It would be my first time back for SXSW since I moved away from Austin 5 years ago. After a month of planning and schedule tweaking and scrounging around for guestlists and secret shows and planning meet ups, I had my excel sheet from hell and I literally was ready to hit the ground running.
How exhilarating is it to hop off a plane on 2 hours sleep, hop right into my mom’s Excursion, and go straight to ground zero of SXSW?! Thank goodness for a mom that understands that I’m crazy. “Hi Mom, it’s great to see you, thanks for carting me to the death metal show!” But as soon as we left the airport, there was a traffic jam. Luckily, since I used to live here, we went a back route towards downtown. Umlaut is texting me updates from my first destination…but I’m not sure I’m going to make the first band I intended on seeing at SXSW- Landmine Marathon. But I’m trying, because I want this trip to start off right.
I ended up hopping out of the car in the middle of the feeder of I35, and running to Hoek’s Death Metal Pizza. I walked in the door of this tiny place, where the smell of greasy pizza and unwashed boys wafts through the surprisingly warm air. And as soon as I got to the tiny little stage, there’s Umlaut. Yay! I was so excited that I made it, with 5 minutes to spare, no less.
As soon as they began, I was reminded of what a visceral reaction I have to watching Grace perform. That crazed look in her eyes, the uncontrolled, tick-like movements she makes with her hands- I’m 16 again in my mind and finding out my boyfriend cheated on me. And it’s even a stranger feeling this time around, as I’m standing in my homeland where this all happened.
The rest of the band is crammed onto this tiny stage- one of the guitarists, Dylan Thomas, is off the stage on the side. There’s no room for Grace up there, not that she would stay there anyway. She’s in the middle of the crowd, challenging them with her eyes, and when that gets old to her, she pushes them. Grace, bassist Matt Martinez, and guitarist Ryan Butler talk out the setlist as they go along, lending to the feeling of anything can happen that this band emits as they perform.
It’s hard to use the term buzz band with Landmine, but that’s pretty much what sums them up. Everyone who sees them walks away talking about them. And since this was the last of several SXSW shows for them, I could hear the crowd literally buzzing about them during the set; how they saw them at Emo’s and they were amazing, etc., etc.
It was interesting to see Landmine in the sunshine of the afternoon. It was a fantastic contrast, and the best way to begin the long Marathon for me that would be SXSW.