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The Ross Who Knew Too Much

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Random observations from SXSW Day One

-- While waiting in line for a badge, I spotted the guy from the Kaiser Chiefs who wears that stupid hat. He was walking into the restroom. Even budding superstars need a potty break once in a while. Who knew! Actually, I thought it might just be another random hipster in a stupid hat until I saw him again a few hours later on the street, standing near a taco stand looking all cool while chatting with a few moony-eyed well-wishers. Thanks to its hummable tunes and Britpoppy swagger, the band's debut album "Employment" is a huge hit abroad and it's looking like they're already earning some fans here in the States, too. Still, I'm not so sure about that hat.

-- I think I've found the scariest, hairiest band -- not only at SXSW, but possibly the entire universe. Look here at your own risk.

-- Wednesday night's Sub Pop showcase was a whole lotta boozy fun. Portland trio Sleater-Kinney headlined and, wow, they are at the top of their collective game these days. Their new CD "The Woods" is due at the end of May. It's their first for Sub Pop, after spending years on Kill Rock Stars (and before that, Chainsaw Records). It largely lacks the pop leanings of "All Hands on the Bad One" and "One Beat," instead focusing on rocking out. They even play guitar solos these days. What a world.

-- The Twin Cities' own Mark Mallman turned in my favorite show of opening night. Playing in a smaller club fairly off the main SXSW drag, he tore through his set as if he were playing for 25,000 people at Budokan. Charming, hilarious and fun. After watching Mallman shove his mic stand down his pants, roll around atop his electric piano and channel the spirit of Gene Simmons' tongue (circa 1977), a friend turned to me and asked: "Do you think Mark Mallman is going crazy?" Possibly.

-- Apparently the cast of "The Real World: Austin" has been given the task of creating a documentary on SXSW. Now that I know that, I'll keep an eye out for impossibly good-looking boneheads wearing tight clothes and carrying cameras. Although that describes a whole lot more SXSW attendees than one might think.

-- The most inconsequential gossip of the evening? Former City Pages editor/writer Melissa Maerz -- who now works for Spin in NYC -- is roommates with a guy who is dating Courtney Love. Except she's not actually Courtney Love. But her name might actually be Courtney (I need to check my facts on this one.) And she dressed like Courtney Love for Christmas. Or was it Halloween? I forget.


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