SXSW Sunday: The Last and Best

I closed out my SXSW experience at Beerland, the first place I tried to-- unsuccessfully-- hit up for that Circle Jerks show at midnight on Thursday. It was, hands down, the best bar and the best show I attended the whole time, though the sets were short because they crammed a shit-ton of bands onto the bill. As in, you could go out for a 20-minute food-and-smoke break (as I did) and miss a band's set (sorry, Crocodiles!). Like an Austin incarnation of the Funhouse, the bar earned a place in my heart when I found out that they were serving free vegetarian chili scooped into a little bag of Fritos. This delicacy is known as "Frito pie," and it is quintessential Texas. And their margaritas were good, too.

Beerland, as it so happens, is not an official SXSW venue, which is why this friendly little sign of guidelines is posted at the entrance:


We showed up just in time to catch Champagne Champagne, who put on a great show as always, though unfortunately, the hungover hipster crowd was pretty lethargic. I can't fault 'em too much for it, though-- five days of free booze, constant shows and no sleep will do that to a person. Past Lives came on next-- makes sense, since Champagne Champagne's DJ, Mark Gajadhar, also plays drums in Past Lives. At the end of the set, I could've sworn I heard Jordan Blilie say, "We're the Bloo--Past Lives. Thanks!" I guess when you've said it hundreds of times, it's a hard habit to break. All the great things I'd heard about the band's live performance stood up to muster-- those guys pour themselves into their music, and it shows. They're also loud enough to rattle your fillings.

I also caught a Brazilian band, Garotas Suecas, that was pretty kickass. Basically, some handsome, big-eyed men played guitar, bass and drums while a wan, sleepy-eyed blonde girl held down keys and maracas. Most of the words to their songs were in Portuguese, but the band had a devoted little following dancing and singing along up in front. It was catchy, and the crowd for their set was as about as big as the crowds got the entire time I was in there.

Next up was Mika Miko, a mostly-female punk band with one singer who shrieks into a mic that looks like a red telephone; the other shrieks into a regular microphone and makes quips about how growing her gorgeous curly hair out has earned her comparisons to either Darlene from Roseanne or Kenny G. And ok, so most of you probably don't know what I look like, but I had big, dark curly hair too, and before I cut most of it off people used to tell me I looked like Darlene also. People, it's not a compliment. We are both way better-looking than that girl (whose name, incidentally, is also Sara.) But that's not the point. The point is, they were hilarious, energetic performers who don't feel the need to dress like fucking pin-up models to draw attention to their awesome band. They look grungy and a little rough around the edges, like rocker chicks should. I'm getting sick of this whole if-I-wear-sexy-clothes-my-band-will-get-attention crap, especially in punk rock. That, along with these womens' awesome music, has earned them my undying support.

Up next: stuff I wish I'd seen, mistakes I made, and advice for people considering making the pilgrimage next year.

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