Yes, like many things SXSW-related, I started off the convention overly ambitious. (I will see 10 bands every night! I will attend 90 percent of the parties I've been invited to! I will hand out my nifty purple Yahoo! business cards to every soul I meet! I will attend panels--AND take notes! And, most of all, I will blog 18 times a day!) But, as has been the case with every other SXSW I've attended in my illustrious career, I hit the wall on Saturday and spent most of day/night stumbling along 6th Street in a sleep-deprived fog, only to end the evening (well, technically, it was morning) collapsed in a heap on my hotel bed, still dressed and violating the #1 beauty rule of Thou Shalt Remove All Makeup Before Going To Sleep.
So now it's Sunday and I'm on the plane back from Austin, using my in-flight beverage ice to soothe my newly acquired black eye. No, I was not involved in a punchup with a drunken 6th Street reveler or anything like that; it's a much less interesting story involving a fellow passenger jostling me and causing me to slam my own laptop (the very one on which I am composing this blog) into my face. Not my proudest moment. But will this injury stop me from blogging? Heck no! I can still see out of the other eye, and after such a long delay between blogs, I can wait no longer. Because there's a whole lot of final-day ground to cover here.
OK, so Saturday began at the early-for-SXSW hour of noon at the Ny2Lon magazine party, where I was highly entertained by the matching-tracksuit electrofunk of Datarock. Then it was off to Emo's for even more rousing sets by Welsh emo kids the Automatic, snotpunky label-bidding-war subjects Gallows, and creepy-crawly goth group the Horrors--the latter of whom seemed ridiculously out of place playing under a blazing Austin sun on an outdoor stage. A stage that must've looked like a virtual sea of melted makeup and blue-black hairdye by the time they were finished.
At this point I was finally fully awake and good to go, but then the day started to fall apart. Attempts to shoehorn myself into the over-capacity Filter magazine party to see pub-rocky Scots the Fratellis were sadly thwarted. Then the line to get into the Fader Fort was longer than, and almost as unpleasant as, the port-a-potty line at Emo's. Suddenly it was 5pm and I realized all I'd eaten was a single measly 150-calorie cereal bar, so as my blood sugar plummeted I staggered around Austin trying to find something, anything, not sodden with grease or laden with meat (I'm a vegetarian, you see). This is not easy to do in Texas, America's BBQ HQ.
But, after ingesting an energy-dense health-foody bricklike coconut thingy and finding someone who was able to sneak me through the Fader Fort's side door, my second wind thankfully started to blow full force and I was back in bizness. Redman started rockin' the Fort joint soon after that, and I have to tell you, after nearly four days of standing in crowds full of jaded, cross-armed indie scenesters, it was really refreshing to hang with enthusiastic hip-hop fans who, when instructed to sing along or wave their arms in the air like they just don't care, actually happily did so. Myself included. Turn me on, Redman, indeed.
After that I hightailed it back to Emo's to see one of my TOP THREE FAVORITE BANDS OF ALL TIME (that was not a capslock error, that was for emphasis), old-school punks the Buzzcocks. Sure, they may have looked like a bunch of paunchy grandpas up on that stage (inspiring me to coin the new phrase "paunch-punk"), but let's face it, if any new buzzy Brit band of 18-year-old upstarts came to SXSW and played songs that sounded as new and now and wow as "Orgasm Addict" and "Ever Fallen In Love," the fawning press would be going totally ape-shiz for them. Suffice it to say that the Buzzcocks' 30-year-old punk anthems have aged extremely well, even if the band members themselves have not.
As great as the Buzzcocks were, my second wind started to downsize to a gentle breeze pretty much right after their set, and then when I hit 6th Street I was rudely reminded that it was St. Patrick's Day, as I was caught up in a mob of green-clad march-Madness drunkards and bachelorette-party guests, and I seemed to be the only person on the street not tanked up on cheap green beer. (That's right--unfun as it may sound at a musicfest that seems to revolve as much around open-bar parties as it does around actual music, I discovered that the secret to SXSW stamina is to barely drink at all. I'm talking about alcohol, of course. Drinking Red Bull is fine!)
Anyhoo, two of the acts I had hoped to see, bizarro metal nutbag Andrew WK and Northern England pop-metal vets the Wildhearts, had inexplicably cancelled their gigs. And I was so burnt out by this point that the idea of trying to wedge my way into the most hotly tipped show of perhaps the entire festival (Iggy Pop & the Stooges with Spoon and Kings Of Leon) made me want to cry. In such a confused state, I actually considered getting inked at one of 6th Street's many late-night tattoo parlors--I even went inside one, all humming with excitement as I listened to the hum of the tattoo needles, and picked out my design. But thankfully--probably because I had not been drinking, as I stated earlier--I wised up five minutes later and instead ended up participating in my friends' annual SXSW tradition...
See, every year on the final SXSW night, they pick out the most ludicrous band name on the schedule and go to that ludicrously named band's show. I suggested we either go see Who's Your Favorite Son, God? or Psychedelic Horsesh*t, but I was outvoted and we instead went to check out Lesbians On Ecstasy. Judging from the look and sound of LoE, their band name was not meant to be ironic. And while I have nothing against either lesbians or drug use--to each her own, I say--musically I was not that into it. So I got serious again and scurried off to catch excellent indie Australians Youth Group, who had been in our studio the day before and were super, super nice fellows. (You know what? I have never met an Aussie or New Zealander that WASN'T supernice. Seriously! I dare you to find me a rude, bitchy Aussie. I don't think it's possible.)
After that, I got my third or maybe even fourth wind and capped off the fest over at the Blender afterparty. Amy Winehouse was supposed to perform there, but like almost all of her SXSW gigs, she flaked. Rumor has it she had a bit of a breakdown after a breakup with her boyfriend last week, and was therefore in no shape to hop on the never-ending SXSW promotional treadmill. I know the breakup part of that story is actually true, because she mentioned it her Yahoo! interview, one of the few appointments on her SXSW promotional calendar that she managed to keep. (Thanks, Amy! And feel better soon, OK?) But I can't vouch for the rest of it. Anyway, it was all good, because replacement acts Paulo Nutini and Tokyo Police Club managed to keep the Blender guests entertained all the way through to 5am, even the famous ones like Danny Masterson, Perez Hilton, and Kirsten Dunst (who was not there with her rumored new boyfriend, Razorlight frontman Jonny Borrell). Paulo even sang Amy's hit "Rehab" in her honor, and did such a great job that I think Amy herself would have approved.
Sunday was spent scrubbing off my slept-in cosmetics and doing pre-emptive damage control by caking my easily aggravated complexion with Oxy 10, then I engaged in my own annual SXSW tradition of eating a hearty soy chorizo Mexican breakfast at La Masitas Avenue Cafe and shopping for Day Of The Dead trinkets at the Mexican folk-art boutique Tesoros (see the photo above for an example of their awesome merch, which I have bought so much of during past South By Southwests that my apartment now looks like a Tijuana chapel). Then I caught a cab to the airport (which was amusingly overrun with hungover rockers) and...well, that pretty much takes us up to the present.
We're about to land, so it's time to turn off all electronic devices (including this laptop) and return to the upright position. And return to reality. Yes, the party's finally over. But the memories remain, and shall be relived again and again when our SXSW coverage rolls out in the Who's Next/Critical Eye section of Yahoo! Music on March 28. So y'all come back now, ya hear?