Hello my little South-By-sexuals (get it?!?!)! My coverage from my last day in Austin is going to be a little bit different because I didn't really spend any time watching bands in the daylight - perhaps this choice was inspired by my School of Seven Bells experience on Friday. All the SXSW partying had started to catch up with the four fine ladies in my hotel room, and when we woke up on Saturday morning we all kind of felt like daylight might actually kill us. When we finally drew the blinds and prepared to greet the morning, we saw this ridiculous line streaming down 5th street:
What the hell was that? That was the line for the freakin' Rachael Ray party with Semi Precious Weapons, the Airborne Toxic Event, Ra Ra Riot, The Hold Steady, The Thermals, the New York Dolls and ... a whole bunch of other stuff. I also hear she was makin' everybody lunch. That must have been an amazing lunch cos I can't imagine waiting on a line that long for anything.
Instead, Sara and I decided to go exploring in Austin. We hiked up Guadalupe to a great vegetarian restaurant called Veggie Heaven. I ate something called the Magic Tomato, which was amazing - and we didn't have to wait on any lines. Suck on that, Rachael Ray.
We also went to thrift stores, which was exciting - you'll never guess who we met! The one, the only..
And because I'm a nerd, I had to walk past the Texas Chili Parlor, the site of Quentin Tarantino's awesome chick revenge flick Death Proof.
OK guys, I'll come clean - I tried to go to shows in the daytime.
I went to Headhunters and watched a bunch of punk bands I've never heard of and few of them were remarkable. Then I tried to go to The Mess with Texas Festival in Waterloo Park. I really did! There were two problems:
1. I got a little wasted and spent most of the Circle Jerks' set kissing an awfully young stranger (YEAHHHH SPRING BREAK!!!!!).
2. The second stage was running terribly late and since my evening schedule was so tight, I was forced to leave before Kid Sister. I am sincerely upset about that one. Kid Sister is one of the most exciting rappers out there today, and she keeps postponing her New York gigs - clearly, punctuality is not her strong suit. Someday, Kid Sister. SOMEDAY!!!
Anyhow ... I couldn't stick around because my #1 priority of the day was the PJ Harvey showcase at Stubb's.
Stubb's is outdoors and quite spacious, and I was able to finagle myself up to third row center - perfect for having my face melted off by one of the most amazing women in rock. Polly Jean did not disappoint - especially because she took the stage wearing what appeared to be a straitjacket.
I've loved Polly Jean since i was first conscious of rock music, and I have lectured Riese many times about my strong feelings re: Leisha Hailey naming her band after PJ's album Uh Huh Her. That said, I was kinda bored with her last album White Chalk - I just didn't find myself wanting to give it more than a few spins. Her new record A Woman A Man Walked By is a collaboration with John Parish, who worked on White Chalk and also co-produced To Bring You My Love. They performed almost the entire album, and thankfully it seems to be a return to form - haunting vocals, big guitars and rock swagger, mixed with some softer, more folk-y songs - in short, everything PJ does best. I fell into a total adoring daze during the set, but I think my favorite new tune was "Leaving California."
You may notice the banjo/steel guitar combination - good news all around. There was also a ukelele - please note! According to SXSW, ukeleles are the hottest new trend in rock music right now.
Oh hey, I took a picture of the set list cos I knew later I'd have trouble remembering anything useful.
Once PJ was done, I met up with Sara and we booked it up to godknows where for the ultimate in ridonkulousness - the Perez Hilton SXSW party.
I cannot explain to you how we got in, I cannot explain to you why we went, but I can tell you that we walked in during Solange's very last song and she was probably one of the best things I saw all week.
That girl can sing, and I wish more modern singers tried to pull off that 60s girl group sound I love so much. The matching outfits were a nice touch.
"Is that person in Destiny's Child?" asked Sara. Oh, Sara.
OH! Apparently this fucking guy was there, wearing this fucking hat:
Aren't YOU clever? He made a big deal of announcing to everyone in the room that Lady Sovereign had cancelled because she was a cunt. I tend to believe there's more to the story. [Editor's Note: according to PerezHilton.com, Sovereign canceled because she is a "twat," though there is no elaboration on this change of heart/derogatory vagina-related nouns.] [Editor's Note #2: We at Autostraddle enjoy words like "cunt" and "twat" from time to time, especially when spoken by Alice Pieszecki, however we firmly believe that Perez Hilton is on the list of people not allowed to use those words. Or any words, really.] All the same, I'd been looking forwards to seeing her perform her new stuff, and was irritated that her cancellation couldn't have been handled more gracefully. Dude has some abandonment issues.
