Ah, the joys of festival traffic. Chris and I are the last of the group to leave the hotel in the “morning,” and let me tell you, trying to find parking for a small SUV full of band gear during South By Southwest is no picnic. After circling around for a half hour or so, we land at a dirt lot off Red River Street that Chris assures me the band has used before with impunity. So that’s that problem solved.
3/16 1:06pm – I the Mighty @ Lucky 13 Cocktail Co.
From there it’s just a short walk back to Lucky 13 where I the Mighty — hailing from San Francisco and also pally with the members of Back Pocket Memory — are playing Equal Vision Records’ showcase. I have to say the band more or less lives up to their name, playing emphatic punk- and metal-infused rock with some tasty basslines thrown in for good measure and electrifying the gathered crowd despite the relatively early hour. When their set finishes, we pay our compliments — and take advantage of the open bar Equal Vision has so thoughtfully provided — before heading back to the car to collect BPM’s gear in advance of their second show of the festival.
3/16 3:03pm – Back Pocket Memory @ Agave
The members of Back Pocket Memory have a little more space to play with at Agave than they did at Fuel, not to mention a pretty impressive Texas-themed mural as a backdrop. They also have a more muscular sound system at their disposal, which draws a respectable crowd in from the muggy heat of 6th Street — especially when Chris runs out the door of the bar, mic cord trailing behind him, to preach the rock directly to the street. The band is enthusiastically received — “All We Have,” from their Beneath the Trees EP goes down well here, as it did at Fuel, and the band digs further and further into their back catalogue to meet the audience’s demand for more songs. After the show we mill around chatting with musicians, fans, and press before further gear shuttling inevitably ensues.
3/16 5:04pm – Dead Sara @ Rusty’s
By the time we make it back to the heart of downtown, Dead Sara is tearing into the opening song of their Rusty’s set with some serious aplomb. The band dominates the larger stage in the bar’s main room just as capably as it did back at Opal Divine’s, culminating in a dive through the drum kit by Armstrong during “Weatherman,” the lead single off the band’s self-titled record. That is maybe a little too rock & roll. It’s some seconds before she staggers to her feet — that one looked like it hurt.
3/16 8:01pm – Counting Crows @ Auditorium Shores
A brief personal aside from your correspondent: I love Counting Crows. Yes, I realize that’s not cool. No, I don’t care. I’ve also — for one reason and another — never seen the band play live during the 18 years or so that I’ve been a fan. So there was no way I was going to pass up the chance to see the band’s SXSW set, even if it meant leaving BPM behind and trekking across the Colorado River to Auditorium Shores.
The set is heavy on cover tunes from the band’s 2012 release,Underwater Sunshine, but opens with “Round Here” — my favorite Crows song — and closes with “Rain King” — my other favorite Crows song — so it would’ve been well worth a much longer walk for yours truly. The latter is augmented with nearly the entirety of Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” as a bridge. If Counting Crows are guilty of playing to the middle-aged cheap seats, they at least know who their audience is. Baby boomers and English music bloggers, apparently.
Having tried and failed to get into Skrillex’s show at the Mohawk Patio — one glance at the madness ensuing around the entrance was enough to confirm that my meager press connections were going to be of little use — I rejoin the members of Back Pocket Memory outside Myspace’s party at Recess back on 6th Street. The site is currently in the midst of rebranding itself as an artist-focused service — signs and promo t-shirts reading “MySpace is dead. Long live MySpace.” are everywhere — and the band is looking to take advantage of the event to make vital connections within the biz. The club-like atmosphere inside Recess, however, makes that next to impossible, and the decision is quickly made to bail on the proceedings and make some contacts the old-fashioned way — by going to a rock show.
3/16 11:31pm – Trashy And The Kidd @ Agave
Back at Agave, the distinctive dun-dun-dun-DUN-DUN beat from The Terminator rends the air, signaling the start of Austin locals Trashy And The Kid’s set. This is followed shortly thereafter by a cacophony of palm mutes and pinch harmonics that pleases the metalhead in me mightily. Trashy plays a blistering set pitched midway between glam metal and hardcore thrash, highlighted by frontman Paul Tylar swaggering down the length of Agave and leaping onto the bar counter, mic in hand, dripping sweat. Sanitary? Probably not. Rock & roll? Indubitably.
More info on South By Southwest
More info on Back Pocket Memory
Black & White Photography by Khris Poage
Crappy Photography by Ben Gill via Instagram