fuck By Fuck You. How can you not go to a showcase called Fuck By Fuck You? Exactly. Another house/punk junkyard with caged goats, roaming dogs and retired typewriters saw free beer, and a good 10 of Texas’ finest local punk bands. A quartet from San Antonio called Swastikittens took the spotlight, mostly on account of fashion, some mash-up of German sterility and American outlaw. Their lyrics were pretty shabby, but good for those who dig deranged, gothic versions of Garbage.
On from there, ToddPNYC put together a rad showcase of lots of Social Registry acts at house/bar called Mrs. Bea’s. Despite some power failures, on more than one occasion, I caught Brooklyn’s Psychic Ills interrupt the space-time continuum with groovitron rocktronica and token favorite band of the entire festivities, another Brooklyn crew, Blood On The Wall. Cherrypicking the very best of Pavement lo-fi and the Pixies, closer “Acid Fight” was the fire, bringing back early-90’s adolescent rock outs.
I capped the evening with another East side shindig at Longbranch Inn, where Atlanta’s favorite power popsters the Carbonas shredded about a set of 2-minute speedsters. Kids were screaming along, right into singer Greg King’s face. And one true punk heart went in to a po-go-ing seizure, when old man on lead guitar, Josh Martin made a cameo on the closing tune.
All without a badge, my friends.
Please excuse me while I find my why to the annual Make Austin Weirder Fest. Crapulence is waiting to entertain me.