I took my last stroll down Sixth Street, taking in the spectacle of people around me. I arrived at my final destination, Encore, a bit before 11p. I was supposed to be on the list for tonight’s show, but when I went to check in, they told me that list was actually for the previous night’s show….now that’s a mistake that can only occur at SXSW…DOH!
Encore used to be called Spiro’s back in ‘the day’. Spiro’s was an after hours dance club that was filled with trance music, trannies, druggies, and college kids like me up to no good. One time I was sitting on a bench with my guy friend in the wee hours of the morning, when this beautiful she-he walks up to him and goes, ‘hey- I sucked your dick last weekend!’, to which we all immediately avoided eye contact with him and decided to call it a night. That will go down as one of the most awkward situations I’ve ever been in….
Suffice it to say, it was a bit odd to attend a metal show in the confines of this club, when the disco lighting still remained among the newly tacked up portraits of Iggy Pop, Sid Viscous, and Dimebag Darrell. The small room was pretty packed so I went and stood in the back at first.
I’m not sure what went down before I got there, but Rwake seemed to be apologizing for only being able to play a short set. “We drove a long way to be here, man, from Arkansas….but whatever”. I think they may have played three long songs. I just couldn’t get into it…..it felt like it never went anywhere.
I moved up to get a good view of my final set of SXSW, SF gruesome twosome Black Cobra. Last time I saw them was at an Amoeba in store performance. As soon as the set began, there was a push towards the front, and the guy in front of me decided to play protector to the point where I had to tell him, ‘hey, I can take care of myself!’ One girl up front decided that, to avoid the crowd crush, she would just hop right up on stage, crawl between the guys, and go sit on the side of the stage.
I had never seen BC from this angle before, so between sweaty bodies getting in my way it was interesting to watch them grimace at the crowd. At one point this drunken girl who had felt me up earlier in the evening somehow elevated herself and I thought she was going to attempt to break their concentration but she wussed out. When BC were told they needed to finish their set, the crowd begged for more. I’m lucky I get to see these guys as frequently as I do.
It was fitting that the loudest, most ear-rattling set of my SXSW experience would be my final show. I would have stayed for Weedeater, but I’m seeing them back in ‘reality’ on my home turf this weekend.
As I walked to the corner to wait for my ride, I looked at the streets littered with flyers and different promotional items. I walked past beat up cars and vans and trailers with ragged looking musicians fitting their equipment back inside. Over the course of three days, I saw a wide variety of music- from metal to hip hop to rock to pop, in a wide variety of spaces- from a pizza parlor to a BBQ joint to a gay bar to a lounge. I found the whole SXSW experience to be pretty inspirational. Bands of all shapes and sizes from far and wide descended on this small city in Texas all for the spirit of music, and I felt that strongly the entire time I was there. They all played in less than ideal conditions, with difficult circumstances and unpredictable crowds. But it felt like everyone was there for the same reason, to celebrate music in their own way, whether they be a musician, producer, songwriter, promoter, photographer, fan, writer, or little blogger like me. It felt good to be around such like minded people. I saw old friends, met new ones, saw familiar bands, and discovered new ones. While I’m at home sick probably because of everything I did at SXSW, I definitely emerged with a renewed respect for musicians. When you see Dillinger Escape Plan selling their merch out of a plastic tub on the street, or two people performing on the street at 2pm luring people with free cupcakes, or walking around passing out branded tissue packets advertising their band’s name- you know that these people are doing this because they LOVE it.
And after 28 bands in 12 venues over 3 days, plus 15 hours of writing about it all, I love it, too.
Cough cough sigh….who’s bringing me soup?