Photo: Gavin PaulThe only thing finer than a house party in Unofficial SXSW currency – aside from free beer – is free barbecue. Some dudes as close as we’ll probably get to downtown this year at a bright yellow house on the East Side of Austin threw a party called the Psychedelic Pig Roast, in which they roasted the little curly-tailed beast and assembled a cast of psych-rock hearts to play on their porch. We rolled up right as Austin’s Deep Space took over the stage, enlivened with a flange-shredder called Robbie D Love, who led the crew through an 11-minute jam dubbed “Vibrations,” hopping up on the banister to howl its open-window freedom call:

I’m on a night-train, baby
I’m on a night-train to your heart

Pointing at random in the crowd, Robbie D spoke of his love for “communication,” “freedom” and the “mind,” cutting the song off to get to brass tacks: “Alright, now I’m going to play the blues.” Moments like these, without over-shooting it, are just plain good for the soul. Such is why we keep coming to this “weird” town in texas in search of new bands and that coveted new lyricist. Deep Space may not win any writing awards soon. But simple is the best kind of way most of the time.

Of course, so much to do so little time. So we took off in search of a party put on by a feminist magazine called Bust, a rag ‘for women with something to get off their chests’, at a house they were dubbing for SXSW purposes, Pussy Palace. Possibilities abounded. But we found pretty much exactly what we needed on another bluebird day – some scathing punk rock from a band called Vulture Shit. They’re from Brooklyn, and love a good anti-parent squall. We walked into a living room scene with frontman Randy Vandal oi-ing a call-and-response shoutfest into kids’ faces, going on about “Area Dads” and the necessary misfit response:

Area dads say get out of my house
Get out of my house!
Crowd: No!
Get out of my house!
Crowd: No!
Get out of my house!
Crowd: No!
Get out of my house!

Vulture Shit is the worse kind of shit, so the band tells us. We took their word for it and kept the sentiment bottled for another party on the South side of the city at a favorite pizza joint called Home Slice. Much the opposite of the Bust joint, the masses showed up to catch an 18-piece set of local kids calling themselves Mother Falcon, who have made a name for themselves around town for their orchestral/acoustic interpretations of Radiohead’s Ok Computer. Not the greatest singers in the world, but watching a string section light up the opening drone of “Airbag” about being born again was a beautiful thing:

In the next world war
In a jack-knifed juggernaut
I am born again

Around the time they brought a human element to the HAL-robot voice on “Fitter Happier” creeping us the fuck out with the “pig in a cage on antibiotics” line, we had enough and bounced to a pair of house parties to lighten the air. Some sleuthing brought us to an endearing little laundry room set-up with a ukulele-led set of Philadelphia quirky folksters called Norwegian Arms, telling a wispy tale of a day on one’s own time titled “Run! Ran! Run! Rah!” that had us ready to take off our shoes and socks and heel-kick around the kitchen:

Half a day to run to, to run through, it’s sunny and a
Half a day to find dogs, to saddle up, to get it done, iditarod
I said a half a day to fine tune, to fight through to fine tune it’s sunny
And a heidel day da dum dye day!

Shortly thereafter, we caught a local singer-songwriter, Julia Lucille, getting her Sharon Van Etten crooners on wrought with imagery of ex-loves and the kind of twenty-something angst anyone in search of love can’t escape. Another plainspoken lyricist find, but the kind of long-drawn brooders that deserve a moonlit shot of whiskey and a conversation, Lucille a champion finger-picker of panning emotive sweeps asking “Tell Me How it Feels:”

And won’t you go to the usual place
Where everybody knows our names
And talk after the show
To friends you didn’t know before
And tell me how you feel?
And tell me how it feels?

Problem was we didn’t have any whiskey. Nor the time to brood. So went the final hour of Day Three, towards one last house party near the University of Texas that had this curious little Being John Malkovich-ian basement room filled with a torquoise-fender indie-pop crew from Brooklyn called Conveyor. Why their frontman was in his underwear made the Malkovich eight-foot-ceiling scene that much grander, as the quartet laced their Vampire Weekend-esque clatterings around an homage to a mother, after a sojourn to an island of some kind. Except these dudes make Vampire Weekend look like session chumps, swirling three-part harmonies all erratic and Talking Heads sharp. We still can’t shake a sweet image of the band pushing their hands against the ceiling, getting rowdy with ‘mom’ shout-outs. She’d be proud. Catch y’all on Day Four, our final scavenging of all things unofficially rad and SXSW:

Got in a car and went to a mountain peak peak
Put on a pack a jacket to walk a mile
I opened every throat and made love in nature
….
Hey mom, what do you want to talk about today?

Photo: Gavin Paul

Psychedelic Pig Roast

Photo: Gavin Paul

Deep Space @ the Psychedelic Pig Roast

Photo: Gavin Paul

Bust Magazine Pussy Palace

Photo: Gavin Paul

Vulture Shit @ BUST Magazine Pussy Palace

Photo: Gavin Paul

Home Slice and Third Man Records scene

Photo: Gavin Paul

Mother Falcon @ Home Slice

Photo: Gavin Paul

Abra Cadabra House Party

Photo: Gavin Paul

Norwegian Arms @ Abra Cadabra House Party

Photo: Gavin Paul

Julia Lucille @ Abra Cadabra House Party

Photo: Gavin Paul

Conveyor @ ‘Being John Malcovich’ half-floor basement party