Another day off the grid in SXSW lands in search of sweet turn-of-phrases – Day Two brought us to the best damn honky-tonk bar in Texas, the Broken Spoke, where Canadian troubadour Ron Sexsmith was holding Twangfest court, crooning some rather somber sentiments, but a welcome calming pill in this shitstorm week of thousands of performing bands. “And in the back of our minds/It deepens with time,” he assured, following that reflection with a song about his loves music and wine, and the finer side to loneliness:
I’m making the most of my loneliness
In the place where I am lonely best
Willow don’t weep for me now
I’m having a real good time
Me, myself and wine
Meanwhile, Broken Spoke regular Dale Watson was lighting up the dance-floor in the backroom, getting his country Billy Bob Thornton thing on, cracking PC wise with a room full of waltzers and day drinkers hiding from the sunshine. Whereas Sexsmith coddled the comfort of solitary moments, Watson, like a true Texan, put a self-deprecating spin on it, telling a distant love to “Run Away,” as couples wryly two-stepped about:
Runaway from me girl, don’t take a second look
I’ve never been in love
Don’t think I ever will
It’s just something I can’t do
Though I keep trying still
From here we shot a bit closer to downtown, in search of a party behind a record store called Slackerfest, where we found punk-country hearts The Beaumonts laying the slacker-vibe on molasses thick. Too many one-liners to list here, as they took hilarious shots at “Toby Keith,” the Lord and a Hustler subscription’s worth of sex jokes. It got a bit gimmicky at times, but with a beer in hand and a self-remembrance of the freedom we Amurricans have, “Money for Drugs” hit an afternoon mood quite right:
My dick is so short that I piss on my balls
And my belly looks like it belongs on Santa clause
I might be hideous baby, don’t be so smug
Because I got money for drugs!
By the time another sun set over Austin, we found ourselves at an Unofficial SXSW treat one can’t ever get enough of – the house party. This particular one was at in the garage/frontyard of a dude named Todd, who lives by the highway next to a Shell, and dubbed his gala Free Booze! Fun times here, from the Paris/Austin hybridisms of Chateau Nowhere, teasing tales of “Skinny Dipping” and “black stars” and “white nights” that morphed from quintessential indie-pop into New Pornagraphers screeds with a banshee front-woman – why so angry, darling? – to the Explorgasm Okie quintet sounds of DeerPeople, that erupted with a feather bomb, a kid that wouldn’t stop pogo-ing no matter what the mood of the song and a line about “being back in this world,” frontman Brennan Barnes falling to his knees to make a point.
The band that owned Todd’s “mansion” garage party, though, was a local shoegaze crew called Bloody Knives, who take dream-pop to nightmarish heights. You’d never know it, though, as singer Preston Maddox pulls off hypnotizing haze at the mic, shrouded in swaths of reverb and helicopter-ish My Bloody Valentine-isms when they get angry. But we caught up with him post-show to get an explanation of what lyrics he’s going on about that get him to whip his hair so metal so, in which he explained he writes about “ghosts and blood and anything that has to do with horror or sci-fi.” Here’s a taste of the first verse of a new jam they’re working on called “K4,” that saw the singer slam his bass on the driveway:
I saw your ghost in your blood
I know it’s you
All house-partied out, we scooted off to a theatre way east called the Salvage Vanguard, where we took a gamble on a party called Square by Square Wave, that’s pretty much a substitution for a nerdcore event every year that happens over at the Alamo Drafthouse’s swank bowling alley called DataPop. 8-bit I Fight Dragons chiptune oddities that gets pretty damn boring after a while unless you measure your happiness with dubstep womp and Nintendo game collections. If that sounds like you, you would have dug Knife City, who had a gameboy dance party we’re calling dub-chip, inciting a crew of 50 kids to scream the beast of a genre’s only lyric of the night:
I’ve got the drugs mother fuckers!
Not too far off from The Beaumonts’ wishes, in retrospect. Which wasn’t too far off the mood at the last party of the evening we hit at a record shop – Trailer Space Records – near the University that didn’t have much of a clever name, but showcased plenty of quirky indie-scrapters from Burger Records, and a misfit set of kids smoking mass amounts of doobage in between crate-digging sessions and a set from Milwaukee’s Jaill, who actually just made the jump to Sub Pop, but were coddled something untouched here just the same, teasing Talking Heads’ “Wild Wild Life” covers amongst tunes about “boobies,” “pointy fingers” and “Madness,” that end-capped another successful day on the fringe. Catch y’all with Day Three!