Friday, March 14, 2024

SXSW 2024 - Day Two

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 7:10 AM

“My Iguana is in heat. He’s biting so make sure to have your shoes on.” explains Lori. Great, I looking at crashing on Lori’s floor over the weekend, and I have visions of me crashed on my sleeping bag and the beast either dry humping me or eating my face off. Well, this is Lori Varga (aka Lori Surfer) – who has done films for the Butthole Surfers – I‘m kind of asking for it aren’t I? Despite the prospect of menacing large reptiles, Friday at SXSW was a pretty good day.

The morning consisted of the usual check-in insanity to which you can add trying to find a parking lot and being stuck in traffic before you even got to the convention center – tedious to be sure. The one amusing thing at check-in was some dude with a video crew following him; the cameraman and the boom mic dude are getting everything. This meant an amusing diversion for us. “Dude, don’t miss that shot! He’s STANDING IN LINE!!” Dude, get that shot. He’s asking for directions! Holy shit! Get that, he’s filling out a form!” The thing is, that’s exactly what they were doing – filming every second of this young dude checking-in. What the fuck?! Who the fuck is so vain as to think that they need to video themselves filling out a goddamn form? I lay blame squarely on YouTube!

After the registration, it was off for a round of dutiful flyering. Let me save you some trouble if you play SXSW off 6th street (especially west of Capitol): save your self the money and time. It doesn’t make for a hill of beans. People aren’t going to go out of their way if you aren’t a big name act. If you get booked at a showcase at a venue that’s off the beaten path – nobody is showing up. Sorry. Book yourself on a day party for people to see you and enjoy the showcase for enjoyable and glorified rehearsal that it will be.

That was pretty much the case at The Tap at Six last night. The Houston Press had sponsored a Houston showcase off the beaten path. Unknown Houston bands in the middle of nowhere? Hey, remember that song “In the Ghetto?” Yeah, exactly. Nice idea guys but in practice it did nothing for the bands. A better thing to have done would have been to have those bands mixed in with other showcases. Hearts of Animals is playing Bourbon Rocks on Saturday on 6th street with Cheveau, Monotonix, and the Slits. What a waste it would have been to have had her play at the Houston Press stage. You tell me, which showcase would you rather play if you want to expose yourself to a new audience? Right, exactly. Sorry Houston Press. I appreciate the thought and effort so don't take this too harshly but, in practice, it doesn’t work if it's not on 6th street or at least Red River.

That being said the Houston Press showcase did have some sets that did deserve better attendance. The Young Mammals played a sloppy set but it was still solid fun. The Ton Tons also played a strong set. The guitar and vocals are exceptional and as one guy said “This band understands dynamics. When the heavy hits, it’s heavy.” Yeah that’s a good assessment mister.

After the Ton Tons we headed off to the Mohawk. Parts and Labor, Citay, Jens Lekman, and Black Mountain were playing and, given the posse I was with that night, I figured Black Mountain would be right up their alley. Unfortunately, the place was packed beyond use. I got in with my badge but my posse got tired of waiting inline and headed home. That was OK, I caught a bit of Bon Iver who put on a great show but as they were sitting you couldn’t see them above the heads in the crowd. Nice patient folksy melodic with some great harmonies that would have to great crescendo on songs that hit a lovely emotional nerve. Yet, the crowd was a bit much and, as I’d heard the other bands, I figured I’d bail and see what else was up and hopefully see something I’d never heard before.

On the way out I ran into Joe Mathlete who told me Speedy Motorcycle was not extending its run as they’d hoped - bummer. But the good news is Joe’s coming back to Houston soon. Joe and I headed down to Emo’s IV and caught the first song of Indian Jewelry which was insanely good. The stage being raised at shoulder level made for an exceptional show. I was right up to the stage the sound waves from the drums had this chest pounding THUD THUD THUD that grabbed you and pulled you in. Great show and a good crowd too.

From there we headed to Fuck Buttons from Bristol, UK at the Red Eyed Fly. Fuck Buttons are face each other across a table and proceed to play a motley assortment of effects, toys, and electronics. The primarily worked off of layering sounds into a hypnotic pulse of vocals, beats and electronics that made you wonder where the poppers were. Great set! A blast!

The highlight of the evening was Barcelona, Spain’s El Guincho which was one dude with a Roland sampler he’d play with his left hand and a drumstick in his right hand playing percussion. “Give me more bass!” He’d command the soundman, “No more bass! I want to feel it! No! No! Mooooore Bass!” That fucker had it right. Once he got the sound he wanted, the thump of the floor tom would simply drive the audience nuts. The percussion was a fast bouncy beat far removed from the more familiar club beats of Fuck Buttons. These were poppy happy “get your ass up and dance” beats. In short, he was a one person Carnival except we weren’t parading down a street but hopping up and down in a club. Yes, even I, the non-dancer, found myself bouncing up and down! That is quite an accomplishment.





Our SXSW 2024 Blogs:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3 (special poorly written raging hangover edition)
Day 4 (hungover but less so edition)

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