Well, after seeing Iggy Pop at the Austin airport, what can I say? That little spectacle (more on that at the end of this>"/>
Well, after seeing Iggy Pop at the Austin airport, what can I say? That little spectacle (more on that at the end of this post) was a perfect capper to this weekend of noise, watery beer, handshakes, and overall insanity. Unlike a lot of folks (including our awesome web editor Chris Kornelis and intrepid columnist Hannah Levin) I didn't blog all weekend, or report on anything. Considering I haven't taken a real vacation in about a year, I used this weekend as a chance to get seriously ripped, watch bands, say hi to people, and stumble drunk down 6th Street. Kornelis and I were lucky enough to catch an intense set from Loney, Dear, Sub Pop's new signees, on Wednesday night. The Swedish group transformed their normally fragile pop into rollicking folk rock. Frontman Emil Svanagen pushed his high-pitched voice to the absolute limit. I leaned over to Sub Pop publicity darling Joan Hiller and asked what the hell happened to this normally reserved band to make them such a beast. Hiller is, of course, only speculating, but she thinks it may have had to do with the band's first taste of soy sauce. Apparently she treated them to thai food earlier that day and they were astounded by the taste of the dark liquid. I stayed to catch the rest of Sub Pop's showcase which included local Tiny Vipers (even Austin likes to talk while she's playing), Oxford Collapse and Kinski. I have no idea what happened the rest of the night (free Tecate and two hours sleep will do that to you) but I know I made it back to my hotel at 3 a.m.
Next afternoon, Kornelis and I had a few drinks with former SW freelancer and current Cleveland Scene music editor Justin F. Farrar, before heading up to Mohawk to catch Brooklyners Oakley Hall at the Rhapsody party. Free Tecate was abundant once again and plenty of my fellow VVM music eds were on site. Oakley Hall was late to the show, but they wasted no time in setting up their gear and delivering a crunching set, boasting material from their forthcoming release (due this fall from Merge). I've loved the Hall for a while now, but this set was easily the highlight of the entire weekend. They've taken their Crazy Horse mountain rock to the next level, throwing in a jammy aspect reminiscient of early-70s Dead. There is a roaring steam engine thing going on with the Hall and I make no apologies in saying I think they'll save the Americana genre from stagnation. More beer and geeking out ensued. I stayed for Peter, Bjorn and John and was fairly unimpressed, but after having Oakley Hall blow my mind like that, it's hard to follow suit. On my way out of there, I ran into good ol' Dave Meinert (it was only a matter of time, right?) and pigged out on some barbeque with him, the Presidents of the USA, and the Stranger's new music editor Jonathan Zwickel. The rest of the evening was a boozy blur and I know I saw a band in there somewhere, but damned if I could remember anything until I met up with my co-workers Kevin Patnik, Wendy Geldien, and Hannah Levin, along with Easy Street employee Jesse Flores. We had planned to go see Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las with the guys from the Cops, but the line insane. Instead, Hannah and I manage to score some backdoor access to the Gossip's show at Emo's. Naturally, their set was pure electricity, but the whole venue exploded when frontwoman Beth Ditto ripped off her blue dress and strutted her big, beautiful self across the stage! Hannah and I both stood with jaws agape and decided it was one of the finest rock n' roll moments we'd ever witnessed. The rest of the night lasted into the wee hours, but I'll let Hannah tell you about that in this week's Rocket Queen.
Next day was family day, it seemed, with time split between the Ballard Party and the No Depression showcase. The Ballard Party, held at the Big Red Sun nursery, was an ideal location for an outdoor showcase. While it was away from the density of 6th Street, it was an appropriate venue to show off the talent that dwells in that little NW Seattle 'hood. Sunset owner Max Genereaux was there, looking healthy and vibrant, as was Sunset bartender Joe Howe (who was given a well-deserved break from his duties back here, for once). Rachel Flotard of Visqueen charmed the crowd with her rootsy pop and made the whole crowd snicker when she introduced her lap steel player Jon Rauhouse as "Kim Warnick". While Flotard doesn't need to do much to win a crowd over, there was perhaps nothing cuter than seeing her delivering her final songs with a baby on her hip (not her own, but one belonging to a member of Grand Champeen).
More beer followed (are you starting to see a theme unfolding?) before heading up to Spiro's to catch local metal band Lesbian and San Francisco's psychedelic monster Wooden Shjips, who provided my second favorite performance of the weekend. Wooden Shjips dive deep into the confrontational repetition of the Velvet Underground, with plenty of maraca shakes, reverb-twisted vocals, and lysergic solos. Halfway through the set, I was pleased to see Rolling Stone staffer David Fricke standing next to me, looking pleased. According to Light in the Attic co-owner Matt Sullivan, he was spotted at the Saturday Knights' show a few minutes earlier. Here's hoping our local hip-hop supergroup get a little ink somewhere in his SXSW coverage.
Early on Saturday, I took a long walk across the Congress bridge to sweat out some of the beer and catch Portland folkie Alela Diane at Jovita's. She has one of those warbly voices akin to 70s alt-folkies like Karen Dalton, albeit more subdued and less chilling. A breeze was blowing and live oak leaves fluttered down on the outdoor deck where Diane stood, an absolutely splendid way to spend an afternoon. Then it was over to the Longbranch Inn to give some hometown love to the Saturday Knights who I missed the night before on account of Wooden Shjips. The sound at the Longbranch is absolute shit, and the Knights put on quite the shambolic performance. Some might have cringed at it, but it took me back to the days when shows were allowed to be a little reckless and drunken.
I finished off the weekend at the KEXP showcase catching the Black Angels, who I haven't seen in over a year. I had forgotten how narcotic that band can be. Most bands that attempt that sort of drone-y stoner repetition can make a crowd disperse, but the Angels draw them in closer and closer in a tribal manner. They even had one old longhair seriously jamming out near the front.
I woke up the next morning astounded by the amount of great shows I'd seen. I felt pretty damn lucky, considering I'd heard from others that they'd heard plenty of music they hoped to soon forget. But my luck hadn't run out yet...as I mentioned earlier, I saw Iggy at the Austin airport!!! While it was humorous enough to hear that Showbox talent buyer Chad Queirolo also saw him and said "Hey, Iggy, I heard you set fire to my club one time..." only to have Iggy say "Which one?", there is one image I will never be able to shake. While waiting to board his plane, Iggy was practicing Tai Chi!!! I can only imagine that it's a defense mechanism to ward off adoring fans. But seriously...I don't know that I have ever seen a sight so weird in my life. I thought of taking a picture with my cell phone, but no snapshot would ever do it justice. That was between me, Iggy, and the rest of Austin airport.