One thing that guy did right though: the bar had alcoholic sno-cones!
There was an open bar, and there were a lot of really drunk people dancing really badly - but it was a great atmosphere, and we had a lot of friends there. Even with Lady Sov's cancellation, the whole thing was running super late, and because of that we were lucky enough to see Little Boots again!
This time she was wearing an even more photogenic outfit.
I made sure to get a picture of the shoes this time:
As if I wasn't already having a hard enough time getting "Stuck on Repeat" out of my head. Little Boots was just as much fun the second time around, and she seemed to be having a great time on stage.
At the end of the set, Perez/Frankenberry brought out Kid Cudi and explained to him that Boots had recently done a cover of his song "Day N Nite." The two of them played a sort of impromptu version of it, and both looked like they had a lot of fun. Adorable.
It was just a thousand different genres skipping all over the place, like listening to your iPod on random but in a huge dark room with flashing lights and free vodka.
Uh, after that was Rye Rye. Nobody knew who that was, so I Wikipedia'd it right then and there (you're never alone with a Blackberry). Apparently she's a rapper from Baltimore who was the first signing to M.I.A.'s new label N.E.E.T., and well.. that's pretty much all you need to know to know what she sounds like.
It's not that we weren't into it, it was just a lot at once - the lineup for this party was the most schizophrenic thing I could imagine, and that's really saying something when you consider that it's SXSW. Seriously, I'm told the special guest early in the evening was the freaking Indigo Girls!
It was just a thousand different genres skipping all over the place, like listening to your iPod on random but in a huge dark room with flashing lights and free vodka. I'd like to give Rye Rye a fair listen later, when I'm not distracted by strawberry and rose cognac sno cones.
This is when things got out of CONTROL.
Frankenberry came out again - in his pink Aretha hat, AGAIN - and announced that Sov was a huge twat. Again. He said we didn't need her at this party, because an even more special guest had arrived - Kanye freakin' West.
OK white people, let's get real. I know a lot of the kids who read Perez Hilton's blog regularly were probably really excited by this super random huge star playing this party, but it was the last night of SXSW, lots of shows were going on, this party was really freakin' far from everything else, it was already running two hours late WITHOUT one of the headliners, and Kanye West is just a ridiculous thing to throw out there. The party was kind of split between the grinning kids who were furiously dancing and the yawning people in the back who were just over it. I guess it's cool that I saw Kanye West for free, but at this point the only act on the lineup I still really wanted to see was Yelle, and she was dead last - every second of Kanye's set meant a longer delay between that moment and my precious French pop music.
Um, Ida Maria played. This is what the singer looks like:
The whole Kanye thing left a bad taste in my mouth, and I was anxious for Yelle - I was four days into SXSW, achy and cranky and unimpressed with the world. I couldn't focus on this band, although they weren't bad. There was a little artists' lounge thing off the side of the stage, and I went in there to sit on a couch and decompress for a minute.
Who was hangin' out on the couch directly across from me? IDK, my BFF Little Boots?
Look how sober we clearly are! Man, if you want to see me play it cool around someone I like a lot, you should have seen me in action. Actually, Boots and her friends were really friendly (and had adorable accents), and I hung out with those guys for the duration of Ida Maria's set.
I'm not sure if the venue had some sort of sound curfew - I'm sure they must have - but Yelle only played four songs. Four awesome, high-energy songs in a language I don't speak, all while wearing this amazing outfit:
That woman's music makes me bounce off the walls - but then before I even really got going, it was over.
And SXSW was over. I bid farewell to Little Boots & Co. and headed out into the night.
The walk back to the hotel was insane - buses, vans and trailers everywhere, drunks hailing cabs to the airport, the streets littered with paper plates and guitar picks and little shreds of dignity.
I made a list of bands I'd wanted to see but didn't get to - Kid Sister, Tori Amos, Pendulum, the Howlies, Jane's Addiction, Normandie, Bell, Crocodile, the Carrots, Melissa Auf der Maur, Gravy Train!!!, Juliette Lewis and the New Romantiques, PRE, Primal Scream, Vivian Girls and a few others. It sounds like a terribly long list, but ultimately I think I was able to see the shows that I was most concerned about, and I think I'll manage to check out all those acts on my own time. No regrets.
Our flight home went off without a hitch, except for the part where the flight attendant called me "sir." That's never happened to me before in my entire life, but I suppose anything's possible in the friendly skies; I'm considering including this in my letter to US Airways. Anyway, I got home safe - exhausted and slightly zombiefied, but safe.
Until next time, Austin, Texas...
Stay tuned for Stef's interview with Hesta Prynn, dropping later this week ...