SXSW: Day 5
Friday was my #allin, let’s see who we can see music day. After putting in a few hours at the office, I made my way to the Mess with Texas Fest where I met up with Arturo and several Austin-based friends. Upon walking in, I realized Lower Dens – my standout SXSW favorite – was on stage and about to perform. Excited and determined to get front row, I held my camera tagged with an official SXSW photo pass at arms length while excusing myself through the crowd. After the captivating set which included my beloved tune “Brains,” I went inside and ran into a friend who me hooked up with a VIP wristband – which “Lemme Smang It” backstage for Turquoise Jeep, a hip-hop/r&b collective of rappers Yung Humma, Flynt Flossy, Whatchyamacallit and Slick Mahony, who’ve gained significant attention since their release of several YouTube music videos last year, which went viral and collected millions of views. Following the performance, New Build (members of Hot Chip and the now disbanded LCD Soundsystem) took stage. At that point, however, my A.D.D. kicked in and I went outside to find my friend Adi in the patio area where Cloud Nothings, an indie rock band from Ohio provided a live soundtrack to our conversation about babies, beef jerky and Neuro Water.
Succeeding the last song, I stopped by The Grackle for the Austin Facial Hair Club showcase to say hello to my bearded friends and take in some of ATX based band Ume’s (pronounced “oo – may”) set. Although the music and company were reason enough to bear the long lines at the bar, the wall to wall capacity inside was enough to make me venture elsewhere – which ultimately was to Peckerheads to see Rockwell Knuckles, a hip-hop artist whom I had heard about several times through a multitude of friends.
Without omission, I continued my live music journey and reunited with Arturo at Mohawk for Baltimore maestro of improv and crowd engagement, Dan Deacon. Reputable for his live shows and choice to play within the bounds of listeners, Deacon served as a ring leader of fun, fueling wild dancing and audience participation with his keyboard orchestrated electronic freak pop. In addition to arranging a london bridge game of snake – up and down the deck of the venue, he accompanied a visual version “Simon Says” with the track “Snookered,” from his latest album released Bromst. The mayor of “Wham City” ended with “Crystal Cat,” my favorite song of his – a fast paced song featuring rhyming but nonsensical words over layered synthesizer vibrato – i’m gonna get my bathing suit on/gonna get my base face on/gonna get my hat out of loan/gonna get my space face on/i’m gonna turn all snakes into bone/go wishing the stone/keep the crystal cat cold.
At sundown, I restored myself at “The House,” a brick and mortar recharge camp on San Marcos St. owned by a collate of friends. The rest-stop offered Tito’s, beer and massages from a professional masseuse on site. After the two-hour long hiatus, I rode back west of the I-35 to catch Chelsea Wolfe, queen of “doom-folk,” my primary source of SXSW enthusiasm. Her style incorporates elements of goth in an eerie dark cocktail of booming drums and drenched reverb. Playing mostly songs from her sophomore album, Apokalypsis – Wolfe enchanted attendees with her haunting vocals encompassed by atmospheric synthesizer and gritty drone.
The evening concluded with a nightcap of Skrillex at 1100 Warehouse on East 5th. In arriving late, I found the sweat shed was at capacity and no one was being allowed in – but knowing the door man got me in quick and efficiently. The crowded room was pitch dark with the exception of a strobe behind the artist, in addition to the glowing light sticks clutched in the fists of attendees. Using my VIP wristband, I grabbed a spot backstage and watched the “Prince of Dubstep” do his thing.