The Gnome's stirred up trouble before, but this is getting weird. First it was suggested in this column that fellow Bay Area mope rockers Mark Eitzel and Mark Kozelek should attend each other's Seattle appearances when both were in town in late February. Kozelek showed up at Eitzel's Experience Music Project lecture, and Eitzel came to the Crocodile later that night to see his colleague. This did not go smoothly. First, Eitzel inadvertently insulted Kozelek, telling the EMP audience to go see his ex-American Music Club bandmate Danny Pearson at the Croc, but that he "couldn't vouch for the headliner," meaning Kozelek. Kozelek protested from the audience, and Eitzel apologized. Early in his own set at the Croc, Kozelek launched a rebuttal, complaining about Eitzel's comments until a voice rang out from the crowd, yelling, "You suck." It was Eitzel, who was quickly spotted. A San Francisco newspaper picked up on this Battle in Seattle, leading Eitzel to write a "Dear Gnome" letter explaining his actions. Eitzel claims that Kozelek's dissed him in the press over the years and that he yelled "You suck" at the Croc because his rival had pushed him over the edge. Eitzel goes on to say he'd like to end the feud, but not before issuing a few more jabs. "I think he is a great songwriter," Eitzel writes. "But I don't like all of his shows and don't encourage people to see them. Sometimes they are great and sometimes they are cringefests." The Gnome eagerly awaits Kozelek's response.
The dysfunctional duo's disagreement sailed all the way down to Texas, where the Austin American-Statesman picked up the Gnome's reportage in previews for South by Southwest showcases by Eitzel's new band—who will release an album on Matador later this year—and Kozelek's Red House Painters, whose Old Ramon comes out on Sub Pop next month. Fortunately for everyone involved, the bands' sets took place on opposite sides of town at around the same time.
Seattle bands also made news down in Austin, with Death Cab for Cutie, the Murder City Devils, the Supersuckers, and the Briefs stirring up a buzz while leading a contingent of 30 or so acts to the state formerly known as W's. Death Cab and the MCDs took turns electrifying parties at Emo's, the venerable punk club, with the former's Chris Walla concluding an impassioned set with a trick out of Krist Novoselic's playbook; he balanced his guitar in his palm and stumbled around the stage. Given Death Cab's injury-prone background, many Seattle onlookers gasped—but nobody got hurt. For a photo gallery of SXSW, including shots from the Seattle Weekly/Sub Pop party featuring the Briefs, proceed directly to seattleweekly.com. You betcha!