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The Ross Who Knew Too Much






Sunday, March 20, 2005

SXSW Saturday in full

-- Before I get into my Saturday wrap-up, I've got an interesting story I heard Friday from Vamp Music Source's Kate Galloway. Now I don't want to step on Kate's toes here, as she's also keeping a SXSW blog on David de Young's excellent site. And, for that matter, 89.3 The Current's Thorn and Zack from Hockey Night are contributing SXSW thoughts here. The thing is, as of Sunday afternoon, none of them have gotten around to posting more than one SXSW update. So where do you turn for all the best semi-interesting/partially annoying SXSW dish? Right here. Uh-huh.

-- Anyway, Kate told me that Ouija Radio was also in Austin. Not to perform, but just to hang out. And one of the band's female members ended up dancing with an elfin-looking stranger who she didn't realize was Elijah Wood. Turns out the "Lord of the Rings" star was in Austin for SXSW's film festival to promote "Hooligans," a film he stars in and helped finance. Wood -- who is from Iowa, by the way -- also checked out SXSW's music, as he is starting his own independent record label. Will Ouija Radio be the first signing to Frodo Recordings?

-- Anyway, South by Southwest suffered a brief interruption from its otherwise gorgeous weather Saturday afternoon when a freak -- and mercifully brief -- storm rolled in with hair-mussing high winds and a hard, hard rain. It was like a tsunami! Well, almost. (I wonder if M.I.A. was still in town and wrote a rap about it?) As many of the SXSW day (and night, for that matter) shows take place in outside venues, the downpour left plenty of fans and musicians dripping.

-- I was stuck in a hotel lobby during the storm, where I had just picked up a pass for the late-night Vice party (more on that later). Melissa Maerz (formerly of City Pages) and Bridgette Reinsmoen (currently of City Pages), meanwhile, happened to be in another hotel a few blocks away, lounging in the rooftop hot tub alongside none other than Erlend Oye of the excellent Norwegian soft-rock duo Kings of Convenience. Once the rain really started to fall, Oye -- who was wearing flimsy white underpants rather than a proper bathing suit, but maybe that's business as usual back in Norway or something -- got up and started dancing. The ladies, meanwhile, averted their eyes from Oye's, uh, Oye.

-- After the sun came back out to shine, Dan Israel played a solo acoustic show at an outdoor party sponsored by Austin's Pop Culture Press magazine. "Homegrown" co-host Mei Young was one of several Minnesotans on hand to cheer on Dan, who managed to stop more than a few conversations among non-Minnesotans with his powerful songs and strikingly Dylan-esque voice. That, and his Friday night full-band SXSW gig earned at least one fan, this reporter from the San Antonio newspaper. Dan, if you end up playing live in San Antonio, please remember that There's no basement in the Alamo!

-- Is Austin the place where MTV hosts go to die? Following my blockbuster news that Matt Pinfield likes to eat sausages comes even more hot goss! While walking back downtown from Dan Israel's show and checking out all the wet hipsters along the way, I spotted Dave Holmes talking on his mobile phone. Perhaps he was calling his agent to see if he got that gig with the TV Guide Channel. Also, Cabooze/Lee's Liquor Lounge booker James "Taco" Martin told me he saw Carson Daly a few days back. (Brief aside -- do you suppose Taco ate any tacos in Austin? Because they sure are everywhere here. Anyway, I don't know. Perhaps I should have asked him.) Unfortunately, at press time, I could not confirm the rumor that Jesse Camp was living in a dumpster with "Downtown" Julie Brown behind Emo's. Still, let this be a warning to you, La La!

-- After meeting up for dinner with a bunch of Spin staffers at this Austin landmark, Chuck and I headed off to see the Faceless Werewolves, an Austin-based three piece who play semi-interesting garage rock but, sadly, are not actually werewolves. Perhaps one is secretly a Frankenstein?

-- From there, we were headed over to see the Japanese band Suns Owl (whose name means "Melodious Owl" in English). But on the way, we heard some potentially great, '70s-style stoner rock coming from a club. So we walked inside to see the Sword, a rather fantastic Austin-based band that appears to believe music stopped with the release of "Black Sabbath, Vol. 4." And what do you know, they'll be hitting the road with Trail of Dead and have an April 25 stop planned for First Avenue. (This random discovery was especially great, 'cause I had almost convinced Chuck to accompany me to see my much-beloved 3 Inches of Blood -- a Canadian band that's more Iron Maiden than Sabbath, but still in the general ballpark, at least noise-wise -- earlier in the evening, but we opted out when we realized it was a long enough cab ride away from where we were at the time that we would have ended up missing all but the last song or two.)

-- Properly rocked out, I then met up with two pals from Chicago to see the MTV2 U.K. showcase. It was headlined by two bands I'm not super crazy about -- Idlewild and the Music -- but I was there to see the Magic Numbers. And, wow, they made my entire weekend. They're a four-piece from England with lots of hippie hair and some of the most gorgeous, love-rocking tunes this side of the Polyphonic Spree, but without that whole weird cult vibe going on. Think Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris with Curt Boettcher producing and you're halfway there. These guys are going to be everywhere in a few months.

-- From there, I hit the Vice magazine party, the big buzz of the night. It was yet another invite-only deal -- all the more buzzy as last year's Vice fete was apparently a blast. It was held in a weird space, located a fair distance from downtown in a half-industrial/half-residential sort of area. And plenty of people managed to score the requisite laminates, as the place was packed with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people. Bloc Party, the Go! Team and Diamond Nights were among the bands playing inside the packed, sweaty warehouse. Outside, even more people jammed into an awkward outdoor courtyard where a paltry three portable toilets served the boozed-up masses. I escorted two ladies to the loo and watched this crazy woman attempt to push her way in front of one of them, yelling about who, exactly, was in line first. Kind of a mess. Still, it was a lot of fun, despite the freebees being limited to cans of PBR and Sparks, an entirely noxious and unbelievably trendy malt-liquor-enhanced-with-faux-Red-Bull drink. Life at SXSW, it seems, is tough indeed.

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So glad to see you in Austin Ross. Keep up the good work with this blog and now you'll be able to say "Remember when..." when The Magic Numbers take over the world. ;-)

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